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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Marriage & Parenthood Package 2013

Ironically, the marital indiscretions of a certain Michael Palmer led to the unexpected early announcement of the Marriage & Parenthood Package 2013.  Usually, such goodies would be announced through the Budget (this year's edition slated to be 25 February 2013) but I guess the government wanted Singaporeans to cheer about something else in the midst of the Punggol East by-election fever, tsk tsk.

Details of the enhancements as well as existing measures can be found at the official website Heybaby.

It is a fair observation to say that the most common reason given for our shockingly low birth rate is having Money No Enough.  Not enough to feed ourselves, not enough to feed another mouth, not enough to go on annual holiday, not enough to buy that latest gadget, not enough to buy the latest 'IT' bags, not enough to buy a house, not enough to buy a car, not enough to employ a maid!  Simply not enough!

I think it is just a lousy Singaporean excuse to grumble about money.  Afterall, the older generations have been raised on smaller budgets and in smaller spaces.  I guess we can validate this by seeing how little effect the ever increasing baby bonuses had on birth rates in Singapore through the years.

Personally, I feel that the solution is simple, although implementing it would be anything but.

1.  Build HDB flats in advance instead of Built To Order (BTO)

Due to the long and tedious balloting and building process that is peculiar to Singapore, a couple would have to wait at least 3 years before having a place of their own.  Add to this the time it takes to save up for the downpayment, the time a couple may want to spend as a two-some and the time it takes to successfully conceive, it may be too late for a couple to want more than one kid, if at all.

Luckily for us, owing to the bad economic times, there were lots of unsold flats back in December 2006.  Through a Walk-In-Selection process (which has gone the way of the Dodo), we got from homeless to penniless (after paying the downpayment to our first marital home) in just a couple of months.  As a result, we had plenty of time to enjoy life together as newly weds and to plan our careers and parenthood.

Fast forward to January 2013, we have since had Aiden and moved out of our first home in Sengkang to a condominium in Bedok to be near Cheryl's parents.  Logistically, we have everything in place.  This certainly gives us more breathing space to balance our careers and family life and think about having children.

On the other hand, we have many married friends of the same age who are still worrying about how to secure their first home, and for some, still waiting for theirs to be completed.  While bunking in with their in-laws, many have suffered from strained relationships as a result.

If the government/HDB can build in advance and release flats according to demand, prices would not fluctuate so much and people will have ready-made homes.  This will certainly pave the way for couples to have more children!

2.  Work-life balance

Singaporeans are a workaholic bunch.  Add to that the kiasu nature of our society, how to have time for so many kids!?  It would be a crime to bring them to this world, only to leave them in the care of our maids or worse, neglected and left to their own devices.

In a conversation I had with a friend who happens to be a gynae, I asked for some insider tips on how to improve the odds to conceive.  He smiled and gave me three words of wisdom - "Have More Sex!"

I think it is goes without saying that sex is the last thing that is on your mind when you return home after a intense/stressful/crappy day at work.

Work-life balance is still a big challenge for me, and that is why I sometimes have second thoughts about going for more.  Just imagine, everything (including time) that I am able to give Aiden, it will be halved if a second one comes along!

Perhaps I need a less stressful/demanding job. And oh, more money.


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