Friday, August 12, 2016

Childcare and Nanny Hunt

So I'd spent almost a month searching high and low for a nanny/ childcare center for Charlotte before my new job commences. My cousin said that as long as I'm not picky, I should be able to find a nanny anywhere any time.


But the thing is, I've been more or less the sole care taker for Charlotte. And it's hard for me to just let go of some habits that we've been building.

Some of the things that we have not done or had ditched are

- Never sleep in a sarung (hammock).
- Never use the walker.
- Never use the pacifier for soothing.
- Never use mobile devices to distract her during our meal time so we can eat in peace (only uses when I need to cut her finger nails and toe nails)
- No screen time for more than 2 hours daily.
- Ditched the bottle at 5 months old and has been direct latching since then.
Do I sound like a tiger mom? I don't think so. We practice these because it works for our family.

My initial ideal nanny would be someone who stays in the same area as us. So I put up a notice on our condo's notice board in search of a nanny. The notice was up for 2 weeks. I was quite hopeful cause the last time I posted it up, I received quite a number of calls. But this time, no one calls! Until towards the end of second week, I finally received a call from a nanny who just lives a few floors below us. She charges rm900, excluding food. The price was way higher than I expected but we arranged for a meet up anyway.

We arrived at her doorstep at the scheduled time. I like the place. It was clean and air conditioned. The lady was a soft spoken one. BUT!!! She was taken back when she knew that Charlotte was already over a year old. She was expecting a 2 months old baby cause it'd be easier to take care and for the baby to get used to her. She was obviously not interested to look after Charlotte though she didn't say it upfront. She just kept saying that she needs to see if the 2 kids she was looking after can get along with Charlotte or not (erm... really!? the 2 kids could positively get along well with a 2 months old baby but might not get along well with a 1 year old toddler?). So it was a no go for all of us.

The second nanny I found was someone staying quite a distance away from my house but I could en route there on my way to work. She has 3 children but they would only come home in the evening. Her place is small, roughtly 700 sqft? And not really baby/ toddler friendly. When I asked her what will she do with Charlotte during the day, she said she will place her in the living room in front of the TV. She will have to take her nap there too. In front of the TV, right next to the main entrance.

This is roughly how the place looks like. I'm not sure about you but for an almost walking toddler to be confined at a little place in front of the TV the whole day sounds very pathetic to me. There's nothing else she can do. No brain stimulation activities. Even though she charges me rm800 (excluding food), I still have to pass.

The third nanny that I came across was introduced by someone from a FB group who happens to stay near me.She did warned me before meeting that nanny, that she's a very Chinese lady. As in she talks loudly and rudely. Also, she has a jobless son who stays home everyday. I didn't feel comfortable by the sound of it but I thought, no harm giving her a visit.

True enough, this petite aunty is one of those typical pasar aunty. Loud, rude, uneducated and conservative. Her house was quite dusty and her taxi driver husband repairs spare parts in the front compound so there're a lot of sharp tools lying around. I asked her some questions and I'll let you judge for yourself if she's fit to be a nanny. Conversations were carried out in Cantonese.

Me : So, where are you going to place Charlotte during the day?
Nanny : You have walker mou? Put her in the walker la! Or sarung la sarung. You got or not?
Me : She has never used a walker nor sleeps in a sarung before.
Nanny : HUH!? So you let her walk everywhere she wants at home!?
Me : I have a play yard at home.
Nanny : Bring here la!
Me : No way. I need it at home. And it's troublesome to carry the play yard here and there everyday.
Nanny : Hmpf! (Shakes head) So how? I also dunno how.
Me : (proceeded to ask anyway) She's still breastfeeding and has not taken the bottle since 5 months old...
Nanny : Huh!!! So big already still not using the bottle!? Then how to feed aaa!?!?

This lady is clearly a big NO for me.

The fourth nanny was introduced through an agent. She just came back from New Zealand almost a year ago. She has 3 daughters. Her house is clean, floor is especially slippery cause she said she mops everyday. She charges RM850 (food is not included) but I have to pay a one-time RM425 agent fee. She looks kind and sounds friendly. The only thing that I worried was her having to leave Charlotte with her eldest daughter for 5 minutes everyday to go fetch her younger daughter back from a kindy nearby. My dear, anything could happen within that 5 minutes. Nowadays it only takes less than a minute for a stranger to break into the house to kidnap a child. And are you sure you only need 5 minutes? What if the teacher needs to talk to her about her child?

In the end, I settled with a nursery nearby my work place. I visited the nursery before visiting the second nanny, actually. The care takers in the nursery are mostly Malays but I am fine with that cause I was well taken care by Malay nurses during my confinement at a confinement center, so I have no issue with that. Also, the care takers are said to be diploma holders in nursing. The principal said the medium is in English though some of the care takers' English is questionable. The center charges rm700 monthly and that includes food (breakfast, lunch and tea time snacks). There is a one-off registration fee and miscellaneous charges but if I divided it, I'm still paying not more than rm850 per month. The environment is clean and air conditioned, a lot of space for the kids to run around. The ratio of teacher to kids is 1:5.  They have activities such as art and craft or singing nursery rhymes at least twice a week. There will be TV time but not more than an hour a day.

So ya, in the end, I decided to send Charlotte to a nursery instead of a babysitter cause it's more affordable and at least she gets to interact with her peers and learn of different interaction dynamics.

Most importantly, wherever you wanna send your child to, the parent(s) has to feel comfortable where he or she is sending the child to. If one is not comfortable with the choices given, don't give up and continue searching until you find one. It's definitely hard sometimes cause the care takers might not be as patient as you are to your own child. You might have a bunch of things to worry but worrying too much doesn't help. So if you're comfortable with the one you found, all you can do is trust that they will take good care of your child. So far, I find the childcare is doing it's job well by updating me everyday when I pick Charlotte up or whenever I call in to check on her. It makes leaving her for work easier each day.


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