In Singapore, that is.
Before I resigned from my job to become a full time mommy, I set aside enough money to pay for my monthly fixed expenses (handphone bills, insurance etc) for 18 months.
I figured by then, O would be old enough to be placed in a childcare and I can return to the workforce.
Fast forward 16 months, I went for an interview for a full-time job, got the job, but they preferred me to start work in November.
O is an awkward two months away from being eligible for childcare services. He’ll be classified under infant care and the monthly fees is easily 2.5 times the amount of childcare.
On top of that, when I visited the only two infant care services available near our house, I had second thoughts.
Visit to My First Skool
I’ve heard decent reviews about this school, plus the fees are affordable. However, I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions I would feel upon putting my child in the care of another stranger. Well, to be fair, O was the one who triggered that attack.
When I visited the infant care in the afternoon, I was greeted by two female teachers.
Let me first make it clear that my boy is very friendly and actually cheers up at meeting new people. He greets everyone with a bright smile, even the two male Indian refuse collectors downstairs whenever they drive by and random people young or old. But the moment O saw the Malay teacher, he froze up. Literally. When my little boy is scared (which is super rare, the only other time I’ve had the same experience was when we first put him barefooted on sand), his entire body becomes stiff and feels cold to the touch.
Even as the teacher was introducing the facilities warmly to me, I could feel him squirming and on a verge of a major meltdown. At that point, I could feel my brain working overdrive and going Is this a wise decision to make? and
I was fighting back tears.
I pretended to snuggle my face in O’s small little body in an attempt to control my emotions.
When I left the center, I called up my husband and cried.
I told him I can’t do it.
I’m willing to put him in a play group but not this.
So, I tried another infant care center.
Visit to Apricot Academy
This center is further away from our house and a hassle to get to if it’s raining because there’s no shelter from the bus stop to the premise.
But I can sense the difference when O was there.
He felt a bit tense at the child care area but when we walked to the place where the infants were housed, he immediately loosened up. I realized the difference was that the infant care area was bigger. More space to roam and more light.
The English teachers are pretty decent but the Chinese teacher, like the one in My First Skool, has problematic enunciation. Like her “华语 hua yu” is “hua yi”. The mandarin speaking teacher in MFS still has her Malaysian accent.
The major setback however, is the distance.
So after some discussion with my husband, we agreed we should wait until O is at least 18 months old when there’s more choices for us to consider.
Thankfully, the manager of the job I was looking at told me he would bring this up to his boss and see whether they can keep the headcount for me until March.
Visit to Just Kids Learning Center
They only accept children from 18 months onwards.
I was pleased at the care taken in hygiene. The receptionist required us to sanitize our hands first before entering.
The place was bright despite the lack of natural light like that of Apricot Academy.
The Chinese teacher speaks the language perfectly and the English teacher is nice and friendly to Oliver even though she was conducting a class to the 4 year olds. She actively engaged O in their dance activity and seems comfortable with him just crashing the class.
I was happy with the place except for the lack of outdoor activities and natural lighting.
Full Day care: Working mom- $502.50, Non-working mom- $652.50 (after subsidy)
Half Day care: Working mom- $481.30, Non-working mom- same, $481.30 (after subsidy)
Flexi 3 hrs care only from 8-11 am.
Visit to Kinderland Marine Parade
Like Just Kids, there’s no natural lighting and outdoor play for the kids but the place is bright and cosy.
The Teacher is SUPERB.
Not only did O warm up to her immediately, she was able to actively engage his attention and took opportunities to learn about him and teach him even during the short period we were there.
From her actions, it was clear that she’s a very experienced teacher and genuinely loves children.
Despite the fact that we were there, unlike the teachers in MFS, she didn’t neglect the other toddlers when they came up to her and showed her their drawings (they were drawing on plastic balls), instead giving them her full attention before addressing my questions again.
Also, when we about to leave, she kept reminding Oliver to drink more water. I thought it was odd at first since she sounded particularly concerned.
The very next day, O had a fever.
Full Day care: Working mom- $820, Non-working mom- $970 (after subsidy)
Half Day care: Working mom- $720, Non-working mom- same, $720 (after subsidy)
As of now, I’m still struggling between whether to start working full-time in March or simply adopt a part-time approach for both O and myself.
When I left Kinderland, I vividly remember the teacher telling me, “Sometimes I see the kids learning something and doing something new and I said, ‘Aiya, too bad your mommy isn’t here to witness this!”
If I’m working full time, I’m probably going to be one of those she’s talking about too.
Do you face the same dilemma?