Parents get WhatsApp updates on their tots in crèches

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 01 Juni 2014 | 22.23

Like the cuckoo in a clock, a silent woman in a green lab coat emerges from a room every ten minutes with a phone. She walks into the hall adorned with happy idioms and a hand sanitiser, and gives the phone to her boss, Mona Adesara. Each time this happens, Adesara excuses herself from the interview to text furiously and a smile floods her pretty face. Soon, she hands the device back to the lady in the lab coat with instructions such as "video" or "angle" and sits back, satisfied. Yet another mother has just been reassured.

As someone who runs one of the most expensive daycare centres in the city, Adesara knows that while guests can wait, mothers can't. So the "didis" or "coordinators" here have been instructed to capture every little act, such as a kid finishing a meal or going to sleep. These photos and videos then reach their parents real time via WhatsApp. "Parents are harder to pacify than the kids," says Adesara, director, Happy Faces. "So such updates put their minds at ease," adds Adesara, whose prized videos include that of one-year old Arush pointing to the right monument on the 'wonders of the world' flashcards and that of two year old Aashi counting up to 10.

Increasingly, daycare centres are using latest messenger apps like WhatsApp and FaceTime, high-tech security measures and specially designed menus to re-assure working parents that their children are in safe hands. So, at these fancy creches, it isn't uncommon to find toddlers eating meals classified by colours, listening to Mozart or even punching themselves in.

The Lokhandwala branch of The Little Company, for instance, installed a device called Thumbprint near its door recently. It registers the thumbprints of kids when they arrive or leave, and sends an immediate SMS alert to parents. "Since the person coming to pick the kids up or drop them may be the driver or the maid at times, this helps to keep parents informed," says founder Amrita Singh, whose daycare also invites a parent every month to conduct surprise checks to evaluate the comfort level, safety and hygiene of the centre.

A big factor behind such services is the changing profile of clients, who are no longer just working couples from nuclear families. "Even if the grandparents are at home, parents want the child to go to a daycare now, as the interaction with other kids would expand their intellect," says Sarita Gogia, head supervisor of Bandra's Over The Moon, which offers a weekend-night creche facility to give parents a chance to enjoy nightlife. The centre also offers day checkins for outstation clients. "Recently, we had a couple from Surat who were in the city to shop and left their kids with us for two days," says Gogia.

The fact that many of the daycare centres are run by former corporate employees reflects in their approach. Offerings such as daily written reports detailing the kids' last nap and moods, here, are likely to be termed "systems" and "processes". "These days, parents look for professionally managed daycare centres with abundant play areas rather than leave their kids with nannies or in daycares that run out of cramped flats," says Shilpa Kamath, who founded myNEST after a 20-year corporate stint. This centre has an 'Enrichment Club' that focuses on personality development, art and craft and reading, and is favoured by many expats in Thane.

However, with monthly fees ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000, these daycare centres are not exactly pocket friendly. But this doesn't deter parents. "Our weekend fee is higher than the weekday fee yet we see even housewives opting to leave their kids with us on Saturdays," says Adesara. In fact, when Thane's Mansi Waghmare, who works for a pharma company in Navi Mumbai, tells her colleagues that she pays close to Rs 6,000 for her daughter Mihika's daycare, their jaws drop a little. "But I feel it is justified," says Waghmare, who is happy to leave her kid at the daycare near her home before catching the early morning train.

Besides the fact that she gets a detailed email with what her daughter ate that day replete with calorie count as also regular updates on her phone about her child's activity, Waghmare counts another blessing. "I didn't have to potty train my kid."

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