Neha
When I quit my full time job, over four year ago, everyone had some advice for me. No, no baby was on the cards then and I had done it simply because I felt it was time to test new waters and tread forbidden paths. Of course, none of that was possible without the support of my husband, who stood by my decision.

Meanwhile, I completed another Post Graduation course and started a little venture in writing. At any given day, I was working at least 10-12 hours. Work flourished and time flew. Almost 2 years later, we were blessed with Prabir. However, I continued working. I have changed gears since and started another retail venture too. Yet, my primary responsibility is my son, with whom I stay 24x7.

While, I have the luxury to stay at home, look after my son and work as well, many others do not. After a stipulated maternity break, most have to join back work. You are ridden with fear, guilt and may be remorse. Yet, quitting your job may not be an option for various reasons.

To say that working mothers are not involved with their children completely would be unfair. I have seen mothers, and fathers, keeping a check on their children while at work. They ensure their children eat and sleep on time and even take leaves to be with them during exams etc.

With nuclear families on the rise, the most worrisome issue that remains is who to leave the child with, when you have to join back. A friend had asked me to venture on this topic a couple of months back. And after a lot of reading and discussions with friends in different situations, here is what I could come up with.

The options are immense:


  • With either grandparent(s)
  • At home, with a full time maid/nanny
  • Enrol in a creche or daycare
Each one comes with their pros and cons.

  • With grandparents
PROS:
  1. Your child is in loving and caring hands.
  2. You can be rest assured they are fed well and a routine is followed.
  3. This also ensures a lot of quality time as children learn from their grandparents.
  4. It is financially beneficial too.
CONS
  1. Generation gap 
  2. Difference in parenting styles may lead to stress and conflict.
  3. Over-caring attitude may lead to discipline issues later.
  4. The child may be plonked in front of the TV, longer that you'd like.
  5. They may not have the energy and stamina to take care of a growing toddler.
What you can do:
  1. Have an open discussion before you embark on this arrangement on what is okay. Sleep schedule, food menu etc can be given in written so that there's no confusion.
  2. Grandparents love pampering and feeding little ones. However, occasional treats is different from giving candies or a piece of cake during lunch time.
  3. Most importantly, respect each other. Instead of telling them what not to do, you can always tell them how to do it differently. 
  4. Let the grandparent take care of the child while you're home so that they get a fair idea about the routine of the baby.
  5. Call often to check how things are. That gives you an idea how much the baby and the grandparent are able to cope with. You can even then think of hiring a part timer to help, without really offending the grandparents. Taking care of a baby is an exhausting job!
  6. Be flexible and take it easy. You might feel bad when the grandparent knows exactly what to do to soothe your little one when they throw a tantrum at dinner time or bed time. But then, that's because they are spending more waking hours with the baby.
  7. Have a consistent set of rules that everyone follows. This way, the child will not get confused either.
  • At home, with a full time maid or nanny
PROS:
  1. Your child stays in the comfort of home.
  2. You are able to monitor their meals.
  3. There's more sense of control
CONS:
  1. You may be left in the lurch if and when the nanny calls in sick or takes leave.
  2. They are usually not educated. They could know the basics of child care, but may be adamant on following practices that may be harmful for the baby.
  3. Supervision may be difficult, despite installing nanny cameras.
What you can do:
  1. Hire a nanny with very strong reference credentials.
  2. Try and work out some arrangement where a family member is home with the child and nanny.
  3. Do a very strong background check.
  4. Train the nanny for at least a month under your supervision.
  • A creche or daycare
PROS:
  1. These are regulated and a bit more accountable.
  2. You can monitor activities through CCTV cameras now.
  3. The caregivers are usually educated and trained.
  4. Children get to socialize with other kids.
CONS:
  1. Divided attention as there are more children to take care of.
  2. It is difficult to find day cares that would take infants as little as 6 months old.
  3. Children tend to get sick often in a daycare.
  4. The pick and drop timings can be pretty rigid.
What you can do:
  1. Look for a facility closer to your home or workplace, whichever is more feasible.
  2. Check the safety standards before finalizing. The place should be child friendly. You must also want to have a detailed discussion about meals, milk, naps, toilet training, screen time, play time, medical emergency etc.
  3. Again, look for a reputed place, based on feedback from friends/peers/colleagues who are or have taken their services.
Caring for a child is an exhaustive job. I know as I have been at it for a little over 2.5 years with not a single day leave as yet. Yet, I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to spend all my time with my little one.

Leaving your little one in another person's care is a difficult decision to take, and unavoidable to. But, if we consider our situation with the pros and cons, we will be better equipped to take the most suitable decision that will work for both the baby and the parents.

Hope, I have been able to help a bit here :)
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Neha
Dear Dadda,

That's how we address each other now, isn't it, as Mumma and Dadda?

