I met up with my cousin who stays in Norway and is back in Singapore for a short while. She has two kids which is about the same age as Zai and Loi. So we were talking also about breast feeding. That’s where I thought she is a SAHM since her updates on her FB suggested so. But I was quite shock to know that she is actually a FTWM. Its just she has 1 year maternity leave! Although she is only paid 80% of her pay during that one year.
I was quite surprise to hear that. Ok, I’m sua ku. I have heard of half a year maternity leave but 1 year is the first time for me. It doesn’t matter that I’m only getting 80% of my pay, its all well worth it.
First, breast feeding becomes so much easier. There is no need to worry about “expressing” it out, since you can always latch the baby. Even if baby doesn’t sleep through it doesn’t matter, cause you can rest the next day. I have know of a few Mummies who gave up breast feeding cause they are returning to work. Either their employer is not so supportive or they find it too tiring to breast feed and work at the same time. Imagine if they have a year of maternity leave, they can breast feed the baby to 1 year old. Which is the aim I’m working towards now.
Secondly, you won’t miss important milestones of your child. Personally, I didn’t get to see Zai do his first flip to his tummy. I was lucky that Loi did it on a weekend. I didn’t get to see both my kids having their first “solid” food. Didn’t get to see Zai taking his first step. All because I was working.
Next it resolves the problem of finding a care giver. I am lucky that my MIL is willing to give up her job to help take care of my kids. Well, MIL-DIL problem aside, I am really appreciative of her kindness. But for those who is not so fortunate, will end up sending their kids to infant care or leaving it with the domestic helper. Putting in infant care to me at such a young age is really “dangerous”. I mean when I told people I sent Zai to child care at the young age of 20 months, already most people think I’m crazy. So for a receptive person like me I really think that sending kids to infant care is really not ideal. Cost aside the exposure to “germs” at such a young age is really not so ideal. Ok, 12 months its not alot but certainly beat a 4 month old right?
Leaving with the helper is another story yet again. Around my area there are lots of parents who leave their young kids with the helper. I have brought Zai down to the playground on a weekday (and weekends too) and saw a group of helpers gathering at the playground with the kids. The kids played on their own while the helpers sit and chat. Some of the kids are even younger than Zai. Is it really that safe?
Of course I understand in the competitive industry of Singapore, letting a female worker go on year leave is highly impossible. Maybe for certain jobs like teaching, where they can find a relief teacher for a year its possible. But for other jobs like mine which is project base, its really difficult. If I’m away for a good one year, I am jolly well out of the project. And who is to guarantee that there will be a project waiting for me when I return back to work?
So whats your take? How long do you think a maternity leave should be?