What’s the Best Time to Have a Baby? – Ask yourself these 10 questions

There is a lot of debate around what is the right age and time to give first birth. And the truth is – 

There is no right time to get pregnant!!

I would like to kick off this article with Indra Nooyi’s comment on the question “Why women can’t have it all?”. And she said that biological clock and career clock are in total conflict. They go hand in hand and women have to find a right balance.

No one can tell you when is the right time to become a mother. This is a very personal decision but of course, with my little research and asking few people around, these are some of the questions you should ask yourself in order to get some clarity:

1)    Am I happy with my career progression so far?

Smart women know where their career is heading. They generally have a goal in their mind. And at every stage, one evaluates whether I am on right track or do I need to push myself more? After about 7-8 years of experience, you have kind of made a mark for yourself in the industry and you have enough proof to showcase the good work. It’s not a bad time to take a break and focus on family life for a while. Of course, that doesn’t mean quitting the job but just being less aggressive on career goals.

2)    What am I planning to achieve in next 5 years? (personal goals)

This is again a very personal question because everyone has their own path of achieving success whether personal or professional. If one have clarity on the goals for next 5 years then she is in a better position to plan a family. If goals are too aggressive then may wait till you are happy with yourself.

3)    Am I happy in my relationships?

Ask yourself if you are happy with your current relationships. If your future looks bright and stable, go for it.

4)    Is my partner ready to have a child?

Some men just freak out in the name of being a father. They are just not happy with all the frills that come along – losing the wife to the child, changing diapers, waking up at nights and always being available for the child. It’s better to discuss with the partner if he is happy to have a child and ready to share the burden of bringing up a child. His consent is important no matter how much you want to have a child. And vice versa.


5)    Are we financially stable? Or do we have enough savings?

The money would never be enough. Wants are endless. But as mature individuals, evaluate the overall expenses to judge if you are happy to raise a child without any financial stress. I think this is very important because, at times, there are fights in a family because of the financial burden of raising a child. Before child, two people are contributing to the household income and therefore disposal income is high. Now one person is working and there is an additional member of the family to take care. For some families, it is a huge shift and it takes a while for them to adjust.


6)    Am I healthy?

Women need to be healthy to produce healthy babies. Blood pressure, sugar are some of the common diseases that are seen these days. It’s best to have a child when the body is healthy.


7)    What is my age?

We all know that with age, the body doesn’t function as smooth as when we are young. It is good to have a baby early than later. Another important aspect is that after childbirth, body retracts much faster when you are young. That means women who are worried about losing their body curve after pregnancy should plan to give birth at a younger age. With good diet and exercise, there are higher chances that you can get back to your pre-pregnancy weight much faster. But if you still have question on right age – read this.


8)    Do you have a motherly feeling when you see a baby/toddler?

I think this could be a sign on whether you would like to have your own child. Looking at other people’s baby/child evokes a strong feeling of love. If you are experiencing something like that, rest assured you are ready to have a child.


9)    Are you happy to sacrifice your Social life for few years?

Having a child is a commitment for life. The young baby needs a lot of time. At times, new mothers don’t even get time to pee peacefully. Meeting with friends, dinner outings etc. can be thing of the past. You won’t even realize because you are so busy with the newborn. But social life does take a backseat after child’s birth.

Child comes first


10)    Why do you want to have your own child?

This is more of a soul searching question. You just have to give a thought on whether you want to have your own child or you want to adopt. There are many kids in this world who are looking for a suitable home and good parents. In order to be a parent, one doesn’t need to give birth to a child. So, have a good thought and then decide.

Please don’t have a child just because all your friends/colleagues are giving birth. Everyone is in their own time zones (of life). Don’t get pressurized by your family too. Nobody but you who will have to commit, taking care of your child. There would be tough days, tougher and some days will be even crazier than that. You should be prepared (or at least willing) to take to take on those challenges.

Things to Look Out For When Hiring a FDW (Maid/Helper)

As working women, our lives are highly dependent on helpers/maid. Most of the helpers(FDW) hired are not fully trained. Helpers/FDW from Indonesia and Philippines get some training in their own country (based on my conversations from my own helper) but helpers from other countries don’t even get the basic training. From example- Fresh helpers coming in from North India are not trained. Most of the times, they don’t even know what they are supposed to do because agents who have lured them, don’t give them much idea about the work.

I have had my share of troubles with the helpers/maids. But still, we managed to complete the contract with our helpers(FDW).


