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Working at daycare and getting discount tuition

Japan With Kids - Forums: Day Care in Japan: Working at daycare and getting discount tuition
By Cosmic on Monday, January 14, 2008 - 9:26 am:

My husband is Japanese, and he wants to move back to Japan. We are planning on having a child, and I would like to work while I'm in Japan. I have lived there before and speak Japanese fluently. I also have a BA in Japanese studies, a TESL certificate and 6 years teaching experience. Is it possible to work at a daycare and also have my child attend the daycare with a discounted tuition, as well as my receive usual wages?

By Sandy on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - 6:17 pm:

Japanese publioc daycare requires a training certificate for hobo-san (child-minder), and since they are employed by governments, foreigners are automatically excluded. A lot of the child-minders also belong to a union, pay union fees and have to attend union meetings. Private daycares is a growth industry, and may be less strict and have more hiring freedom, but in general some training is also required (this would be Japanese training and Japanese certification).

If you were to apply for a teaching job in an international pre-school there would be some sort of requirements too. But they vary a lot depending on how easily the school can find staff. Also there would be different positions such as "teacher" and "teaching assistant". Most international pre-schools would probably work out an arrangement regarding tuition, particularly if your child is a native English speaker needed to get the numbers right for native/non-native ratio. There are lots of smaller pre-schools in the greater Tokyo area that could fit your needs. I also think there are a lot of semi-international pre-schools (in in Tokyo and other prefectures) that would work. (They use the words "international" and "school" in their name, but do not fit the stricter definitions of "international school". Nevertheless, they are a much needed option for some families.) Also the hours are much shorter than the daycare system hours.

In any case, daycare/pre-school choices are on the increase. If you are working, daycare is becoming increasingly available, compared to 1996-2002. The ceiling price seems to be around Y80,000 per month for an infant. (Public daycare costs are calculated based on ability to pay.) The first few months are very tricky, because there are far fewer spots available for babies under 4 months old. Even if you ended up working elsewhere from where your child is enrolled in daycare, the price is somewhat more affordable than, for example, in major cities in North America (where the charge for infants is often from $1000-1400 per month). If your husband supports your working, then it is definitely possible.

There are other concerns. Do you have your husband's support to keep working? This is very important if the in-laws are against it. Nothing destroys an international marriage faster than an aggressivily negative mother-in-law and a new baby together in the same equation. In Japan (and China, and all the Asian countries), baby-sitting by strangers (anyone who is not family) is more or less imnpossible. Parents-in-law will usually put extreme pressure on a new mother to take care of her child herself or with their help, rather than have other people involved. Of course if they are very old, live very far away, or have no support from their own child (the other parent of the grandchild) they can not exert the same pressure. (Obviously, if you are living as an expat in Japan, then you are not bound by these cultural rules, and can hire nannies, baby-sitters, etc as you please.)

Sorry for bringing it up, but the way you wrote "he wants to move back to Japan" instead of "we want to move back to Japan, hints slightly at other issues, that could easily cause trouble down the road. BUT on the plus side Japan is a very safe place to raise a child, and there are many advantages. For example, no Japanese will ever bat an eye if you tell them that your baby sleeps with you (up to about age 7 or so), since this is normal in Japanese parenting. Japanese are very tolerant of kids under 6 throwing fits, making a mess, etc. Children are still allowed a fair bit of freedom of movement from about age 6 without interference of neighbors and police (for example, being allowed to walk 4 blocks up the road to a friend's house or ride a bicycle without a parent in tow).

A possible stress factor for the foreign parent, if from North America, is space, or rather lack of it, in typical Japanese housing, particularly in big cities. But THE complaint that I hear more than any other, is how much the Japanese working spouse is absent from home. If one is used to one's spouse coming home at a reasonable hour, then the Japanese company's demand on the employee's time can be devastating to a marriage. The great majority of Japanese salary men come home LATE, as late as 11pm, on a regular basis. Some women don't mind. Some do, especially when they expected the spouse to take Baby off their hands for 30 minutes or an hour so that they can do stuff like take a shower, cook food, eat the food, etc.

Try to discuss the expectations ahead of time. It's almost impossible, since very few realize how much work a baby is until one actually has a baby (and some babies are more work than others). But one might be able to get a sense of how much effort the other parent is willing to make. Even with daycare until 6pm, working and caring for a baby, is hard, with lots of juggling involved. It's at least 3 years before things get noticeably easier, or at least different. This is not written to discourage plans for a child, but be careful how much help/support to expect from the Japanese male! Only a few are very helpful. Plus, they often avoid confrontation with their mothers, which means that unless the mother-in-law is a nice person, who genuinely likes and respects her daughter-in-law, strategies to avoid disaster are advisable.

By Bunny on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - 10:52 pm:

I agree 100% with sandy. Well said.

international pre-schools will probably hire you, but that depends on where you live, they can't keep good staff for some reason. But make sure it's one you can get to easily. There's no point living in chiba and working in Tokyo, too much pain, not enough gain.

