Not sure if I mentioned it, but we have been wanting to take Hannah out of her kindergarten and enter her into a hoikuen/daycare.
To enter a kindergarten here (usually ages 3-5 but from age 2 in Hannah’s place), there is no requirement income-wise. However, should you want your child to attend hoikuen (public or private from 3 months old until age 5), both parents have to be working, with one working full-time and one working a minimum of four days a week, for four hours each day.
As Luka is still very little, I don’t really want to have to work that much. He needs his Mummy around, and I don’t want to miss at least the first years. Plus, we have enough to live comfortably enough, but nothing left over to save, to pay a mortgage, or to be extravagant even once in a while. I suppose there is the cost of me and the children flying home once a year that could be saved, but I have decided that that is a necessary expense. For my sanity, for my family in the U.K., and for the children (language/culture/family-wise!). So for now, me working is the only way to get around this. It’s a bit of a crazy situation though. Kind of forcing mothers out to work for more hours than they would usually want to. I don’t even think I could keep up with housework, that much work, and child-raising right now. I suppose that skill will have to come sooner or later! I never really imagined that I would be able to cope with one child, let alone two, but here I am..coping 🙂
I have met other mothers in the park who have said that their children are going to hoikuen. I said that I would like that, but that I don’t really want to work the required hours. Most of them confess to me that they don’t really work at all, but their in-laws or their own parents claim they are employing them in their own businesses (usually farming or some other small businesses around here). I was pretty shocked to hear that at first, and thought it a little unfair to the mothers who really were working enough. Now however, I totally understand why they do it.
Kindergarten isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, but it requires a hell of a lot of P.T.A. involvement. Of course P.T.A. membership is supposedly voluntary, but it is more than “expected”. It seems to me, that kindergarten is used as a social outlet for mothers. I can understand that, but it’s not really what I want. There is also a lot of teaching that goes on, seems to be quite strict at times (at least in my experience). The hours are from 9-2, so even if you wanted to work, it would be quite hard.
So back to the yay part of the story. I tentatively asked my previous employer, who is trying to find work for me, if he would fill out a form to say that I will work for him in April, when the new school-term begins. I wasn’t sure whether he was aware of the minimum number of hours requirement, so was a bit nervous when I went to see him this morning, thinking he could just turn around and refuse to sign it. So he sat down and looked at the forms, which had lots of boxes where the employer has to write the number of hours per week, and the days of the week you will be employed for.
He put his mark on it, and said, “You can fill out the rest. Write anything you like.” YAHOOOOOOOOOO!! Elation! What is it with the law?!?! I was worried a bit that it could get him into trouble, but have found out that apparently, the hoikuen and tax, etc. have no connection, so it’s impossible to get found out. Got to love bending the rules!
So it means that when he gets me a job (hopefully 4-6 hours a week), If I want to, I can enter Luka into the hoikuen too for a couple of days a week. At that time he will be 18 months old, which is about the same age that Hannah was when she went to hoikuen for four months while I was pregnant (yes, that is an exception apparently) and she loved it. So it’s been a really great day 🙂
Now to check out and apply for hoikuens and hope that we get into one of the ones we like!