Here are few tips when you are looking to hire a helper:-

1)    Avoid agents/middlemen if possible:


Unless you are in desperate need, take your time to look for helpers on your own. The best source of finding for a helper contact would be Facebook groups. Post your requirements in various groups and someone will definitely respond to the message. Either they would know the helper or at least their helper would know someone who would be keen to work. It is much better to use your network. That would save around $1500 -$2000 that agents usually charge.
The only advantage of going through the agent is because agents offer you replacements with some replacement fee but that cost is also not low. Also, it also lowers your intent to adjust with the helper because, at the back of your mind, you still have the option to change her.


2)    Direct apply for the maid’s visa:


The direct hire procedure is very simple. One doesn’t need a middleman to do the process. One can go to MOM website, log in from your sing Pass, fill the details of the helper and follow the instructions. After submitting the form, it takes 2-5 working days for approval. Download the form I,e IPA letter and send it to your maid(waiting in her hometown). While maid is coming to Singapore, she must have three things with her – IPA letter, Insurance paper, and her passport. For Insurance, one can call up, NTUC agent and request for Insurance.(Get the call-in numbers online). The process is ultra simple and takes a couple of hours to get the insurance.


3)    Maid’s SIP:


As soon as the helper/FDW comes in, within two working days she has to go for SIP (Settling In Program). Again, search for SIP training and register online. Ideally, this should be done before helper lands in Singapore because getting last minute slot could be difficult. There are two centers where this training is conducted. Whichever center is closer to your house, please take the helper to that location. Please make sure that your helper has minimum 8 years of qualifications else she won’t allow the helper to appear in the training program. There are some fees attached to it which employer has to pay. Also, SIP training is only for first-time helpers. Helpers those who have already worked here for few months/years are exempted from this training.
If you the first time employer, you have to go for Employers’ Orientation Programme (EOP). This is a 3hour online program that will help understand your role and responsibilities as an employer of a foreign domestic worker (FDW).And this is a mandatory training.


4)    Hire experienced FDW:


I would suggest one should look for experienced maid compared to new maids. As in both the cases, there is advantages/disadvantages but the cost of training the new maid is high. Also, first few months are very tough for the new helpers as they are homesick, strange to live in someone else’s house, no friends etc. On top of that employer’s are trying hard to train her so that she is up to the speed. Because of this situation, there are higher chances that helpers leave within six months. All the time, effort and money are wasted. Alternatively, with an experienced helper, challenges are different. She is already aware of the environment, has some friends around, knows the kind of work she is supposed to do etc. So, it is a lot easier to train her. As long as you have clear set of house rules and she understands her work, chances are the helper will adjust in the family faster.


5)    Background Check:


In case you have decided to go with an experienced helper, you must ask for last employer’s contact. Some helpers have a genuine reason to quit but most of them fool around for no reason. They work for few months and then start looking for change for a higher salary or because of her own bad behavior. Most of the employers don’t do this as of now. And because of that, hiring is just an estimated guess. If you do talk to the last employer, most of the times, if the helper hasn’t completed the contract, they will talk ill about her but use your wisdom to make a decision. The challenges in the new house may not be same for the maid. This should be a trend moving forward in order to filter the bad helpers.


6)     Interviewing the helpers:


This is very crucial part of maid hiring process. While interviewing, employers generally gave them an overview of the tasks that needs to be done. For example – you will have to take care of cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids etc. generally, most of the interviews last for less than 30mins. And that seems to be a problem. When you have almost finalized the helper, give the details of the work that she has to do, let her know the basic house rules, where she will sleep, what would be her sleeping hours, how big is the house etc? She should have some idea of what she is getting into so that there are no shocks/surprises when she comes to your house. In case you are looking for tips on questions to ask- check this out

In order to get more tips and information, please drop me a note by filling in the form below.

Are You Ready For a Second Baby? Things to consider….

If someone would have asked this question 2 years ago, I wouldn’t know what to say. The first born is just so special that it is already a lot to occupy your mind. For the first child, there are many unknown factors that parents are trying to figure out and that is the reason there is a lot of time and attention that goes to the first one.

First time parents are always worried about their child’s developmental milestones. I remember an incident when me and husband went to the doctor for a regular growth check.We requested the doctor to check her left leg at least 3 times because as parents we were concerned that she doesn’t put both her feet on the floor (she was barely 6mns).The doctor smiled and asked “are you first time parent?” and we said “yes”! And that incident amuses me because now she runs faster than bullet.

