Why both parents should work part-time?
Working and having a family life in the Netherlands at the same time, has more challenges compared to living single or lives without children. That’s why it is important that at least one of the parents should work part-time. Similar to Scandinavian countries, the Dutch prides themselves on being independent. For example, by raising their children by themselves. This way of life has been different from Philippines, a country where I come from. Similar to other Asian countries, the connections and supports in the Philippines extend up to extended family members such as cousins, uncles and aunties, and other relatives. This social relationship system could be both beneficial and not for parents. On one hand, it is great to have this social relationship system since the absence of government subsidy for childcare does not hamper both parents to continue working while keeping their family lives based on the enormous amount of family based social supports they receive. On the other hand, both parents could have different ways of raising their children compared to those who extend their support.
Here in the Netherlands, despite the lack of a family based social support system, it is still possible for expats and their partner to successfully achieve work-life balance, while raising their children in ways they believe are best for them. The key to achieve work-life balance is for both parents to work part-time or not in full week, while still being involved in raising their kids. To be effective in efficient at work despite the challenge of having a family, see my post about Achieve work-life balance by embracing Dutch work habits. A situation were both parents work part-time is definitely more advantageous compared to a single parent working full time. Below I’ll highlight the advantages of both parents working part-time.
Advantages for both parents working part-time
1. Both part-time working parents receive more tax benefits as compared to single full-time working parent.
According to NLtimes, parents earn more tax benefits (or pay less tax) when they are both working than when one of the parents is working full time (equivalent to five days or 40 hours a week). For example, in 2017, two income households with children and a joint income of 50,000 euros a year pay 22% tax, while a single household income with children at the same income level pay 29% tax.
2. Both parents working part-time have work-life balance.
Either working or taking care of children full-time is not good for achieving work-life balance. Working entirely could lead to stress and burn-out while being a full-time parent could lead to less social interaction. By having both worlds, there is more variation in parent’s life. In the Netherlands, work and family at the same time is possible since most parents do not work the full week. Working few (three or four) days a week allow both parents to spend quality time with their children and thus enable them to achieve work-life balance.
3. Part-time parents contribute to balance development of the kids
Not only the parents achieve balance when working few days in a week, but also the children. In my blog Raising a happy and balanced child the Dutch way, I highlighted the importance of the involvement of both the mother and father in raising their children a balanced and happy way. The key is to have at least a mother and/or father’s day in a weekday. This will only be possible if parents do not work the full week. In addition, from the point of view of the kids, going on crèche (day care) or guest parents two to three days a week is good for their development and for their social skills in order to learn to adjust to their environment. However, having four or five days a week of child care will practically mean that the parents are becoming the “second” instead of the main parents of the child. Thus, children are able to maximize their social and physical development by having a balance between being raised protectively by their parents and being exposed to the more outwards going environment such as a crèche.
4. The costs of child care is high.
As you work extra day per week, you have to bring your child to a childcare (crèche, opvang or guest parents). This means you have to pay extra costs for the day in order to earn one day extra in your work. However, upon earning more, the subsidy for childcare provided by the government is decreased, therefore working too much hours hardly earns you extra money (Iamexpat.nl). And of course, not to forget you spend less quality time with your children.
5. Both parents working reduces risks.
Having two main earners greatly reduces the risks of having no income. If one of the parents loses his/her job, the other can start working more to provide income for the family.