17 August 2010

The babies, the maid, and the car

For a typical working couple living on their own, what are the difficult choices that have to be made to raise a family?  Someone estimated that it would cost $1 million in a couple's lifetime.  That sounds like quite a disincentive. 

When our first baby came our way, the immediate question was how to look after the baby given that both of us were working?  We decided then that we could tolerate having an outsider living in our home, and so a maid it was.  Aside from the obvious costs of hiring a maid (and the associated levies), it would seem that expenses build up very quickly.  For example, water and electrical consumption jump quite significantly.  Food/meals was another.  It all adds up.  I would estimate that it actually cost about $1000 a month as a result.

Then there were the risks of a stranger in the home.  How much trust can we emplace on this person whom we know nothing about except the few pages of resume?  It's all blind faith and hope for the best! 

By the time our second kid came along, the problem had significantly compounded.  How would we move around in a family of five without a car?  Our maid had already long gone, having decided to return to her homeland.  But raising two kids without the maid was not viable.  Plan A, wife stops work and become a housewife.  We decided that was no go, and Plan B was needed.

Taxi would no longer be a viable option (back then, there were no 5-seaters).  This quickly drove us to the conclusion that a car had become a necessity. 

Fortunately, with the older one already two years old, he was old enough to attend the full-day day-care centre.  The younger one, was left with the in-laws who were most helpful in helping to look after her on weekdays, and we brought her home only on weekends.  It was a compromise.  A compromise that was viable only because of facility and family support.

One side note though, the cost of having an extra person in the house (i.e. maid) was traded off against the ownership of a car, and childcare charges.  The later being discounted due to a government incentive for working mothers.

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