Day care dilemmas

In days gone by it was the done thing for a woman to devote herself com­pletely to her home and children after marriage, even if she had to give up a successful career to do so, but this is no longer the case. Many women wish to continue with their profession while jug­gling family responsibilities, and while some have the support of parents or in-laws to help them cope, others have no help from any quarter.
In this scenario, the need for profes­sionally run childcare and daycare cen­tres is of utmost importance, but so far the concept has not gained much ground in Pakistan. While a few multinationals and some local companies do provide daycare facilities they are barely a drop in the ocean. It may come as a surprise that the state actually has a law regard­ing the provision of daycare centres but unfortunately it deals only with females employed at factories. According to this Factories Act, Section 33Q-2, all regis­tered factories having more than 50 fe­male employees are obliged to provide a suitable area which can be used as a day-care facility by employees with children who are aged six years or less. Unfortunately this law is rarely enforced and even the few factories that comply offer this facility to just the executives and not the lower staff.
Apart from daycares belonging to vari­ous organisations, there are a number of independent centres mushrooming in Karachi but most of them are being run by unqualified and untrained staff that has little or no experience in this field. Such places obviously pose numerous hazards to the health, development and security of the child. A mother who sends her daugh­ter to a company owned daycare centre, feels that, “some women send hyperactive children to these centres and they cannot be managed by the staff; this has an ad-verse effect on the other children present there”. She believes that those mothers who have the support of their parents or in-laws should consider keeping their children under the supervision of grand parents rather than daycare centre as oth­erwise it’s very unfair. to the child to be kept away from home.
Apart from working women, some housewives too avail the facility of day cares as this offers them a chance to catch up on household chores and run their er­rands without having to worry about their children for a few hours. Some mothers also believe that a daycare centre pro­vides their child the kind of intellectual stimulation he or she needs and can help the child gain access to a good school lat­er on. While this may be true of some pre-school and Montessori set-ups, a day-care is simply a place for a child to spend time under adult supervision; it is not a school or a nursery.
It is also a good idea to spend extra time with your child in the evenings or on weekends to make up for the time spent at daycare as children can get insecure about being away from parents everyday. If you notice your child becoming either overly aggressive or quiet and withdrawn, check up on the centre immediately; there may be something drastically wrong..
When selecting a daycare, take your spouse along so he can pick up on the things you miss. Question the staff care-fully regarding their experience and note their behaviour towards their charges — af­ter all, your child will be in their hands, you have a right to ask anything you wish.
Check out the toys; are they baby safe? What are the bathroom facilities like? Who feeds the children and at what time? Ask if you can spend a few hours to observe the routine, this way you can also meet the other parents and get their feedback..
A daycare can be an ideal solution to your needs and can provide your child with the company of his own age group, all that’s needed is a bit of care in the selection process.

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