It goes without saying that a reliable support system is the pivot around which a family revolves. And this much more critical when you have young children and/or both parents pursuing careers.
Reading the Building Blocks feature on Support Systems in the latest issue of ParentEdge took me back to the time when we had to organize for high quality support for our then eight month old son. Back then, I had decided to take a break from work, but as things turned out, I got a call from my employer saying there was this assignment where they absolutely needed me. And so we began our search.
The option of extended family was not available as we did not have any close relatives or grandparents in Bangalore. We did not think too long before deciding on a day care though, mind you, twenty years ago, day cares were scarce. But, for us, the comfort of a systematic set up was very high, and so we literally scoured the length and breadth of Bangalore before finding a good one. Since then, both our children spent their formative years at day cares.
Today, my son is 20 plus and my daughter is 16 plus. If I look back, I think putting them in a day care is one of the best decisions we have taken and here is why:
Fosters independence and self-sufficiency: A good day care, in my view, provides the right level of emotional support, without encouraging indulgence and giving in to children’s tantrums. We took a lot of trouble to find the day care that our kids went to, and I would share credit with Meena Sivaraman ( who now runs the Bright Vistas chain of day cares in Bangalore) for making our kids independent and self-sufficient.
Makes children well-adjusted and well-rounded: Since children grow up amidst other kids of their age-group, they become better-adjusted, develop social skills, learn to share, and pick up new skills through observation and interaction. My son was quite introverted as a child, and I think the environment in the day care helped him a great deal to make friends. My daughter on the other hand picked up languages really quickly, simply because of hearing them being spoken around her.
Provides a more stimulating environment: Compared to a nanny at home, the day care often provides a much more stimulating environment for children. Meena did not then call it a pre-school formally, but she had a lot of learning activities for young children. In fact, she would constantly give me feedback about my children’s aptitudes and encourage me to do something about it.
Helps children gain better perspective: Both my kids have had a very healthy attitude towards my working, though this meant I had to spend less time with them, compared to say, some of their friends whose mothers stayed at home. While I of course took the concept of “quality time” very seriously I(!!) and my husband was very supportive, I also think the day care helped instill in them the right attitude towards a working mother. I have heard anecdotes of children resenting the fact that their mothers work, with the feeling being reinforced by grandparents who may be looking after them. My kids in fact have never been resentful. Yes, they have missed me when I had to travel sometimes, or if I came back late from work occasionally. In fact, I still remember how proud I felt when my neighbor once told me that my daughter, who was then about 7 or 8 years old, told them that she wanted to grow up and become a business woman, like me (I had just then started working on my own)!
Needless to say, you do need to do a thorough evaluation to figure out a good daycare for your child and family. That said, the concept has really caught on and there are many more options available today. So, if you are hassled because of lack of good support, do check out the day cares in your neighborhood. You might just be surprised at the possibilities.
Also Read : Raising Confident Kids