Having a family member take care of your child is the “original” childcare, especially in India! In earlier times, when our parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents used to live in one big joint family, it went without saying that all children were cared for, whether their parents were near or not. That is, however, not the case now. Most of us live in nuclear families. At best, we have one set of parents living with us. And what is more, most dads and moms are forced to return to office work a little while after the baby is born. There are many options available to take care of your child though – daycare, nanny, or getting a family member (e.g. a grandparent, an uncle or aunt who lives in the house or nearby). We explore the last option in this write-up, especially in terms of its pros and cons.
What Are The Advantages Of Letting A Family Member Take Care Of Your Child?
Let’s talk the upsides first:
- They are affordable: Considering the amount one needs to shell out for a good daycare, a relative caring for your child would mean that you save INR 5,000-10,000 per month. Some relatives may even refuse any payment, but on the whole, it is pretty likely that you will still save quite a wad of money on childcare
- They are trustworthy: Considering how difficult it is to find a nanny who can be trusted enough to leave your child alone with, relatives are God-sent in terms of trust worthiness. Trust factor seems to play a major role in childcare decisions
- They are accountable: Your relative will always remain your relative. There is no “leaving one job for another”. And for this reason, they know that they are accountable for your child’s well-being
- They might share your views on parenting: Most likely, if you were all raised in a similar fashion, your relative and you will have similar views on nutrition, screen-time, sleep routines and disciplining. This means that your child does not feel a disconnect when you take care of him and when the relative takes care of him
- They are familiar: This one is a big plus for your child. If your relative is staying with you, the child is seeing them day in and day out and their face and ways are familiar. Further, the babies remain in your home, another familiar place. This makes them feel secure and calm
- They give exclusive attention: Unlike a day care, a relative will give your child a lot of one-on-one attention. So there is no way that your child will be left crying for attention
- They are reliable: They do not disappear from work without notice. Since it is a relative you will know what is happening in their lives and can plan for an alternative in advance if they are expected to be unavailable in future
- They will take care of your child, sick or not: For starters, a child raised at home does not catch as many infections as the ones going to daycare. Secondly, most daycares discourage parents sending their kids to the facility when sick. Your relative, on the contrary, would be happy to take of the child even if the child is sick, especially if the child is sick!
What Are The Challenges Of Letting A Family Member Take Care Of Your Child?
- It is difficult to set ground rules: Unlike with a nanny, you cannot give your relative “strict” instructions on anything. Your relative might also find the discussion offensive as well
- They might have a different parenting style: This is especially true if it is a parent or parent-in-law looking after the child. They come with lot of knowledge and experience, many of which might be in contradiction to what internet or doctors tell you. While you can definitely set expectations, you might always end up worried if they are being followed in your absence. And you cannot exactly “question” the relative
- It leads to indebtedness and obligation: Offering to take care of your child is a great help. And sometimes, it is an unpaid one. If your relative refuses to take a pay for caring for your child, you may find it harder to say how you want your child to be cared for. So you will feel obligated to this relative, which can be tricky
- They are not exactly “trained”: Sure, they know how to take care of your child well. But would they nurture them too? Most day care professionals are trained to help in your child’s social, physical and cognitive development. They are engaged in a lot of activities like sports, arts and crafts and songs. Your relative might not be able to provide these at home
- They might not have the stamina: As the baby grows, starts walking, and then running, and then climbing stuff (!!!), remember that your relative might be older and might not have the stamina to run behind your child all day. Although not always, this lack of stamina can often lead to relatives engaging the kids in front of TV more
- They might not be able to take care of more than one child: Unlike nannies or daycares who are more than happy to welcome your second child for the extra money, the relative might be reluctant, mainly because of the time and effort needed to raise 2 kids.
- The child might miss out on socializing: One of the biggest boon of daycares is the interaction a child has with his peers. That might be lacking if the child stays home
Just like there are pros and cons for letting a relative take care of your child, there are pros and cons for both daycares and employing nannies. Please read Should I Choose A Maid Or A Creche? for more.