Tuesday, 3 October 2023

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The best home for a child

By PropertySoul

A reader of my blog shares with me the dilemma that he and his wife are facing: They know they shouldn’t buy when property prices are on the way down. But they are expecting their first child and want to get a condo unit now.

Buying condo for the sake of your child

If you can afford a private property and you want to buy one, do it by all means.

But take a step back and ask yourself: Are you buying a private property for the future of your child, or just for fulfilling the Singapore dream of living in a condo?

One day you might say that you have to buy though you know prices will drop after your purchase; that you have no choice but to buy when prices are high; that you have to work two jobs to pay the mortgage – all for the sake of the next generation.

Doesn’t that sound unfair to your child?

Staying in a condo is never a pre-requisite for having babies. It has nothing to do with their welfare. The needs of newborns are very basic. For many months they practically eat, shit and sleep at the same place. When they become mobile, you just make sure that your home is child-proof. Fancy nursery rooms are decorated to satisfy the creativity of parents rather than babies.

Unlike adults, young kids don’t mind whether their home is buy or rent, an HDB or a condo, a flat or a house, and at a prime location or in a neighborhood district.

All parents want to give the best for their children – the best environment, the best upbringing and the best education. But not spending a fortune on that condo doesn’t mean that you love your child less.

A humble home for my first child

My first child was born five weeks ahead of due date after I slipped in the bathroom.

I was grateful that my baby arrived safely in this world after a record-breaking 45-minute contractions and three pushes. Carrying her in my arms I was still in shock when the nurse told me that I could be discharged in 48 hours for natural birth of a healthy baby.

We thought we still had time to shop and were caught totally unprepared. When my in-laws found that their grandchild didn’t have a baby cot, they raced against the clock to get one and had it sent to our place before we got home.

We were staying in a small one-bedroom apartment. The baby cot was delivered near the doorway. It had been there since then.

The spot was convenient for any visitor who came to see the baby. She was the last thing we saw when we left home in the morning; the first thing we saw when we came home after work.

I would like to believe that I could hear her when she cried at night. Anyway, she seemed fine being alone in the living room and soon learned to sleep overnight.

And it is a blessing that till today she can sleep like a log in any condition.

The promise of a bigger house

When this little girl turned two, we moved to an inter-terrace house to give a toddler more space to run around.

I still remember the day I held her little hand and showed her around the house, including her bedroom with the old baby cot there.

“So, how do you find our new home?”

She thought for a while and gave me an unexpected answer.

“Mommy, next time I buy you a bigger house.”

I was speechless, overwhelmed with mixed feelings of loss and nostalgia. I could vividly recall how I said the same thing to my Mom when I was a little girl.

Somehow the promise of buying my Mom a big house hasn’t materialized. I don’t know whether she has ever felt proud of me. But the moment I put my first born into her arms the very first time, I think I have never made her so happy before.

The happiest time together

The other day I saw in facebook an interesting question raised by my friend’s young son,

“Do you know when is the happiest time we shared together?”

I thought this was a tricky question and directed it to my 9-year-old. To my surprise, she answered without even thinking.

“That was when both of us were backpacking in Penang last year.”

Really? I was trying to create a “self-imposed environment of scarcity” (according to The Millionaire Next Door) for an 8-year-old. She was given a minimum allowance for the whole trip. She packed and carried her belongings on her back. There was once we lost our way and had to walk in the streets for an hour under the rain …

“Mommy, you are very busy and there are always other people around. The trip was fun because we could do everything together. I like to eat, sleep, shop and go places with you, with just the two of us.”

I quickly turned my head away so she wouldn’t see tears swelling up in my eyes.

Tonight we were standing in front of a Christmas decoration – Jesus Christ was born in a stable, wrapped in a cloth and placed in a manger. The holy infant was surrounded by his parents and a few sheep and horses. It was such a calm scene.

How many people can see the fact that a blissful family is not determined by what your home is, but who are at home?

This article was first published at www.propertysoul.com.

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