Some time last week, an acquaintance got in touch with me and asked me if I would like to be part of a minor study that an anthropologist from Sweden is conducting about family life and stay-at-home-mums in Singapore. I was intrigued by the fact that a Swedish would be interested about us Singaporean mums, so I agreed.
Through a brief exchange of messages, I found out a little more about the study. “So i am interested from a sociological perspective how mothers manage work – family balance, and hence I am interested in recording experiences from mothers who have quit their fulltine jobs or started to work part time or running a small business instead. The interview would focus on your experiences of being a mother and how that has impacted your view on work, what challenges and opportunities you face and so forth.” Interesting, I thought and arranged to meet with the anthropologist.
I met Kristina, the anthropologist, who is also an assistant professor at Lund University, at a cafe and after a short introduction, we started with the interview.
Kristina asked me how I decided that I wanted to stay home to be with my children instead of choosing other childcare options. The discussion refreshed my purpose of staying home to be with the kids.
“I don’t want to miss the milestones. My husband and I want to discipline the children ourselves, and we don’t want to have to blame others for spoiling our children,” I told her.
She went on to ask about our expectations about our children’s education and whether we would consider getting tutors for them. She also asked if I would consider going back to full time work when the kids are older.
She also asked if my husband and I would expect our children to support us financially when we are older.
“My husband and I both agree,” I told her, “that the best gift to our children when we are old, is to be financially independent and not require their contribution.”
She went on to ask me other questions, from what I do on a daily basis, to what my plans for the future are.
The interview took about an hour, with little interruptions from my daughter from time to time. Half way through the interview, my son also woke up from his nap, so we pretty much did the interview with my hands full.
I’m glad we managed to finish the interview despite all the distractions.
The interview pretty much reminded me why I wanted to stay home with the kids, and what my goals are as a stay-at-home-mum.
At the same time, I also hope that there are local anthropologists who are or will be doing such a study too. It would be great to find out more about the needs, wants, plans and hopes of parents who choose to stay home with their children or switch to part time work so that they can devote more time to their children. Hopefully parents from across all income levels will be captured in the studies too.