By Dr. Ayesha Javed.
As the number of full time working mothers is increasing so is the number of day care facilities for infants and small children increasing.
Let’s start from where did the concept of day care centers came from?
Home Day Care or Day care center is not a brand new term or service started in the 21st century. That’s an old concept evolved over centuries and adopted in various forms. Rich families always had nannies for their children. These nannies that provide home day care to the infants and children were given job after being certain of them being clean and having no bad habits. In pre-Islamic Arabs, it was the custom of noble tribes of mecca to send their baby sons to villages with a woman who became the foster mother of the child. They used to do this so that their sons would grow healthy and strong, away from city in unpolluted healthy environments.
Rural women who work in fields often carry their babies in swings made from their shawls hanging at their backs. Women who work as maids often bring their infants along with them or leave them with their older siblings at home.
As the cities developed, the nature of jobs for women also changed. Especially the jobs these days are mostly 8 hours a day. Now when we have to spend 8 hours a day, the peak day time is exhausted in job. Working mothers either have to leave their babies at the disposal of nannies or they leave their kids in day care centers which are often present in the working premises or in private day care centers.
The condition of most of the day care centers in Pakistan is quite unsatisfactory. Once I heard a mother telling to others that her working place day care center’s nanny give anti histamine syrups to kids to keep them sleeping. There is no specially trained and well educated staff present at the day cares to take care of children. First 3 years of life are so important in a child’s mental growth and later on behaviors. We leave our children for full days at the sake of ‘Ayaas’ at home or the day cares where no proper staff is recruited.
It is thoroughly searched and various papers are found to compare the children brought up at homes to children brought up in day cares. The results found were obvious that if proper trained staff is giving a neat and healthy environment to children then such children score better at schools than those who are kept at homes.
Day care centers must be facilitated with toys, learning tools, audio-visual enhancing techniques, a small playground and nannies plus well trained and educated staff. Well trained educated staff means women who have done diploma/degree courses in child care. They must know well about children psychologies, behaviors, and all those things that make them good at keeping children.
I am in full favour of women jobs. But my priority is of giving proper upbringing to our children. Parents must ensure first ‘is their baby in safe hands till they get back from jobs’? If proper child care facility is not available then mothers should leave jobs or they can do part time jobs till their babies start schooling. After that they can get back to full time jobs.
But most importantly mothers should be appreciated, given respect for childbearing and child keeping.
But what men do here?
Men often come home after full day job with a single statement to their wives “Bring me a glass of water. I am too tired. You women relax whole day”.
A newborn baby who is on mother feed requires her 20minute per feed and needs to be fed after every couple of hours. This total time in just breastfeeding is about 3 hours. Now if a mother is well enough (provided by her husband) and she keep a nanny for changing the diapers, even then it’s the mother who manages and keeps an eye on nanny’s functions.
Islam even gave the right to a divorcee mother to pay her for feeding her baby then how is our today’s society like which thinks that it’s a duty of a mother to her babies, why she asks for pocket money when she is already provided with food and clothes by her husband? (This is my personal view after doing lot of search. No offence to anyone).
Usually this happens in lower middle or low income houses. Sometimes it happens in upper middle class too where men are mean and women have no source of income other that their husbands.
Such things eventually lead to a general behavior of women where they prefer to do full time jobs with infants leaving at day cares without caring if their children are getting maximum care or not?
Apparently it seems that we are earning money through jobs but leaving our future generation at the sake of others (nannies or day cares) who take proper care of our kids or not, but we are least concerned.
If we look at the role of day cares, it is the most important set-up. It must be equipped with all the facilities and trained, educated staff as we are raising our future generations in these day cares. The upbringing we give them today will manifest in our tomorrow’s youth who will eventually run this country. Our future lies in our hands.
Writer is MPhil in Pharmacy and writes on health and social issues.