Support systems are essential not only for working parents but also for most young parents, especially for nuclear families managing a hectic lifestyle. An extra pair of hands can free up time for you to pursue a hobby or interest or just to give you some much needed ‘me-time’. Also, being with adults other than the parents can benefit the child greatly, as it widens her exposure and also gives her a chance to pick up a variety of skills.
Hired help Nannies or ayahs – in a country where domestic help is available in plenty, finding a child- friendly, experienced woman to care for your child at home is easier than in many western countries. This arrangement will particularly suit children who are prone to certain health conditions – when it is not advisable to expose them to larger groups. Some infants and toddlers may be more comfortable in a familiar environment. It would be easier on you too as you do not have the added task of getting the child ready in the mornings and picking her up on time from day care.
You may, however, need to set the ground rules (and perhaps provide training) to enforce discipline, hygiene, eating habits and the use of appropriate language. It may also be a good idea to make unscheduled visits to your home, once or twice a week, until you establish trust. Though the hired help may not be adept at stimulating the child in a scientific way, she may have other unique things to teach the child.
“My little one is hyperactive and very difficult to handle. My parents are senior citizens and are not well-equipped to handle my child. Whether it is eating habits, behaviour or bed time routines, my help is very competent and patient with my child. Perhaps because child care is her primary responsibility.”
As a parent, meeting the physical, emotional and intellectual needs of a young child, while managing your own work and interests, can make a lot ofdemands on your time. While you may enjoy doing all these things, try oiling the wheels of your daily life with a good support system – the ride can get so much smoother!
Choosing a nanny – look for:
- Background and experience with children
- References – how long she has worked with each family, the reasons for moving
- Positive attitude and behaviour towards children
- Ability to accommodate your needs – commute time from her home, commitments back home etc.
Chandrika Shridhar, a chartered accountant in Mumbai found an experienced nanny for her (then three-year-old) son at Kolkata. They bonded very well and are in touch with each other, seven years and a move from the city later. “Omkar had a grandmotherly figure in his life and she was very competent. She understood all ofhis needs, read Bengali poems and stories to him, and even taught him the language,” reminisces Chandrika.