Asia’s Food Vendors: A Plus for Work-Family Balance
Travel Blog • Julia Ross • 05.28.09 | 1:38 PM ET
I’m not a parent, but I’ve sympathized with two sisters and plenty of friends who bemoan the constant time stresses on working parents with young kids. Grocery shopping and cooking rank high among parental time-sucks, of course, so a Thai curator’s recent comment to the New York Times that Bangkok’s ubiquitous food carts “provide a vital support system to people who work, especially couples with children” got me wondering about the benefits of raising kids in Asia.
I’ve often thought that the Scandinavian countries, with their generous maternity/paternity leave and subsidized child care policies, would be an ideal place to have a family. Indeed, they consistently lead the pack in surveys of child well-being.
But the glorious street markets in countries like Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam surely should be factored into what makes a healthy work-family balance. Year-round availability of cheap, fresh, nutritious meals—all right around the corner—goes a long way toward saving time for homework and assuaging parental guilt.
For expats raising kids abroad, there are plenty of factors to consider, from child care costs to educational opportunities, and I suppose what constitutes balance for one family might not work for the next. All I know is, after a long day of teaching high school, my sister would love the opportunity to pick up some freshly grilled fish, a bowl of noodles, or a few skewers of chicken satay on her way home every night, for a lot less than it would cost to cook for a family of four.
Getting my 7-year-old niece to try a hot-and-sour Tom Yum Goong, however, is another story.