Day care, nanny or grandparents? - A working mother's perfect decision making guide for her child's caregiver
Every mother knows that she needs to expand her support system once she has her bundle of joy in her lap. However, for a working mother, life may take a completely different direction if the support system is not robust, secure and reliable. If you resolve to continue being a working mother, it is advisable that you plan your childcare arrangement in your absence well-in-advance.
Being a second generation working mother, I have come across several allegations on how the mother is irresponsible and has left the child at the mercy of someone else, and how the child needs only the mother around in his/her first year for complete development. Well, breathe deep and think! If you really are yearning for some exclusive time with your child, enjoy the pleasure of your child's company with no regrets thereafter…. But if you are quitting at the peak of your career just because you are a mother, think again! All it takes to manage both, is a well-thought out, dependable support system. It is only important that you make well-informed decisions.
In Indian society, there are largely three options available. Here are my findings based on experiences across two generations and mom peers, to say the least.
1. Professional Day care
Security/ Safety/ Hygiene: If it is a day care run by a preschool management, safety will never be an issue. Ask for their standard operating processes like how do they drop the child in case parents are not around, see their set up for child proof safety and hygiene features. Some advanced centers also have IP-enabled cameras through which parents can watch their children all day.
Flexibility of time: This is the only handicap for some mothers. The maximum band you can get in any daycare centre is 8:30 am – 7:30 pm, that too is on the higher side. Unless you know the owner personally and negotiate an alternate arrangement. For women who travel far for work, timing often becomes a cause of concern
Development of child: In this regard, day care centres have the highest advantage:
1. Space – usually the child will have more space than at home to cruise around, touch things and enjoy without hearing too many 'No'es.
2. Company of other children is a big boon – social skills develop, sharing habits foster and most importantly they learn to eat without fuss
3. Few centers nowadays organize rhyme time, music and movement, park visits etc
4. Some also offer Pick up/drop facility to activity classes in the vicinity
Personal attention to child: "This may be a little low at daycare centres, but the child learns to express better in such circumstances – to ask for what he needs, to seek attention when required etc. However, professional daycare centres are pretty particular about individual needs like toilet training, medicine timings and others.
Some also appoint photographers to record your child's growing up moments (that you might miss otherwise) and share them with you."
Cost: INR 5000 – onwards depending on the setup. It may be lesser for a home based daycare center as compared to that in a branded playschool. (Also varies depending on whether they offers meals/ snacks and whether you opt for them)
2. Stay-at- home Nanny/ Maid
Security/ Safety/ Hygiene: You might be tempted to think that this is safe but well, one adult with one child at home is never safe. Even if the nanny is away for a bio break or to attend a doorbell, an accident is potential.
Flexibility of time: Time is not an issue with a stay-at-home full time nanny, of course, assuming the nanny is reliable enough.
Development of child: This is one area where nanny/maid clearly lacks, given that they are not educated. They can only do limited things with the child, that too, if she takes interest. Also, their linguistic proficiency is not satisfactory in some cases.
Personal attention to child: The child may get attention from the nanny but only from food/sleep/safety point of view. From the child's mental development point of view, this attention may not be of great value. Unless the nanny can take him/ her through books etc.. (But such nannies are too far and few)
Cost: Nowadays their rates are fairly high, almost comparable to a day care service. It depends on what responsibilities you assign them. INR 8000 onwards, unless you know someone personally for a long time.
3. Grandparents at home
Security/ Safety/ Hygiene: Safety is the greatest advantage with grandparents. They are often even more concerned than the parents regarding the safety and security of the child.
Flexibility of time: This too is an advantage of having grandparents at home. But children may still yearn to have the parents at home in the evenings and also grandparents deserve some relief from being full-time parents again. (It may be tiring for them too, particularly if the child is in toddler stage)
Development of child: If the grandparents take initiative they can do a lot with infants / toddlers in terms of play, story telling, visit to the park etc. It depends on the family entirely. The mother still needs to give them inputs on how to engage the child. The more important learning from grandparents are family values, cultural aspects etc, which the parents hardly have time for these days.
Personal attention to child: Individual attention may be too much, which may prove to be a disadvantage as the child grows up. Also aspects of discipline, behavior sometimes take a backseat as grandparents are usually overtly affectionate with grandchildren. If the child learns better one-on-one, this option may be a great advantage with them enjoying 100% attention of grandparents. Managing infants may be too much physical work for the grandparents though, depending on how old and fit they are
Cost: LOVE of grandparents is always priceless.
The Most Recommended Option: Leaving the child along with grandparents, while enrolling the child in an early start programme (as early as 1 year 6 months age) for 2 hours, backed by a full time maid at home who can take care of household chores. This way, the management of all needs is efficient – grandparents can fully focus on the child/ children without being stressed about other responsibilities, maid can be trained to do the mundane jobs and run for errands and the child, who's the most precious, can enjoy the love and company of grandparents for some time in his own cocoon and learn in a formal environment as well. As the child grows, the school hours would only increase, so the time spent with grandparents would reduce so early years are when they get the best of each other.
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