We got home from Caitlin's classmate's birthday party a couple of hours ago. While making small talk with the boy's father, I learnt that both he and his wife work and leave their two sons to be cared for by live-in maids. They hired two, one to care for the kids and the other to maintain their 2 1/2-storey home. The father sends the two boys to kindy in the morning but after school, a hired driver fetches them home. The house is installed with CCTV for the mum to monitor the maids and kids while in the office. I could tell that both kids are very much loved and adored and live a good and protected life.
We compared notes about schooling options next year (when our kids start formal primary education), and discovered that we've registered our kids to the same Chinese school. They, like us, are also a non-Mandarin speaking family and are apprehensive (like us too) about the kid's ability to cope in school.
Caitlin has the opportunity to get additional Mandarin reading lessons since I'm around to take her for extra-curricular enrichment activities, including music lessons. She has me at her disposal 24/7 so to speak, while her classmate stays home with his 'kakak' until his parents return home in the evening.
It is a choice all couples have to make once they have kids. If both are working, the dual income translates into higher costs of maintaining home and family via hired help. Less time in a day is spent with kids and the kids are pretty much home-based after school (unless you have trusted hired help or extended family to lend support for outside activities). All is not lost however if a balance is achieved somehow when quality time is spent and extra activities provided for over the weekend and holidays. It's not the quantity but quality.
If one parent chooses to stay home, the much-decreased income translates into less spending on hired help like maids (unless you can still afford the same lifestyle on one income), more opportunities for the kids to have outside activities, more attention from the parent.
For us, we've had to do without the maid and revise our budget. Our apartment always looks dusty and cluttered, especially with Caitlin's toys. On the other hand, I don't need to worry or install a CCTV to ensure my child's safety. I get to spent loads of time with Caitlin (...but how much of it is quality time I sometimes wonder!)
I guess whatever choice you make, you'll win some and lose some.
Just make the best of it!!
(I'm telling myself this actually! I miss not having to watch the clock, buying books by the dozen, travelling and enjoying life's little luxuries...and I wonder when I can stop battling detergent allergy!)