The maternity break is over and you are all ready to hit your work space again. But what to do with the baby? If you are one of the lucky few who have parents or parents-in-law staying with you, then it gives you relatively more flexibility to plan your days. But what if you have no support system? Or you have a support system, but the parents are older or busy themselves? Then you need to make a choice – whether to send your child to a creche for the duration of your office hours or keep him at home and hire a nanny/maid to take care of him. Both options no doubt have its own pros and cons. It is important you understand these and make a choice based on your preference, judgment and convenience.
Advantages of Maid Or Nanny Over A Creche
Many mothers swear by the benefits of keeping a maid, which can either be a live-in or a day caretaker nanny. They can leave the kids at home, and can even ask the nannies to do additional work, apart from taking care of the baby. Additionally, the child gets personalized attention and forms a bond with the nanny herself, giving some time off to the mom. Some advantages are:
- Home sweet home: There is no place like home, right? With a maid, your child remains in the comfort and familiarity of your home. This arrangement is less stressful for your baby as he is not forced to familiarize himself with a new environment. Additionally, this reduces the chances of your child picking up infection from other kids in a playschool
- One-on-one attention: Your baby’s nanny’s sole focus will be your child. Your baby gets all the attention he deserves and you can ensure any personalized demands are met at home
- Flexible routine: You can work out better timings with your maid based on your convenience. You can even request her to stay few hours extra occasionally in case you would be late from work. You can also continue the routine the child is familiar with, in terms of feeding time and nap time and not force him to get accustomed to a new schedule
- Pocket-friendly: Maids are much cheaper than most creches. The rates would change depending on your location, but most apartments and residential area will have an adjoining colony from where women flock to work for such jobs as nannies. More supply would mean that you have choice and that means you can get a good price
Disadvantages Of Maid over A Creche
Just like a coin has two sides, having a maid or a nanny over a creche can also have certain disadvantages, such as:
- Security: All of us have heard horror stories of what maids do to children when left unsupervised. From drugs to spanking to molestation to kidnapping, the list is quite scary. Having an elder at home to supervise, or even installing spy-cams can calm your nerves to an extent, but there is no way you can be 100% in control of your child’s safety
- No backup: If your maid is sick or has to travel, you are forced to find alternative arrangements, mostly in a short time. This would involve you taking off from work or pushing your deadlines
- Privacy: If the maid is 24×7, then it can impact the privacy of your family
- Finding the right maid: Unlike creches about which there are scores of online reviews and personal testimonials, you would hardly get a maid who comes with a guarantee (mostly because no one lets a good maid go). It would take a lot of time, effort and trial & error for you to find the right person
Tips To Choose The Right Nanny/Maid For A Child
- Try to get someone who has a good reference. This might sound silly, but look for any families moving out of your apartments/area. Check with them how their maids were and recruit immediately if the feedback is positive
- Look for someone who has a relative you trust. For instance, if you have a cook who has been with you for a while, ask her to suggest a relative to you
- If you are living in a city that is not your native place, explore the option of bringing someone from your native. This is a win-win as there might be families in your native place your family would have known for decades
- If a total stranger, get their full name, address, a close relative’s address and get them all verified
- Ask for previous employment details. Insist on taking last employer’s phone number and calling them up. If you want someone with experience in baby-sitting, then be clear about this
- If you think it is required, get a background verification done by any investigative agency
- Choose a personality that suits you. Some middle-/old-aged nannies can be bossy – if you do not want it, keep them at bay and chose a younger nanny whom you can mold according to your needs. However, if you feel you are a bit inexperienced in child rearing, then pick an older experienced nanny
- Be very open and make it clear to her the employment expectations: the dos and don’ts, the need for flexibility, the salary+bonus situation, the yearly hikes, taking leaves etc.
Advantages Of Creche Over Maid
A creche offers trained people to take care of your child, a host of age specific activities and other kids to boost interaction and development. It also enables a child to tune into environments outside the home. Some major benefits of creches’ are:
- Stimulating environment for your child: A creche or daycare will have professionals trained to provide a comfortable and stimulating environment for your little one. Moreover, he will get accustomed to other children his age, which will enhance his communication skills, intelligence and confidence
- Availability of development toys: It is not feasible for you to buy all kind of development toys for every age. This is where crèche comes to rescue. Since they cater to a bigger group, most good creches will have a large number of age-appropriate toys and activities (like sand pits) for your little one
- More credibility: Since creches need to be registered and are regulated by authorized bodies, and since they cater to a larger group of kids, you can expect them to have more accountability and credibility (than your maid) in taking care of your child
- Better backup: If your maid does not turn up for a day, you have to make alternate arrangements which mostly involve you taking off from work as well. This is not always feasible. Creche will have more number of resources and hence a better backup plan if your child’s designated teacher doesn’t turn up
Disadvantages Of Creche Over Maid
- Higher cost: A good creche or daycare will most likely cost you more than keeping a maid at home. Apart from the daycare fees, you also need to take into account the added transport fees, and summer camp fees during the months of April and May
- Fixed timings: If you do not fixed working hours, or if your working hours are shift-based, it might be difficult for you to find a daycare that suits your timing or is flexible with your shifts. Many day-cares have “extended daycare”, but again these timings are also “fixed”
- Limited individualized attention: “Teacher: Child Ratio” is a factor most day-cares highlight. However high this might look, it wouldn’t be same as the one-on-one attention that your child will get at home
- Frequent illness: A first time preschooler will be more prone to falling sick frequently in the initial months, especially if he doesn’t have an older sibling at home. Further, if your child has a very bad cold or fever, then again, you would be forced to take time off from your work as you cannot send your sick child to the day care
Tips To Choose The Right Creche For Your Child
- Look for a convenient location which is either close to your office or your home
- Look for a place where your friend’s/neighbor’s kids go so that in case of an emergency, they can pick your child
- Read online reviews– but take them with a pinch of salt
- Be wary of franchises. You might hear great feedback about one franchise – this doesn’t mean all franchises of that brand are equally good
- Get feelers from staff and teachers. Are they friendly? Knowledgeable? Talking to kids with affection?
- Look for good infrastructure, is the place child friendly? Are there enough toys? Are there development toys?
- Ask about food/snacks. Visit the kitchen. Is it hygienic? What kind of food would be given? Would it be a balanced diet?
- Understand the transport options. Do they have their own bus/van? How many aayas will be sent in the bus?
- Ask about the kind of activities they will engage the child. You need to ensure they have a plan and follow some kind of curriculum
- Drop in at different timings of the day and take the look and the feel of the place