9 Worries of Singaporean Mothers

Singapore has to be one of the best, if not the best country in the world to be a woman. There is hardly any Asian countries, or even the world, that can match up with Singapore in terms of education, career opportunities, respect and equality as compared to men. Let's not go into absolute equality today, because that is a century long debate without any meaningful conclusion.

Being a woman is in Singapore is great but being a mother? Recently I have been sending my Afghani colleague to and fro work because he lost his car to a nasty car accident. During one of our conversations, I asked my passenger what did his wife do in Afghanistan. He looked at me curiously and replied, "I don't understand your question."

I rephrased my question such that my colleague, who was a little weak in English, would understand. "Oh!" he paused for a few moments. "No woman in my country work. They stay at home to cook and take care of the house." As far as I know, Afghanistan is part of Asia. Yes, I know it is a difficult argument because there are too many factors to define the "best place." If you put safety as a factor, then the busy Singaporean woman who has to juggle work, demanding bosses, kids, teachers, maids and mother-in-laws will be still in a better place compared to the happy Afghanistan homemaker who can lose her life anytime without rhyme or reason.

I can accept many Singaporean women do not relish the idea of being stay-at-home mums. There are mothers who actually rate a successful career the same importance as family. In fact, that actually highlights how ambiguous a concept of a "best place" can be. What are really the right markers? I suppose the Australian "no worries" is a good start to look at things. The lesser worries a mother has, the better the place being one.

I can list you 9 common worries of the Singaporean Mother without cracking slow brain. Many of you should be able to resonate with them.

1. Money
It does not buy happiness but it can cure some worries for sure. In fact, it helps eliminate most of the issues down this list. We have not seen our government mouthpiece telling us that Singapore is one of the cheapest place to raise a kid because that simply can't be done, even if they play around with statistics.

2. Getting Pregnant
Most of us believe getting pregnant is only about having sex at the right time. We used to think Singaporeans were not having babies because they didn't want them. Recently we see many couples not being able to get pregnant even if they want children. This important article may change your mind [link], take note of the chilling traits that Singapore is having. Our birthrate problem may be much more serious that what we think it is.

3. School
The elitist mentality in Singapore drives most parent to a neck-breaking dragon chasing journey to get their kids into the best school and even the best tuition centres these days. It is not a secret what some parents have to subject themselves to just to get a chance to enroll their children into the schools they want. These addition stress and worries take off the fun of being parents. In fact, it sucks.

4. Child Care
The average family will struggle financially if it operates on a single income model. Child care is too expensive and eats up bulk of the mother's salary. In recent years, there are even vacancies issues with accessible, affordable childcare for the working parents. Parents end up with no time for kids and not much more disposable income at the end of the month. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So parents have to resort to;

5. The Maid
In an ideal world, it is stress-free living with an outsider day in, day out. In reality, it isn't. We do not need further elaboration here. Abuse, communication problem, personality clash, wages tussle, leave, boyfriends, maid pregnancy, privacy issues etc.etc. Even if parents are lucky enough to hire a perfect maid, she will be a surrogate mother to some degree. Is that a true complete family in Singaporeans' mind?

6. Exams
It isn't uncommon to hear mothers using their annual leave for school exams instead of taking a break from work. Parents burnt books with kids after exams. Tell me there isn't an element of stress behind these behavior. Truth to be told, parents are stressed out, especially the mothers.

7. Illnesses
HFMD, Dengue, SARS, the annual Haze. If anyone is to get sick, the children are the most vulnerable. The potency of diseases or viruses increases with a higher population density. No doubt about it. Just imagine if Singapore gets another SARS outbreak. It was deadly for a 4 million population on this tiny island in 2003. It will be worse for a 5.3 million population today. It will be catastrophic with a 6.9 million population. If the government failed to plan our infrastructure to our population growth, just wait until the next mysterious virus outbreak to hit Singapore to see if they prepared Singapore well enough to a virus disaster.

8. Work
Singapore does not have the best culture, those who worked overseas before can attest to that. Many of us bring work home, mentally if not physically. How many of us have experienced waking up in sleep dreaming of work? How many of us receive calls outside working hours for work-related matters? In Singapore, work engulfs our souls. 

9. Long Working Hours
Singapore workers clock the highest number of hours at work. They sell their lives [link] in exchanged for promised dreams. One day we will retire in glory. Maybe, just maybe. The extra number of hours spend at work is detriment to our health. To make things worse, we have a "自己保重” (save your own arse) medical system in Singapore. Our bodies will claim back the extra hours of work and the lack of sleep one day like an inflated credit card account. Payback time will be painful.

Being is mother in Singapore is far from "no worries". No doubt mothers in other Asia countries will face similar issues, but at least half of the factors are unique to Singapore. With a many more worries to handle, is Singapore really the best place to be a mother?


  1. If it is good, the fertility rate will not be one of the lowest in the world.

  2. So true... Singapore women are superwomen. Now what she needs to do is fly away to another country.

  3. > How many of us have experienced waking up in sleep dreaming of work?
    > The extra number of hours spend at work is detriment to our health.

    Too much time spent at work results in insufficient rest/sleeping time. Lack of sleeping time is detrimental to our brains according to scientific research.

  4. I agree with what is written here..That is one reason why I stopped with one child.If I want to have another child,really sad to say I dont want to have the child in Sg..Feel that their childhood is been lost totally and we as mothers have no lives at all..