Goodbye office, hello family time

Goodbye office, hello family time
A major shift in the way the state defines family seems likely, as the share of households made up of two-generation nuclear families falls below half.

Some mothers decide to leave the workforce during their children's key growing-up years

Mothers have been leaving the workforce to care for their children during key school years and not just when their kids are newborns and infants.

According to the Manpower Ministry's statistics last year, 61,200 women outside the labour force cite childcare as the main reason for not working.

"Singaporean mothers' decisions to become stay-at-home mums tend to be tied to their children's educational milestones," says Mrs Sher-li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work, a Web portal that matches prospective employers with mothers who are looking for part-time work and flexible work arrangements.

"I noticed this trend in which mothers took time out from work not only when their kids were very young, but also when the kids entered Primary 1 or Primary 5, when they start preparing for the Primary School Leaving Examination."

She started workshops to help mothers who had stayed home for two or three years to look for flexi-work.

Mrs Torrey estimates that about 35 per cent of the 17,000 mums in the Mums@Work database leave the workforce because their children were in Primary 1 or Primary 5.

Ms Thang Leng Leng, a council member of Families for Life, a non- profit that promotes resilient families, attributes this phenomenon to "greater affluence and awareness of the importance of family life".

These mothers who stop work to coach their children "tend to be more educated", she adds.

Mrs Torrey, who is also a stay-at- home mum and has two children aged six and two, says: "While the Government may have family-friendly intiatives such as those for childcare, sometimes the issue stems from the nature of work, such as work stress and long hours.

"There would be a significant proportion of women who would choose to stay home, anyway, due to the desire to contribute to their children's wellbeing."

This article was first published on March 8, 2015.
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