If we had to go back to when we met, it would have been a little over two decades. And if we had to go back to how it all started, it'd be almost a decade, All that seems ancient history now though. But coming to our present, life has changed and how!

When we agreed to be together for life, I knew you were just the one who'd compliment and complete me in every way. And that you'd make the best husband ever. I wasn't disappointed either. You have always made that extra effort to keep things happy and smooth.

However, little did I think then about the kind of father you'd make. And here you just haven't surprised me, but simply bowled me over... yet again. The night of December 8, 2013, the day Prabir was born, you held him almost the entire night. You rocked and pacified him, as I struggled to get a hold on myself. And since then, it's just been a beautiful journey of growing together as his parents.

For him, his dadda is "Pustat Anand" and no matter how much we'd teach him to use the prefix 'Dr', he wouldn't. For, in you, he only sees his best playmate, his go-to person when mumma is strict, his caddy, his best friend! His eyes well up every morning as you leave for work and the sparkle in them is for all to see when you enter the room after a long day.

And again, you never disappoint him ever either. No matter how tired you may be, you are forever at his command, from the minute you are home. From bathing him to playing silly games to reading books together, you two are pretty sorted and just meant to be together. One hands-on father, you've never refused to change his diapers or even clean the mess that he creates. And it is these little things that make you his favourite (of course, that's after mumma!).

As he grows little by little every day, I see a lot of you in him. A Dadda's boy, he knows where his priorities lie already. He loves cars like you do and books and stationary too. And most of all, he loves his dadda.

So, while I may crib every day endlessly, be rest assured that I wouldn't have it any other way. As Prabir grows, he'll learn to be humble, to be kind and will have the zeal and determination to work hard, and all this and a lot more he'd inherit from his father- You! 

So, thank you, for every little thing you do, for all that you do, is for 'us'. Thank you for loving us so and for being the best and the most doting father I've ever seen or known.

Love you more,
Mumma
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Neha

Scene 1

Day - This Monday
Time - around noon

Prabir, now almost 2.5 years old, broke the remote back cover and started throwing everything off the bed, which included my novel and his toys.

I reacted pretty harshly and demanded that he pick the book from the floor right away. To which, I was met with an utter stubborn behaviour coupled with screaming and wailing at the top of his lungs. I stood my ground and refused to budge. He, being my blood and soul, stood his ground and refused to budge too. And this ensued over half an hour of screaming, wailing, coaxing etc etc. I did try to negotiate and make the situation a little more favourable to him as my temper cooled. However, he did not relent. Finally,  after about 45 minutes that seemed like forever, I had to pick him off the floor as well as the book. Phew!

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Scene 2

Day- Today (Wednesday)
Time- around 11 am

A househelp needed a medicine for which I took out the medicine box. In no time, all the medicines were all over the bed, some being torn apart or in the process of being rigged out of their seal. The moment I reacted asking Prabir what he was up to, he threw the box off the bed.

I asked him to pick it up and yes, he refused again. So, I closed my eyes and pleaded a little birdie to come and help Prabir pick up the box so that we could play a new 'aim' game. The box was on the bed within seconds and then we both aimed all the medicines (tablets only) inside the box and kept it away.

*******************************

Would seem just another day to anyone. However, to a full time, stay-at-home mother, any such incident is good enough to trigger an outburst (which was what happened on Monday). It might seem trivial, but not when you're required to keep your calm every second of the day.

With your patience and perseverance levels tested every minute, it's hard to just smile and go through your day. In fact, at such times, I really need to remind myself why I am following gentle parenting and why not resort to a little spanking to set things straight. Thankfully, the better part of my brain and heart knows, even in those bleak moments, that spanking will not help and only make it all even more traumatizing for both of us.

The fact is that I know the workaround. I even know, well most of the times, what will help and what won't. Yet, I let my temper take over. Who benefits? Neither mumma nor the baby. It all boils down to endless tears and cursing myself.

So, yes, we mothers aren't perfect. While you may see us handling our little ones pretty well and think we have it all sorted, the fact is we don't. We too have those moments when we want to hide somewhere, away from the constant wailing and endless tantrums. We too have serious meltdowns and we can cry for hours for seemingly no reason. When we go down the guilt trip after behaving a little strictly with our little ones, we'd love someone to tell us that it's okay and that it's absolutely normal.

I write this after almost 20 minutes of dancing and rocking my son for his afternoon nap.... preceded by 20 minutes of running after him all over the house... preceded by 30 minutes of lunch in which he only wanted to eat watermelon seeds.....

I'm tired and we're not even half past the day. And that's me, almost every day. Whoever said motherhood is easy! But again, we always have a choice as to how to react to a situation and handle it.

I think a cup of coffee might help now :)