The Dollars and Sense of this 'Parenting Business'

Thursday, 16 August 2012

As parents, if we could, we would give our kids the best.

The best education, the best toys, the best in necessities, the best care there is. Alas, we all know that sometimes that is not possible, and we have to actually settle for something which we are more comfortable with, which also meets the requirements. In a country like Singapore where everything can almost be measured by dollars and cents, sometimes it is tough to maintain a family based on just the bare necessities.

Before we were parents, perhaps it is all too tempting to judge on why couples choose to only have one child, or even none. It is too easy to wonder why many people aren't stepping up to the government's call to have more children. No one really can understand what parenthood entails - until they have children of their own.

Before marriage, we get asked on when we would be getting married.
After the wedding, it will be when we will be having a child.
When the child is conceived and running around pushing your limits, you get asked on when another is expected.
Then when the second child is of the same gender as the first, you get asked to 'try' for another kid in the hope of having one of the opposite gender.

So easy to say. And perhaps even easy to do.
Which then begs the next question:
Are all these people going to be paying for the diapers, milk, education and basic living expenses?

Perhaps I'm one of those parents who would prefer to try to provide the best that I can for one child, as opposed to having more and having to live hand to mouth, wondering where money for the next tin of Formula is coming from (please don't judge!). I would rather my child grow up never feeling needy, for I will try to give him what I can as long as it is within reason and I see the benefits of it in the long run. That said, I am also someone who knows the importance of being prudent, and I would ensure that BabyMoo understands this concept long before he knows the usage of "I want ... " or "I need ... ".

DaddyMoo and I are both working. We maintain a comfortable lifestyle, but we are not swimming in riches. We can't just walk into a showroom, point at things and pay cash in four figures on the spot. We can't buy big ticket items without saving up or cutting (a lot of) corners. But we have always tried to provide for the kid as much as our bank account will allow.

We wanted a Bugaboo Bee stroller - but at $2000 (with a newborn bassinet) it was way too much to pay for. So we chose a Quinny Zapp instead, and with a stroke of luck, got a preloved one for 0.05% of the price of a Bugaboo. It still works fine, almost 19 months later - and an item which has paid for itself and outlasted its purchase price.

That was how it went for us. Coupled with the lifestyle adjustments when baby came along, we have had to also take stock of our 'wants' vs 'needs'. We weren't only living for our individual selves now, we have a family to care for, and whatever we can save on is banked for another item which we may need in the future.

BabyMoo is at an age where he knows exactly what he wants, and is determined to get it. This usually applies to toys, in his case, and while we try to give him what he wants most of the time, he also knows that he only gets certain toys at certain times, and not all that his little heart desires. He's always wanted a motorized car or scooter (even before he turned one) but at $300plus for a mid-priced range, we have put it off for as long as we can. We would rather get it for him when he's more able to maneuver the toy on his own safely. Thankfully, he hasn't been known to throw tantrums or have meltdowns when we explain to him as to why he cannot have a certain toy in store, but my heart breaks every time I see him stare longingly at the objects in question whenever we're at a toy store which has it on display.

Which was why when he saw a motorized scooter at Jennifer's son's birthday party, he became quite upset when he couldn't monopolize the toy. I was rather surprised (not to mention embarrassed) by his behaviour, because having a tearful meltdown when he couldn't get what he wants is just so unlike him. Perhaps to him, there is a difference between seeing the item in a store as opposed to in a home.

The object of tearful desire

I never truly understood what my friends (who had children before I did) meant when they mentioned that 'the early years is easy, wait till they start going to school'. Now I totally understand. Diapers, Formula, clothes and toys are practically 'measly' expenses as compared to schooling costs.

On the subject of child care, education, and pre-school choice, we 'want' to send him to certain schools... but we have had to weigh our options so as to ensure that the schooling is something that we can afford, and not something which I would have to take an extra part-time job for. We decided on an amount that would be comfortable to us, and searched for schools which meet that price range based on recommendations and friends' experiences. At the end of the day, we figured that while school is important as a foundation for growth, how the child fares will also be based on his abilities and ultimately, our guidance. I intend to be there for him every step of the way.

Parenting is definitely not as easy as making the children in question. It involves a whole lot of hard work, overcoming errors, learning from mistakes, understanding a child's psychology (every child is different, even more so in siblings) and money. It's not about trying to provide them with the most expensive there is, because when it comes to individual kids, expensive does not necessarily equate to what works best for them.

For as long as necessary, we will always try to provide for BabyMoo as much as we can afford to. It's all too tempting to think about having another child, but for the time being, we are still finding our way with the one which we have. It's definitely not easy being a parent, especially if we factor in financial consideration on top of the mental, physical and emotional requirements.

