This Women’s Month, Gift Me An Affordable Daycare System

India, as a country that world corporates are turning to for the wealth of human resources we have, can do well to invest in childcare, for a balanced present and a great future.

I am having a typical Women’s Day routine: My inboxes overflow with wishes and congratulations on being a woman, how women are actually superior to men, how women can do it all and have it all, and all the hubbub that comes with the day. Just as the snorting, sceptic me almost makes peace with the peace-making compassionate me (“…maybe these people actually mean well!”), news channels start playing out eloquent wishes from the political leadership circles.

I can’t help but roll my eyes. There is so much that real policy changes can do for women; but I have a meeting to attend, so I push the thought aside.

But… real life of a work from home mom intrudes

Halfway through the meeting, the door of my bedroom-cum-workspace is being banged upon. My younger child wants to do the ‘potty’ and of course, I have to go. Along comes my elder child, who needs help with a test in History and some creative writing assignment. And my workday is just warming up, given I work with people who sit halfway across the world.

Now how am I supposed to deliver my best at work, at home, and in all things in between? Caught in the time-tested career-pangs-vs-mommy-guilt vortex, I feel like pieces of the Awkward Yeti comic strips. I can’t help but send a silent, desperate wish to the stars for a reliable, affordable childcare system in India.

Looking deeply, this is something that hits working women across economic strata and across ages too – lack of access to childcare is a reason why older girl children in rural areas drop out of schools or work; they go on to care for younger siblings who need to be looked after while their parents are toiling to earn their livelihood.

I also believe that it is time I stopped deputing the duty to the grandparents of my children – they love their grand children (more than they love me – but that’s a story for another day), but they need their me-time too. Caring for children in the current ages is so demanding and my parents may just not be as enthusiastic or energetic at all times. They get tired so easily and my children get bored so quickly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that many of us run the risk of setting off another Trojan war by outsourcing childcare to own own parents. Also add to this the fact that today’s parents are trying to embrace gentle parenting as against the school of abject obedience that we were aligned to as children.

Can there be better childcare options?

We do have private childcare options, but they are in essence expensive and exclusive. Be it families with double income or those led by single parents – most of us are already bent under the of living costs at varying degrees. This is why I believe that state-led or public-private childcare support system with some element of subsidised, affordable charging mechanism can drive a world of parent-friendly changes here.

Of course, we have countries like Sweden, Norway and Germany that have successful state-sponsored childcare programmes, ensuring empowerment and progress of the women and entire families in general. India, as a country that world corporates are turning to for the wealth of human resources we have, can do well to invest in childcare, for a balanced present and a great future.

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This is not entirely impossible either. There have been instances of successful childcare programmes in the country; interestingly these have been implemented at grassroots levels (more information on this here.) While most of these existing programmes focus on childcare for the very young children (~1-5 years of age), a lot of us stand to benefit by structured programmes that could support older children as well. Maybe I am building castles in the air; but if manifestation is really a thing, I am making a log for this wish, right here.

If women should ‘achieve’ they should be supported

Apparently, I’m not saying anything new here; only adding to the collective concerns of people like me. World knows that women who are mothers with a career have so much to negotiate along the way. Everybody wants women to achieve, shatter glass ceilings, grow like the Indra Nooyis of the world and shine like you lost no sleep in the process. But how, is the real question. If we sat through classes and examinations while bleeding as girls, growing up we are having to keep up with project deadlines, home chores, PTA meets, flash test preps and appointments with the gynecologists/ therapists/ both.

Raising children is never a simple thing, not ever. The point I really want to make is that I will definitely, personally vote for someone who promises me a reliable, affordable childcare facility. And now I really have to go because my younger child has smattered some chutney on my elder child’s sports uniform; I have seven minutes left before my next MS Outlook alert goes off for the next meeting – see what I mean?

Image source: shutterstock

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About the Author

Sindhu Priyadharsini Sankar

Sindhu is a writer and a mother of two. A self-confessed bibliophile and a movie buff, she finds relief and meaning in doodling, cooking, escaping to hill towns, and her friends. A big fan read more...

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