The pressure of handling a child comes down when she/he turns 2. Parents get some room to think about second one. During my second pregnancy, I noticed that many pregnant women in hospital who came for their regular check were accompanied by pre-teens . That amazed me. And I was little worried – Did I plan little early? It was too late to ask that question. But for other women who are planning for a second child, you must ask yourself following questions. Remember everyone is in their own timezone!

Why do I want a second baby?

This should be clear in your head. It is very expensive to raise a child in today’s times. That shouldn’t deter anyone to plan another baby because resources can always be shared. But the question is why do you want another baby? Is it because you are looking for a company for the elder one? Is it because you want to be a parent again because elder one is already in school? Is it because you desired to have a different gender and now again you want to try for a baby boy or girl? Clarifying these questions are important because that will determine the time on when you want to have the baby.

When do I want a baby?

To my earlier question, why will determine when? If you are looking for company for your first child, it’s better to plan sooner than later. Because kids generally want to play with similar age group. Another advantage of having a second baby sooner is because all the baby stuff can still be used like stroller, baby cradle, baby tub etc. From financial perspective, it totally makes sense. But in case you just want to be a parent again only when elder one is completely independent then that also works because then elder child becomes more of your helping hand. Also, raising second baby is lot easier because you don’t have to juggle between the kids. You can give your maximum time and attention to the younger child without being worried about the elder one.

What is my support mechanism?

In case you decide to go for a second baby sooner, it is important to evaluate your support system. Because one needs a lot of help when the babies are younger. There are situations that are tough to handle like – a cranky toddler and a crying baby, toddlers and baby falling sick together, chances of baby catching virus from toddler, watching out toddler if he/she doesn’t stifle the baby, managing toddler’s tantrums while your baby needs utmost attention. Trust me it is not easy. Make sure you have enough help at home to manage because raising two young kids can be a traumatic experience. If the age gap is longer than your elder turns out to be a strong support system. Elder one is more than excited for the baby and they are old enough to understand and help the mother.

How am I going to split my time?

This is again a question when you are planning a baby sooner. Each child needs mother’s attention. No matter how much love a child gets from other members of the family but he/she will still crave for mother’s attention. So, it’s important to know that if your elder one is still young, you should have sufficient time with him/her. If mother is working then it becomes very challenging because whatever time is left after coming back home, it is very hard to split equally.Also, given that the mother is already tired from day’s work.

Do I want to continue to work?

And the earlier question will lead to this question – Do you plan to continue to work after the second child? This is very important decision of life because many women are not ready to give up their career because of personal life. And one should not, absolutely. In today’s world, technology has enabled women/parents to keep a close watch on their kids even when they are away. It is just a matter of time management and better planning. In case you are planning to quit the job, then it should be comparatively easier to manage.

Can we afford a bigger space?

One of the changes that I noticed soon after my second born was the need for the bigger space. Babies usually have their own needs like night feeding, being cranky at night, sleeping during day time etc. Also, there are tonnes of baby stuff, toddler things that needs to be stocked up. So, you need extra storage space. I remember when we moved recently, half of our luggage were all toys and baby stuff. And that is pretty normal when you have kids at home.

Age/Health?

Again this is something that all women should consider while giving birth. Usually doctors recommend that the first baby should be born before 30 years of age. But these days, working women are delaying their first born. Again, if first born is delayed then one should consider/plan for second born sooner than later.

These are some of the basic questions which I feel should be considered while you are planning for a second baby. If there are any other questions which you feel is vital, please drop them in comment. It would be useful for women those who are in planning stage.

Amazing hang out place for kids! ArtScience Museum Singapore

It was fantabulous to visit the ArtScience museum at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. School holidays are on and I have been cracking my head to bring her out. This was on my list for a long time.

Because of the school holidays, it was more crowded than expected. We stood in the queue to get our tickets. But I would suggest, it is better to book online as online ticket collection queue was shorter.

Soon we got our tix. The staff at the counter was friendly and polite. They showed us the way to proceed to the exhibition. I did ask Rhea if she wanted to go to the washroom as the toilet was right beside the ticketing counter. And I was not sure if we could come out once entered. (We can btw).

Gentleman at the entrance cautioned us that clicking picture with flash wasn’t allowed. So, one can take pictures, just don’t turn on the flash.  

As we entered there was a Q to enter in a small dark room. Inside the room, there was a spotlight and everyone sat around there. No one had a clue on what was coming. So, the crowd was looking around when a loud music started with light show. I felt that the floor was moving. But still not sure if it was. The gazillion lights were moving very fast on the screen. It felt like we were on a roller coaster ride in space. Some people felt dizzy and went out in the middle of the show. Rhea and I enjoyed the show till the end. It lasted for about 10mins. Then people moved on  to the next destination. Little ahead there was a big hall with bean bags lying on the floor. People were sitting and enjoying the soothing music and imaginary sea side. I took the below pic there.