Lovecraftian in-laws.

The solution to in-laws is to live NOWHERE NEAR THEM, not even in the same prefecture. Visit them once a year or less, say yes to whatever and ignore it totally. Beware the elder-thing, it's goals are not your goals.

She forgot all the fun things like smoking, smokers, the fact that most salarimen are mannerless baboons with serious dandruff, screaming psychotic kyoikumama's, the level of bitching at nurseries, the cyclopathic mums, the foreign mums with their screaming monsters they don't know how to control, etc.

But I'm sure you can learn all that by trial and error.

Good luck. That which does not break you, makes you stronger. ^_^!

By Lenemaia on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 9:36 am:

I also agree with Sandy!
There is one more thing you need to consider, tho you might not want to... The Japanese family law!

This may become a problem if you some day decide to get a divorce. The custody of any child/ren will go to the Japanese spouse. If the spouse is male, then it is expected that his extended family will care for your child. That would likely be your mother-in-law or sister-in-law.

and this webpage (shroll down to middle of page);

You need to consider this part, before moving to Japan - as well as all the other things written here...

Good luck.

By Cosmic on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 10:18 am:

Thanks for the response. Wow. As I read this I am completely overwhelmed with anxiety. All of you have confirmed my fears.

By Bunny on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 10:43 am:

Oh dear, that was never the intention to put the frighteners on.

There are some plus sides to being here. If you have half-kids, you can usually get a good dose of "aa kawaii!" from pretty much anyone. If they happen to have hello kitty kimonos on in Oshogatsu, you can get way more than your fair share of adoration!

The whole safety at night, being able to go out to the convenience store at 2am, walk along darkened streets without worrying about being mugged, etc. (Though there are lots of signs about bag snatchers, I have yet to hear anything happen in our neighborhood.)

Convenience stores, not having to drive at all, trains that run on time. Schools within easy walking distance (and free, well your tax pays them.)

If you're an ex-pat, there's always Roppongi, which I detest, but you may like.

If you live to shop, Ginza is just a few stops away. Tokyo Midtown (roppongi north), Nishi-Azabu if you have more money than sense, you need a whole new currency there!

There's also plenty of culture if you go looking for it, little old shops that sell hand made combs that have been there since before the US of A was invented. You turn a corner and there's a little old coffee shop so old it predates *$, or some ward museum with an exhibition about Natsume Souseki.

If you like to write and can find him, OHASHIDO hand made fountain pens. I paid way more for his pen than I ever wanted to. I haven't a single regret either.

All these little jewels make it an interesting place to live in. If you last 5 years, you'll probably stay.

It's not all bad, don't let paranoia and anxiety take control.

By Hoshi on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 10:46 am:

Cosmic, I've been following this thread as it is automatically sent to my e-mail address and I just wanted to say I hate the way people have been so negative and caused you added stress. It is one thing to be aware, it is another to scare the living daylights out of someone.
For a more balanced view I thought you might like to join MIJ (Married in Japan) which is a yahoo group for foreign woman with Japanese husbands (either in Japan or overseas). There are over 800 members and the wealth of information and support is extensive.
I for one have wonderful in-laws who love me to bits (despite me often wondering why, LOL) and although truthfully I would prefer to live in my home country, this is our home for now and I certainly plan on making the most out of it. I have 2 small children and am a stay at home mum. My DH doesn't work until 11:00pm. He used to come home around 8:00pm, but since the birth of our second child he tries to be home by 7:00pm. It seems to me some of the people who responded to you have had really bad experiences but there are lots of positive foreign wives here, too. I Hope you'll check 'MIJ' out.

By Lindagondo on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 12:09 pm:

I have to say that I disagree with Hoshi`s criticism of this thread so far. The comments here are a good indication of what life is life for many spouses living in Japan, especially Tokyo. When my daughter went to yochien, out of the twenty mothers that I knew, NONE had a spouse who came home before 8pm, and most came home after 9pm. One lady`s husband worked every day of the week (he was self emplolyed) with no holiday (although that that is very unusual). My brother-in-law often works until midnight, and has to get up again at 7am. My husband gets home about 9pm and with no weekend work or obligations, in comparison I feel lucky. This is how it is here!! Perhaps in the countryside it is different, but in Tokyo it is unusual for one`s spouse to be home at 7pm.

As for in-laws, mine have been great, and have helped us babysit our daughter whenever we want to go out, however I have friends whose in-laws have made their lives miserable. I must agree, tread with caution at first.

As for divorce and losing custody, well that DOES happen, and although it`s a very worst case scenario I think it still needs careful consideration.

Also in Japan there is still some stigma attached to men helping with childrearing. It`s not so much of an issue with the current childbearing yonger generation, but probably your husband`s parents may have very set ideas about what your husband should or shouldn`t have to do in terms of looking after children. I remember my father-in-law (who is normally a great guy and who I love dearly) sincerely telling me that he thought it would be better if my husband didn`t change my daughter`s nappy because that was `a woman`s job`. I think he really thought he was doing me a favor by trying to educate me!! Thankfully my husband just ignored his advice and was great with his time and energy looking after her if I needed a break.