It just makes me appreciate my mother more. I don't know how she raised her two kids single handedly, because I don't remember ever feeling in 'want' of anything, especially not when it comes to school, or meals. I never knew what it was like to be hungry, because even though I was often disallowed another book, there was always food on the table. I went to school with a clean uniform, never had to wear patched up clothes, and had pocket money for recess. Only as I grew older did I know how much she struggled to fill our stomachs, and it was because of this that I made a resolution to always stress the importance of never taking anything for granted to BabyMoo, once he is older. It is also because of this that I usually restrain myself from buying him everything that he wants - in the hope that he is made to understand that he cannot always get what his heart desires. 

This parenting business made me grow up. I think all of us who became parents did, in a lot of little ways.

Linking up with:

     Found the Marbles


  1. Especially in Singapore! Cost of living is sooo high! -_-

    1. Haiz... ya lah. We need more subsidies! :p

  2. Hi
    My boy actually has a rechargeable motorized scooter, but he has outgrown it. Its black color, not new, but in good working condition. If u dont mind, I can pass to BabyMoo.


    1. Hi Eileen!

      Thanks for your very very generous offer, but Jennifer and her son has kindly given the bike to BabyMoo! :)

      Really appreciate your kind thoughts, though!

  3. I enjoy this post It echos the sentiments of every mums I am sure. It does seem like mothers of young kids these days have so much more care, not because we want to, but the cost of living is beginning to put a strain on families so it does extra effort to manage how we use our money as you highlighted. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That's true, Sharon... we do have the money, but we just have to be ultra careful about how it's spent.

      We can live frugally, but sometimes it's hard to deny our kids the things (we feel) that they deserve.

  4. Love what you have written and absolutely agree!

    We were searching for childcares too and had to access what is manageable for us - not cost us an arm / a leg... all in the midst of still wanting to provide the best for our child in other ways!

    1. Hi Lixia!

      Childcare is headache for the parents! When we find a place we think is suitable for our kids, there may be the cost factor involved. Then there are places where we can afford, but then the waiting list will stretch till maybe the kid can enter Primary 1. Then there's so much adjustments needed in terms of transportation and finances arrangements!

  5. You know Regina, you are absolutely right that the high cost of living is one major reason why couples put off having kids. In my line, I look at the statistics of cost everyday. Cost of living, cost of education, cost of hospital bills, cost of retirement, and honestly I wonder how we'll cope down especially when us the sandwich generation have to take care of our own families and also our aging parents. So the best way is really to start saving young, and start now if you haven't done anything.

    1. Yes, Susan... I absolutely agree with you.

      As for now, me and the hubs has come to an agreed decision that we will start saving more and make prudent investments so that in our 'golden years' (why do they call it that, anyway? It doesn't really apply in Singapore!) we don't have to rely on the kid(s) to take care of us.

      Our parents don't, and we are thankful for that, and we hope to be that way in the future, too.


  6. Oh gosh yes! Childcare in Singapore is SOOOO expensive! You know, I both agree and disagree with "the importance of being one", if that is possible at all. When we only had one, we knew that it was the right choice because then we'd be able to give her everything. But when we decided to have two, now we think that it's the right choice because they can share the material things, and they will always have each other to love and confide in, even when we are gone. I suppose every situation that we are currently in can be made out to be the best if we believe in it and work toward it :)

    1. Tell me about rising Childcare fees and the costs of raising a kid. Oh, why not make it three!

    2. Adora,

      Of course! I would so love for C to have siblings and to see him grow up being 'unlonely'... but perhaps we shall wait till he is a wee bit older (like perhaps 4 or 5). God willing, plus if my eggs still have any clout - we will start the crazy timings and night feeds and baby bawling times again! Haha!

      I agree with you. When push comes to shove, we will definitely find a way.

    3. Liz,

      I still dunno how you do it. Seriously.

      I think I'll go bonkers first, even if my body doesn't give way!

  7. hi,
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    i found your blog by accident and been reading some stuff on it which i find kind of interesting,they're mostly all fact of life...
    I've recently started a blog about achieving financial freedom,its not about silly ways or scams of how to make money, infact its about how money can turns our world upside down preventing us from doing what we want to do when we want to..
    for eg.. we all know the saying TIME IS MONEY,
    But very few knows why time is money,you can always have all the riches in the world but if you don't have that time to enjoy that money with your family or do other things which makes you happy,so whats it worth to have all those riches

    For am so enamored by what your doing here i wish you can critic my blog,and i have some interesting topics which am about to post,i do allow you to copy any interesting info which you may find useful to your blog..please check it out

    Am kind of doing same thing you are,helping people realize the fact of life,despite all the pain and turmoil which exist their still is a solution to a happy life...really like the blog keep posting,just hope we can do a project someday,
    be happy to work alongside such happy family



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