If you’ve been toying with the idea of hiring someone to help with the kids, here are all the options available to you in Singapore…
You’ve hacked it out by yourself long enough with a bub and a job – and without any help. You now know you’re a superwoman, but it’s also time to admit that you deserve a bit of “me time”. A fellow mummy friend tells you she’s got a nanny, and recently hired a helper…
“What’s the difference?” you ask. Well plenty, as a matter of fact. If you didn’t know by now, there’s more than one type of childcare option available for parents in Singapore. Besides helpers, you’ve also got babysitters, nannies and even au pairs at your disposal should you need someone to watch your kids while you’re at work, need a few hours to yourself or for that special date night. What’s the difference between each of them, and how do you decide whether a nanny or helper will suit you best? Read on to find out…
Childcare in Singapore: how to choose between a nanny, helper or au pair
A helper, also known as a maid, is usually a live-in foreign domestic worker (FDW), from the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, China or India. She helps maintain the house and may carry out other duties. You can find a helper through Summit Manpower or We Are Caring.
Roles: Mainly cleaning and cooking, but may also be tasked to take care of kids, special needs patients, the elderly and pets.
Pros: Majority of people living in Singapore, local and expats, depend on their helper for practically everything, from cleaning and cooking to picking the kids up from school.
Cons: You’ll have to ‘train’ them to adapt to the way you like things done. Depending on the country they come from, some may not be able to speak English well.
Costs: Current average salaries for a FDW range from around $450-$700 per month, depending on how experienced they are.
A nanny is a person who provides live-in or temporary childcare services. Need a nanny? Check Nanny Pro or Find a Nanny!
Roles: Childcare, but not infant care.
Pros: You’re guaranteed professional childcare with training from nanny agencies and even nanny college! Norland Nannies hail from a world famous college in the UK and will be closest thing you’ll get to Mary Poppins. A Norland Nanny’s salary starts at £26,000 a year… that’s more than S$47,000!
Cons: Nannies only take care of your kids. You’ll have to do all the cleaning yourself or hire a helper for that.
Costs: You can hire a temporary nanny by the hour. NannyPro charges $205 for 9 hours. Full-time nannies are more expensive because you’re paying for experience.
A confinement nanny is someone who takes care of you and your infant specifically during your confinement period. You can opt to use Thomson Medical Centre‘s Confinement Nanny service or NannySOS. You can also send your current helper to attend a confinement nanny training course at Thomson Medical Centre.
Roles: She prepares healthy confinement meals and your confinement baths, plus provides infant care and assistance with baby feeding and diaper changing. Some of them double up as night nurses. A confinement nanny also takes care of basic household cleaning and laundry as well as provides advice and tips on babycare for frazzled first-time mums.
Pros: Yours and baby’s every need will be taken care of (round the clock), by a trained professional during your confinement period.
Cons: Confinement nannies usually only stick around for the first month. But, it’s becoming increasingly popular to get them to stay for a few more weeks or months, until the mother gets a hang of things. Either way, you’ll have to bid goodbye to your confinement nanny sooner or later!
Costs: Varies according to live-in, daytime, nighttime or ad hoc, experience and independent or agency. A confinement nanny’s basic salary starts at around $2800 for 28 days, not including traditional red packets on first and last day, food expenses or levy charges.
A babysitter is a person who lives near you or your workplace, and who’s willing to watch your child for short periods of time. Check out Babysitters.sg for their latest listings.
Roles: Picking up your child from school, childcare and sometimes light cooking for the child.
Pros: You might use these babysitters on an ad hoc basis, but they are still experienced and reliable professionals. So, you know your kids are in good hands.
Cons: Since it depends a lot on proximity, if your schedules don’t line up, you’ll be in a spot of trouble.
Costs: Prices range by experience and starts from $18 an hour.
Au Pair (meaning “on equal terms”) is a cultural exchange programme which allows a young person to live with a host family abroad. They are usually young women interested in travelling, picking up a new language and immersing themselves in a new culture. You can find an Au Pair through www.greataupair.com or www.aupair.com.
Roles: As part of the arrangement, the Au Pair helps out with the housework and provides some childcare services in exchange for living with the family. However, she’s not a full-time cleaning lady or nanny. The terms for Au Pairs may differ between countries.
Pros: They’ll give you and your kids exposure to a new culture and may end up being part of your family.
Cons: Since many of them are uni students on their gap year, they may not have training or experience with children.
Cost: You’ll need to provide your Au Pair with food, board and a weekly allowance. There’s no fixed price but you can get an idea of how much it might cost from this list of recommended allowances for different countries.
You can register as an Au Pair or a family through IAPA (International Au Pair Association) or IAPO (International Au Pair Organisation).
Like this guide to childcare options in Singapore? Check out this list of awesome courses for your helper!