Yes there are many positives to living here as some people have previously pointed out, but to give a truly balanced view, which is what I think Cosmic was seeking, then negatives have to be articulated also.

By Abinitio on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 12:21 pm:

Yes, Cosmic, I would like to ditto Hoshi's response. I've been living here for nearly 20 years and have never read such biased opinions on this board before. Please don't let it deter you from living in one of the most interesting places in the world. My Japanese husband has always been equal to the effort with our kids and home and is a good father and man. My in-laws are wonderful also. I recognize that not all women have had this kind of experience with their husbands but I think this is a universal issue that has a lot more to do with the dynamics of the relationship rather than a specific culture. The 'fun' things mentioned are actually things that happen in all countries and are hardly 'fun' for anyone when they are happening. Talk out all the worries with your husband and make tentative plans for all possibilities, come with an 'open' mind and you will be just fine.

By Lenemaia on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 12:42 pm:

You have lived in Japan before and speak the language fluently. That gives you a big advantage... Your husband has lived abroad and know the feeling of being a foreigner. That gives you another big advantage. You have BA in Japanese studies. Somehow I don't think you are all "green" when it comes to Japan and the culture.
But I still think you need to know the facts and just reading what people say in here will give you many hints to what life is like with a Japanese man living in Japan and having a Japanese family.
Can you get along with his mother and the rest of his family? If so, then you may not have that many worries about moving here. But yes I agree with Lindagondo; Tread with caution at first. When that is said, I think a lot of how life will be like for YOU depends on your husbands attitude and how close you are.

By Kit on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 3:15 pm:

Hey there Cosmic.

I am so interested in this thread and where the spool has rolled. It seemed to me that you were simply asking if you theoretically could work at a daycare and simulataneously have a child attend the same daycare at a discount. Sandy has given you a lot of good info to help with this question. I know that some schools do discourage instructors/workers/caregivers from placing their children in the same class that they intend to teach or mind--the reasoning is obvious, of course. However, with the experience you mention, and if your teaching experience is at the appropriate level, it should be fairly easy to land an international pre-school teaching position that would pay well enough for you to have your pick of private daycare options. There are other threads on this site that can guide you through the intricasies of public daycare, if that were your choice, and since you don't have children yet, you'd have ample time to set it up either way.

It is telling, though, that this thread has gone into different discussions. Culturally, many Japanese still feel the ideal is a stay-at-home mom, a view often fiercely defended by moms themselves, and exploited by businesses that tend to behave as if they "own" their male employees. You will surely encounter some sense of that here, if you are not already familiar with it. Nonetheless, the norm has seen a significant shift in the past decade, and my sense is that working mothers are more accepted, more apt to receive encouragement and respect, than they used to be. I have two friends who at first viewed my choices askance, but since have ventured out into jobs of their own--it's very tempting to some mothers, some are even envious, and threatening to others, just as it is in the states. Additionally (thanks to very low birthrates here), some companies are beginning to bow to family-friendly demands for time off. I'm not saying it's across the board, but there is movement in the right direction.

I'm definitely on the positive/lucky/very happy side of this discussion. To some degree, fluency in Japanese, a lot of solid and rewarding work experience, and exceedingly supportive in-laws has smoothed my experience of being a working mom in Japan, with a Japanese husband.

What I find key, though, echoes the opinions expressed by Abinitio and Lenemaia: one's relationship with one's husband is key. Were I in your position, I suppose I might ask my husband if he thought he could handle a non-conformist position and if he would be willing to create a path with you that might perplex his family and co-workers? And you'll need to assess your own flexibility just as carefully. My husband comes home closer to midnight than 7 pm most evenings. I had to find a way to adjust to that, and he had to find a way to adjust diapers and cook a lot. We really both try to remain open-minded and make our decisions not so much based on entrenched cultural ideas of what is "right"--understanding that we both have these kinds of set ideas that are very resistent to revision--but on what works for us within the constraints of the outside circumstances that we can't readily, immediately change.

It's not all roses and Hello Kitties of joy, but as a city, Tokyo (still) offers pretty much unparalleled safety for an urban hub, enormous depth of cultural history, superb food, highly educated people, relatively mild weather, manic architectural ingenuity intersperced with cool parks--I think it's a good place to live and raise kids. My two cents.

By Athena on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 3:28 pm:

Good that the last few posts are on the positive side! Wherever you are from, it will be different from here. Every place has it's ups and downs and we have to remember that. It is easy to live somewhere for a long time and forget how it is at "home". A rosier picture of home often blurs out the negative points when you are away for a long time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that!

I wish you the best of luck. I live in Gunma (quite rural) and miss the Tokyo life. There are lots of facilities for foreigners, and racial hate is very rare (in my experience!). I'm sure you will make a happy home there!

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