Thinking of starting a family? Or expecting your bundle of joy? If so, the issue of childcare arrangements must have come up at some point in time. Maybe Baby spoke to 4 real-life moms who had chosen 4 different childcare options, and asked them to share their thoughts and experiences.
Ms Delphine Ho is a full-time lawyer, mother of a 14-month old boy, and still manages to find time to design jewellery on the side! (Her creations are featured on http://essentials.etsy.com) She decided to send her son to infant care from the time he was 6 months old (Infant care is for children aged 2-18 months; childcare from 18 months onwards).
What were the main reasons for you deciding on infant care?
Neither my husband nor I wanted to engage a live-in helper; finding a reliable local nanny was difficult, and my parents are still working.
My in-laws did offer to help. They stay only 5 minutes away and logistically it would have been great. However, we decided against the idea as we were concerned about disagreement over caregiving issues. Besides, they would not be able to engage my baby beyond basic caregiving (i.e. more structured educational play) once he is older.
Becoming a SAHM wasn’t on the cards at all – I wanted to go back to work full-time, and we decided that infant care would be the best option.
I did a work-from-home gig for about 2 months, but let’s just say that it really didn’t work out at all. There was just so much to do for the baby and by the time he took his long nap, I also wanted to nap instead of doing any work.
Blip is cute as a button!
What do you like most about infant care?
Qualified caregivers and nurses on site, interaction with other kids, a properly planned-out area (both indoors and out) for young kids to play in. Interaction with other kids was quite a big thing for me because Blip (nickname) is the only child and grandson, and I don’t want him to turn out to be a spoilt brat who does not know how to share.
Centres offering infant care services also have a small child-to-caregiver ratio, so parents are assured of a certain level of attention for the child.
We chose a centre close to our workplaces so that makes it easy for us to send and pick Blip up. The centre closes at 7.30pm which is ideal for working parents like us.
In addition, the centre has both English and Chinese speaking caregivers/teachers. We are concerned about the quality of Chinese being taught because we speak mostly English at home and we would like Blip to be exposed to both languages. We were also pleasantly surprised that children of all races in the centre learn Chinese and can converse with their teachers using the language.
What do you like least about it?
1) Spread of diseases, which is unfortunately part and parcel of any form of communal childcare. Inevitably, given the enclosed environment of the centres, germs would pass from one sick child to another.
2) I feel that infant care fees are high even after subsidy. Generally, fees are $200 - $400 more expensive than childcare fees, or sometimes even more than that.
Was this your first choice childcare option? If not, what other childcare option would you have preferred? Or which other childcare options had come a close second, if any?
I would consider my parents’ housekeeper (who looked after me when I was a child) as the first choice, but she’s now close to 60 and I didn’t want her to deal with the demands of a tot at that age. Hence, based on all the possible options, and given our circumstances, this was the best option for us.
From your experience, do you have any tips/words of advice to other parents-to-be who might be considering sending their child to infant care?
There are not many places offering infant care services, so identify and find out more about these places early. Visit the centre, check out its facilities and speak to its principals/teachers. We went to several centres and eventually chose the one that gave us the best vibe.
Try to find one that is conveniently located either near home, workplace or grandparents. In that way, there’s always someone who can pick up the baby even if you are too busy to do so.
Illnesses are inevitable, therefore, have an alternative caregiver on speed-dial (whether it is a grandparent, a friend, or an emergency service). There will be days that the baby is sick, and neither you nor your spouse can take the day off to look after him.
If possible, try to put the baby into infant care as late as possible. I took my full16-week maternity leave, used my remaining annual leave, then worked from home for 2 months so that Blip could enter infant care just after he crossed the 6-month mark. About 2 weeks before he enrolled in infant care full-time, we brought him into the centre part-time (3-4 hours, 2-3 times a week) to get him used to being out of the house and away from people he recognised.
The thing about starting infant care young is that babies don’t get separation anxiety. For us, the separation anxiety only reared its head at about Blip’s 1-year mark, and after he had been in infant care for 6 months or so. I’ve seen kids who were brought into infant care at the 10-12 month mark, and there was a lot of wailing (from the baby) and gnashing of teeth (for the parents).
With infant care, the baby ends up sleeping later at night because we pick him up at around 7pm (both of us only get off work at around 6+pm), have dinner and spend some time together. By the time everything’s done and dusted, it’s 10pm. The good thing about this is that we get to spend time with the baby!
For parents who do not have a live-in helper, consider getting a part-time helper to come in for several hours to clean the house. The time could be better spent with your child, your spouse or on your personal pursuits. There are much better things to do than to wash toilets on weekends, isn’t it?
Having a roaring good time!
I Love Children would like to thank Ms Delphine Ho for sharing her thoughts and experiences of sending her son to infant care, and wish her and her family all the best!
Look out for the other 3 articles in this 4-part series on Real Moms Share About Childcare:
Part 1 – All in the family: Relative Caregiver
Part 2 – Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom
Part 3 – Hiring a Stay-In Nanny
Part 4 – Sending Your Child to Infant Care
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