For every working mom, leaving your little one behind in someone else’s care whether with hired help/house maid/nanny or a nursery is one of the most difficult decisions you’re forced to make. It’s never easy, especially at first, to accept the idea of leaving your baby for such long hours. Feelings of guilt, doubt and constant worry surface, but you just need to trust your instincts and know that your decision to go back to work is so you can give them the best life that you possibly can.
Back in Egypt when my little munchkin was younger, I was a stay-at-home mom. I freelanced from home and Yehia I pretty much spent the entire day together. Given the current circumstances in Egypt, our outings were relatively limited, leaving very little room for me to take him out to places where he can run, play and enjoy some greenery and space. When Yehia turned two and we moved back to Dubai, I was ready and eager to dive back into the non-stop craziness and self-inflicted stress of PR. Before I started job hunting, I had to face the one thing I procrastinated for so long: enrolling my boy at a nursery. I was never an advocate of hiring help/nurseries and the idea of a nursery was more appealing to me. But the very thought of dropping Yehia off and not being with him gave me panic attacks. I couldn’t imagine leaving him alone or out of my sight for more than an hour, let alone eight. But desperate times call for desperate measures and with Dubai’s soaring rents, financial commitments and the need to live a comfortable lifestyle; finding a job became a must.
I found Happy Learning Nursery, which is close by my building and enrolled Yehia on a part-time basis (01:00 – 05:00 PM) just to make the transition easier for him. His first day was a total nightmare; he constantly cried and wouldn’t let go of me; didn’t listen to his teacher or enjoy the company of other children. It felt like he was never going to accept this. Day two, his teacher (Mrs.Caroline – who is by far, one of the most patient, understanding and diligent teachers ever!) told me to drop him off and leave. I literally hung out by a cafe close by because I was in such bad shape. I was freaking out! I kept picturing him on the floor crying, or curled up in a corner scared that I wasn’t around. All these random scenarios got the best of me that I even went and picked him up an hour early.
After a couple of weeks, Yehia started accepting that sometime during the day, ‘mommy leaves, but will come back in a bit to take me home.’ When I finally landed a job, I enrolled Yehia on full time (08:00AM – 06:00PM). A couple of months later; he gradually started to enjoy his time at the nursery. Happy Learning is one of the very few nurseries that I visited and automatically felt good about. The staff, TA’s, teachers and management are some of the nicest ladies I’ve met and are very hands-on and reassuring; which made the transition for both Yehia and I much easier.
So, If you’re about to take that leap, I thought of sharing some pros and cons of sending your baby/toddler to a nursery or deciding to hire help/housemaid/nanny at home:
Nurseries: The plus side:
- Meeting new people and playing with other toddlers, babies and TA’s gives your child a chance to develop their social skills and help them with speech development.
- Exposing your child to countless fun activities that stimulate cognitive development and growth; such as painting, imaginative play, story time and reading, construction blocks and play-dough, jigsaws and puzzles, moving around and dancing based on the curriculum they follow.
- Gives your toddler a chance to enjoy messy play; sand box, palm painting and things that you would be to scared to try at home.
- Disciplines children: after spending time at a nursery, a stubborn toddler may start to follow directions, respond to your calls and eat better. Various studies indicate that children tend to copy one another and are encouraged by each other’s actions.
- Assists and compliments your efforts at home throughout various transition phases; such as potty or sleep training.
- Your child’s safety and well-being are your top priority. Nurseries in the GCC and particularly the UAE, follow a set of guidelines put forward by the Ministry of Social Affairs and The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). They also conduct random visits and searches to ensure that these nurseries abide by the rules and guidelines. Trained staff and teachers also put your mind at ease when you know that your child is in safe hands.
- They are expensive.
- Some nurseries timings may not fit with your schedule, or may be closed on certain holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter when you can’t take time off work and alternatively, you’re forced to look for an immediate back-up plan for your baby.
- The spread of illnesses is very likely: with so many children in one place, colds and sniffles become super common.
Pros of hiring help/nanny/housemaid:
- Your baby/toddler is in the comfort of his own house with a dedicated resource to look out for him and give him/her her undivided attention until you are back home.
- You get an extra helping hand with some house chores, depending on your arrangement.
- Less of a financial burden compared to nursery fees.
- Your baby/toddler is not exposed to as many stimulating/engaging activities, nor does he/she get to see new people, surroundings and will generally get bored quickly; especially if you have an active little monkey.
Unsupervised care: If you can’t find someone you trust, it becomes difficult for you to leave your baby behind without constantly worrying about him/her.With an increase in child abuse cases from house help in the GCC region, mothers are forced to think twice about leaving their children with hired help.
It all boils down to how you feel and what you’re more comfortable with. No matter what people say, just follow your maternal instincts and do what you feel fits your financial budget and what’s more convenient for you and your little one.
To help you decide on how to pick a nursery, check out this article from Baby Center about what to look for when deciding on a nursery. For more info about how to sponsor house help in the UAE, check this article out.
To all mommies and daddies out there: how did you go about this and what did you end up choosing: nursery or hired help? Share your stories and tips in the comment box below 🙂