Mexico City - Childcare and Baby-sitting
Try to talk to other parents and ask for child-care facility references.
If you have found a child-care facility that satisfies you, we would like to know about it.
If you choose to work or for any reason, you need child care services several times a week. Maybe you have a domestic employee or else you should look for a "guarderia", which is Spanish for "child care facilty"
Child Care Facility (guarderia)
In Mexico, each facility has its own programs, along with advantages and disadvantages. Small facilities will provide a more intimate and personalized environment for your child. However, it could be possible that children from different age groups be kept together most of the time, thus leaving little space for age-appropriate activities for your child. In a facility where age-appropriate activities are not clearly organized, children could spend a long time watching television.
Most small child-care facilities are not regulated by the government, so there may or may not be rules as to when to send a sick child home. It may ultimately depend on the mother's judgement whether the sick child stays home or attends child care. This also means the risk of contagion could be higher for your child at this facility.
The application of many other hygiene rules is more difficult to assess in facilities not regulated by the government.
Larger facilities include a big number of children, and therefore, programs are wider and more varied. Children in diapers are kept apart from potty-trained children, which makes for a healthier environment.
Activities in larger facilities tend to be more structured, and television is generally limited. These facilities are more closely regulated by the state government. Hygiene rules are more strictly enforced: they are required to have a separate diaper-changing station with sink, water, and soap. Many of these centers divide responsibilities in different areas, so that, for example, workers that prepare food are never in contact with children in diapers. It is probable that these facilities have clear rules to prevent sick children from attending the facility, even in the case of a slight cold.
The experience of having domestic help could be new to you, and you might really enjoy it. But it has its challenges, specially when it comes to trusting your children to your household employee. Your concerns will hopefully be outweighed by the advantages of having someone who keeps your house clean, your telephone answered, your pets cleaned after, and your kids looked after when you need to go out.
Most maids, chauffers and gardeners arrive households via recommendations. If your new house in Mexico happens to have been occupied by an expatriate family moving to another country, you could get lucky and 'inherit' their employees. Also, be sure to check with the Newcomers Association of Mexico City (look in the Associations section) for advice and recommendations.
Domestic employment plays a big part in the underground economy of Mexico. The working relationship between the employer (you and your spouse) and the domestic employee is very informal. Its success will depend upon many factors, specially good communication, and a balance between professionalism and cordiality.
It is best to start on a 'try-out' agreement -usually verbal- for a limited period of time, in which you and your employee will see if they feel comfortable with each other (say 1-2 months). After that period, if everything goes well, you can offer a small salary increment to show your appreciation. If any or both parties are not happy after the 'try-out', the working relationship can then be terminated without much hassle.
Usually you will find that the quality of domestic help is good and that you will have various options to choose from. However, you should know that due to the informality of the relationship, it is common to see cases in which the employee walks away from the job without any advance notice if she is not happy, often even leaving her belongings behind, which will be later fetched by a friend or relative of the former employee.
If you plan on leaving your child with a domestic employee several times a week for a fixed period of time, you need to be -needless to say- specially careful in terms of recommendation letters from former employers, address and telephone where the 'nanny' can be reached on her day off, address and telephone where a close relative can be reached, etc. Don't be surprised if a candidate tells you that he/she does not have a telephone back home. It probably is true.
When you come to live in Mexico, one of the first things you will notice is that many households have a live-in maid. Aside from helping with house-cleaning, laundry and even cooking, the maid usually baby-sits. That is, if the household doesn't have a maid to exclusively take care of the children living in it.
It won't be easy to find a student who baby-sits in her spare time, so really, there aren't many other options other than maybe, exchanging baby-sitting with a friend (you take care of mine this weekend, I will take care of yours next), or "borrowing" a friend's trusted maid for the night -that is, if your friend has not become totally dependent on her own maid by now.
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