ArtScience Museum Singapore

Next we went up the stairs. On top there was giant slide with colourful pictures and interactive light. Everyone including grown ups were enjoying the slide. Me and Rhea also plunged and landed on soft carpet. It was smooth and breezy.

We walked in to see there was a giant canvas with moving city on it. There were truckes/houses/ spaceships and what not. All of them were of different colors and but sizes are more or less same. The people were sitting around with their kids, colouring pictures on drawing sheets. Check this out –

                                          Digital Interactive Wall +ArtScienceMuseum Education 

One girl went to the printer like machine, input her design and then pressed a yellow button. She quickly ran and started staring at the wall as if she was locating something. I didn’t understand what’s going on. I asked a lady staff. And she explained that one has to color the drawing and then scan it and your drawing will start showing on the digital wall. Me and Rhea sat down and coloured few pictures. Rhea went and scanned hers. After few seconds, she was jumping with joy seeing her drawing come alive… It was exciting indeed. There were many other interesting digital activities like giant lit balls that kids were throwing at each others. Interactive floor, hotch – potch design maker and many more.

                                          Giant Lit Ball +ArtScienceMuseum Education 

Interactive Hotch-Potch Station
Interactive Floor -ArtScience Museum

Most exciting thing for Rhea was the slide. It was indeed a hit among kids as they were doing again and again. With other parents, I was enjoying the fun and laughter of the kids. One can easily spend 3-4 hours inside the museum and kids still don’t get bored.

Ticket Prices is as below :

ArtScience Museum Ticket Prices

DROP IN YOUR COMMENT TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE.

                                                  Giant Slide that I was talking about earlier

Doubled Maternity Leave Might Actually Work Against Women!

The newly passed Maternity Bill in Rajya Sabha increases the leaves of a pregnant mother from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The Indian government is lauded internationally for this step as India becomes the country with third highest maternity leave behind Canada and Norway that gives 50 weeks and 44 weeks respectively. The downside is in India, only 27% of women are working. And out of this population, only 1.8mn are part of organized labor. A vast majority of women will not be benefitted from this change.

As a mother, I feel very happy for fellow mothers or women who are thinking of having a child. This is good for women who are in the current workforce and thinking of getting pregnant. But what about the fresh graduates or women who are planning to switch roles for career progression? This change will have a negative impact on their careers.

Employers would be reluctant to take on more women for the fear of paying them during maternity leave. India may be ahead in giving more maternity leave but it has a lot to catch up on gender equality at the workplace. There are efforts being made to hire more women at senior levels but still, not enough.

Companies may project as advocates of gender equality or equal opportunity employer but at the ground level, there is a silent discrimination happening that everyone is aware of. I don’t see this decision (of extending maternity leave) as a progressive step as this may cause more trouble for women who are seeking employment. Given that there are fewer opportunities in market due to global meltdown.

More than having a longer maternity leave, women need better arrangements at the workplace like having a maternity ward, maternity bonus, mothers can take rest/nap during work hours or leaving office early for initial days so that she can catch up with the baby. These measures would have been a lot more effective than having a longer maternity leave. The companies would welcome such change too. 

Alternatively, along with this change, PM Modi should also announce a certain percentage of reservation for women in offices (depending on the size of the company). Reservations in any field have never been efficient but it has been helpful in bringing up a section of society that has been left behind. There are many women in India who drop out every year from the workforce, leaving behind their flourishing career because they want to have a family. Most of the current workplace doesn’t offer opportunity for working women and they care less about their women employees.

For smaller companies, having an employee who has six months of paid maternity leave is a big deal. Though the positive is that the employee may stay on longer but the immediate liability will deter them to hire women. For example -When I joined back after my first maternity leave, my boss used to ask if I am planning for a second baby soon. These are examples of some of the questions that new mothers are being asked post maternity.

This could be a welcome change for women working in government organizations but women who are working in private sector, it is going to be more difficult. As soon as women announce their pregnancy in office, the co-workers and manager’s attitude change. She is being ignored for any new upcoming projects/events as she is expected to be away for a while. Now that”for a while” becomes 26 weeks and that is going to worsen the situation in private firms.

This change is a liability which not many companies would like to take in future. And there are mixed responses regarding this change. But overall it will turn out to be negative for career women.

If you have a different point of view, please drop a comment below. Let the discussion begin.