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Going to work with mom: Shanghai's new approach to baby-sitting

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-03 09:58

SHANGHAI -- Aged just two and a half, Wu Rui follows her mother to work every morning, joining her peers in day care while her mother works in an office a few paces away.

Zhang Yi and her daughter have followed a similar schedule almost every week-day for a year, using the same day care center.

Before the center was launched last April, baby-sitting was a headache for Zhang, a computing engineer with Ctrip, a Shanghai-based travel service.

"Very few nurseries accept children under three, and even if they do the children are dismissed at 3 or 4 p.m. when parents are still busy at work," she said. "As a result, most toddlers stay home with grandparents. But when they are ill or out of the city, baby-sitting becomes a big problem."

Last year, her company began to offer day care for employees' children aged from 18 months to three years. From 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the children are tended by nurses and teachers, served meals, told stories and enjoy outdoor activities.

"The center also helps tend older children, including primary school students who finish class early and need to wait for their parents to take them home," said Qian Kun, head of the day care center.

"The center now provides services for 100 children, and the oldest are in grade three," she said.

"This is really the best baby-sitting approach," Zhang said. "When I am tired at work in the middle of the day, I steal a look at the photos and video the teachers share in our WeChat group. My daughter's smiling face is such a relief."

Since March 11, several other day care centers were established in Shanghai's office buildings, industrial parks and large companies, a move requested by the city's federation of trade unions, to help working mothers stay in their jobs. The number will expand to 50 before the end of the year.

A 2016 survey by the federation and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences found that 80 percent of women of child-bearing age were unwilling to have a second child, mainly because no one in their families was available to baby-sit.

"I hope Beijing will follow suit," said Wang Yan, who works for a Hong Kong-invested company and is expecting her second child in September.

Wang, 37, remembers going to work with her mother as a toddler. "The nursery was run by my mom's factory in downtown Beijing and was close to her workshop," she said. "Mom said I began attending nursery when I was three months old, but she never felt miserable: we were so close to each other all the time."

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