Four-year-old Shannon van Zyl is one of a growing number of children spending long hours in childcare as parents struggle with long working hours and Auckland traffic.
An Auckland childcare company says it plans to offer care from 6am to 8pm, plus take-home meals for parents too busy to cook at home.
The new Rainbow Corner centre in Botany will also provide an on-site doctor, nurse, pharmacy, physiotherapist and podiatrist so children in daycare can get medical help if needed - even if their parents can't get there quickly.
Owner RrahulDosshi said the multi-million-dollar centre for 200 children, split into two licences because centres can't have more than 150 children on each licence, is responding to "a changing landscape".
"Families are working longer hours these days, and where we are located there is a lot of shift work and emergency services," he said.
"What we are trying to achieve is to give the parents a bit of a breather so they can get back on with their lives."
He said the centre would be the first in New Zealand to operate from 6am to 8pm when it opens on December 1.
But Child Forum founder Dr Sarah Alexander warned that extending daycare into the evenings risked turning it into almost residential care.
"Early childhood operators do need to carefully look at how much they are institutionalising children and what opportunities are given to parents to actually parent," she said.
"If you take too many opportunities from the parents, it deepens the dependency of the parents and prevents their opportunity to learn to parent. Is that really what we want in our society?"
Other childcare services said parents were increasingly asking for longer hours because of long working hours and worsening traffic jams, especially in Auckland.
Herbert Sima, who owns four centres in Auckland and two in Hamilton, said there had been increasing demand for longer hours over the past 10 years.
"At our centres some of the parents are rushed to get there by 5.30pm, so when the traffic is bad they wouldn't be able to get here on time," he said.
Auckland parents Chris and Kayleigh van Zyl pay $214 a week for their 4-year-old son Shannon to be in Best Start's Parnell centre from 7.30am until 5.45pm each day just in case they get caught in traffic, even though they usually pick him up by 5pm.
"In two and a-half years he has only stayed until 5.45pm once, and that was because of the traffic," Kayleigh said.
"My husband and I both work full days. I start work at 7.30am and finish at 4pm. My husband starts at 8am and finishes at 4.30 or 5pm.
"To be able to have a centre that opens earlier really eases a lot of stress with trying to pretty much keep everyone happy, I guess - getting to places on time, being able to drop him off knowing that he's in good hands, and also just with having that flexibility of long hours."
Shannon loved his teachers and his friends at the centre, she said.
"They just build such a relationship with the kids, which really helps us as parents, knowing that they are safe," she said.
Fiona Hughes, deputy chief executive of the national Best Start chain, said she had not seen any sign in parent surveys that parents wanted longer hours than the usual Best Start hours of 7am to 6pm.
"We find that in a lot of families one parent drops off and the other one picks up," she said.
"With the immigrants there are also a lot of families that have come with grandparents so we are finding that grandparents are picking up or dropping off."
Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft said it was often difficult for parents to balance the need to work with suitable childcare.
"Sadly, we are seeing families needing to work longer hours and multiple jobs just to make ends meet," he said.
"Research shows how important it is that children develop strong attachments with a caregiver and this has life-long benefits.
"Good-quality childcare can play a role. Achieving the right balance for each family and each child will depend on their unique circumstances."
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the new East Tāmaki Rd centre did not yet have a licence and had actually applied only to operate between 7am and 8pm.
"It is not unusual for early childhood services to open at 6am and/or close at 8pm," she said.
"To be able to operate, services need to comply with the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 and meet in excess of 100 licensing requirements. We are currently assessing whether this centre does in fact comply. We have not issued a licence.
"The Education Act states that centres cannot operate continuously for more than seven days and it is currently our policy not to authorise 24-hour operations."
Dosshi, a former sea captain, got into childcare after his wife Bhavini, an early childhood teacher, opened a centre in Gisborne. They now own six Rainbow Corner centres in Auckland and Hamilton and one in India and plan 10 more in the next year in Auckland, Hamilton, Invercargill and Fiji.
Last year they bought the Porse home-based childcare business which has 1100 educators and about 3000 children nationally.
In 2014 Barnardos and the Sustainable Business Council investigated the potential for a childcare service to meet the needs of parents working evenings, nights and weekends, through a joint project called CareEd4.
A spokesman said the project did not go ahead "after conducting comprehensive due diligence and research".