You live in a nuclear family, your parents and in-laws live in another city, you have a baby and you have a job which you cannot afford to leave! So, now the big question. Who will look after the child, when you go to the office? Maid, babysitter or crèche (day care center)?
Most parents opt for the maid, because the child will then be able to stay in the comforts of her/his own home. This is fine. But stop for a while and reflect on these real incidences-
- As soon as the parents left for office, the baby sitter dressed their baby in rags and rented him to beggars for Rs. 100 a day. This continued till one day the lady of the house, the baby’s mother, returned home early and found the baby missing.
- A maid ran away with her employer’s two year old son, leaving the parent’s shocked & clueless. Not allowed leave, she was missing her family badly, but could not leave the boy alone too. So she ran away to her village with the child!
- An illiterate maid puts a playschool child in another school bus. Parents come to know, when the school authorities call them on the number written on the child’s ID.
- On finding the missing valuables in the maid’s bag, the lady of the house slaps the maid in a fit of anger, in front of the kids. Since then the toddlers have become more possessive of the maid, and do not let her go.
There are therefore many things to be considered before hiring and leaving the child in the maid’s care. Some important ones are-
- The child will be completely under the care of the maid - In the absence of any responsible family member’s supervision, the maid has to be mature enough to look after all the needs of the child. She should be educated enough to know basic cleanliness and first aid, to keep the baby healthy. She should be able to handle emergencies.
- You are leaving not just the child, but your whole house under the care of the maid - Be sure the person you have hired, is honest. Once you leave the house, there is no one else but the maid and the child, so stealing small things is quite possible. If she has visitors, visiting her at your place in your absence, that adds to the danger to your child as well as your belongings. Not just that, the maid herself can be in danger too, being alone in the house. She should be instructed not to allow any outsider in the house in your absence. People like plumber, electrician etc. should be called only when you are home.
- Role Model – Children in the age group one to four tend to copy elders. They may pick up certain language and mannerisms of the maid too, making it all the more important to look for clean, well mannered lady.
- Infectious diseases - If the maid has some infectious disease like common cold & cough or certain skin diseases, the child too will get infected.
- Attachment of the child - Quite often little children get more emotionally attached to the maid than they are to their parents. This is because the maid does most of the things for them. She feeds them, cleans and bathes them, puts them to sleep, plays with them, takes them for a stroll and drops and picks them up from the bus stop. Sometimes children miss their maid more than their parents which may hurt.
Precautions before you hire a maid
- Hire a babysitter from some reliable agency or person.
- Police verification is a must.
- The maid should be literate.
- Stay at home to train and observe the maid for some days before leaving the child totally under her care.
- Leave your phone number with her so that she can contact in need.
- Introduce her to the neighbors whom she can approach in emergency situations.
- Request your neighbors to keep a watch on the activities of the maid.
- Keep the maid’s phone number and also a couple of other phone numbers of her relatives, landlord etc.
- Maid or crech, both have to be carefully selected with the all round well being of the child in mind.