Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Working Parents' Dilemma - Who to Leave The Little One with?

When I quit my full time job, over four year ago, everyone had some advice for me. No, no baby was on the cards then and I had done it simply because I felt it was time to test new waters and tread forbidden paths. Of course, none of that was possible without the support of my husband, who stood by my decision.

Meanwhile, I completed another Post Graduation course and started a little venture in writing. At any given day, I was working at least 10-12 hours. Work flourished and time flew. Almost 2 years later, we were blessed with Prabir. However, I continued working. I have changed gears since and started another retail venture too. Yet, my primary responsibility is my son, with whom I stay 24x7.

While, I have the luxury to stay at home, look after my son and work as well, many others do not. After a stipulated maternity break, most have to join back work. You are ridden with fear, guilt and may be remorse. Yet, quitting your job may not be an option for various reasons.

To say that working mothers are not involved with their children completely would be unfair. I have seen mothers, and fathers, keeping a check on their children while at work. They ensure their children eat and sleep on time and even take leaves to be with them during exams etc.

With nuclear families on the rise, the most worrisome issue that remains is who to leave the child with, when you have to join back. A friend had asked me to venture on this topic a couple of months back. And after a lot of reading and discussions with friends in different situations, here is what I could come up with.

The options are immense:

  • With either grandparent(s)
  • At home, with a full time maid/nanny
  • Enrol in a creche or daycare
Each one comes with their pros and cons.

  • With grandparents
  1. Your child is in loving and caring hands.
  2. You can be rest assured they are fed well and a routine is followed.
  3. This also ensures a lot of quality time as children learn from their grandparents.
  4. It is financially beneficial too.
  1. Generation gap 
  2. Difference in parenting styles may lead to stress and conflict.
  3. Over-caring attitude may lead to discipline issues later.
  4. The child may be plonked in front of the TV, longer that you'd like.
  5. They may not have the energy and stamina to take care of a growing toddler.
What you can do:
  1. Have an open discussion before you embark on this arrangement on what is okay. Sleep schedule, food menu etc can be given in written so that there's no confusion.
  2. Grandparents love pampering and feeding little ones. However, occasional treats is different from giving candies or a piece of cake during lunch time.
  3. Most importantly, respect each other. Instead of telling them what not to do, you can always tell them how to do it differently. 
  4. Let the grandparent take care of the child while you're home so that they get a fair idea about the routine of the baby.
  5. Call often to check how things are. That gives you an idea how much the baby and the grandparent are able to cope with. You can even then think of hiring a part timer to help, without really offending the grandparents. Taking care of a baby is an exhausting job!
  6. Be flexible and take it easy. You might feel bad when the grandparent knows exactly what to do to soothe your little one when they throw a tantrum at dinner time or bed time. But then, that's because they are spending more waking hours with the baby.
  7. Have a consistent set of rules that everyone follows. This way, the child will not get confused either.
  • At home, with a full time maid or nanny
  1. Your child stays in the comfort of home.
  2. You are able to monitor their meals.
  3. There's more sense of control
  1. You may be left in the lurch if and when the nanny calls in sick or takes leave.
  2. They are usually not educated. They could know the basics of child care, but may be adamant on following practices that may be harmful for the baby.
  3. Supervision may be difficult, despite installing nanny cameras.
What you can do:
  1. Hire a nanny with very strong reference credentials.
  2. Try and work out some arrangement where a family member is home with the child and nanny.
  3. Do a very strong background check.
  4. Train the nanny for at least a month under your supervision.
  • A creche or daycare
  1. These are regulated and a bit more accountable.
  2. You can monitor activities through CCTV cameras now.
  3. The caregivers are usually educated and trained.
  4. Children get to socialize with other kids.
  1. Divided attention as there are more children to take care of.
  2. It is difficult to find day cares that would take infants as little as 6 months old.
  3. Children tend to get sick often in a daycare.
  4. The pick and drop timings can be pretty rigid.
What you can do:
  1. Look for a facility closer to your home or workplace, whichever is more feasible.
  2. Check the safety standards before finalizing. The place should be child friendly. You must also want to have a detailed discussion about meals, milk, naps, toilet training, screen time, play time, medical emergency etc.
  3. Again, look for a reputed place, based on feedback from friends/peers/colleagues who are or have taken their services.
Caring for a child is an exhaustive job. I know as I have been at it for a little over 2.5 years with not a single day leave as yet. Yet, I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to spend all my time with my little one.

Leaving your little one in another person's care is a difficult decision to take, and unavoidable to. But, if we consider our situation with the pros and cons, we will be better equipped to take the most suitable decision that will work for both the baby and the parents.

Hope, I have been able to help a bit here :)

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