Hello people, I know you have been waiting for this.
But forgive me for deviating due to some other pressing issues.
I know you have forgiven me… so let’s delve into this
I was telling you about the things I had learnt about nannies in the article I wrote two weeks ago before Nigeria’s issues rudely interrupted us.
So, here is me keeping my promise to finish it up.
When I reflect on the years I have spent with different nannies, I am still dazed to think that so many people have experienced much more and I am still a learner.
But I know that I do know a bit and that is why I am sharing this.
One thing I must tell you is that nannies are human beings.
Just like you and me.
They are mostly victims of circumstances as some of us are advantaged by birth.
No one gives birth to a child with the dream that they will grow up and be sent to live with people they are not related to and work for money.
It just happens that way.
Especially in the villages.
Some parents struggle till their kids get to JSS 3 and are just unable to keep up.
If the girls remain in the village, they will be married off.
There are no other opportunities.
This is the only reason why we, the so-called middle class, can casually afford to have live-in helps.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not castigating.
This piece is more of a ‘things to keep in mind when you hire a nanny’ article.
So here we go:
- Pay no attention to the myth that nannies are only good if you are harsh to them.
I have heard this many times.
Women pass this information to themselves with stories about how better behaved nannies were when they flipped and became harsh.
Personally, I was brought up with different nannies.
I can tell you that some nannies may fear you when you are harsh but if they are damaged within, it makes little difference.
They will be who they are.
So, I tell my friends to be humane when dealing with nannies.
Treat nannies the way you would want to be treated.
Treat them with compassion and fairness because they are humans too.
If they are unable to respond in kind, let them go.
You cannot become the wicked witch of Ajah because you are trying to break a nanny like a wild horse.
You will do a disservice to yourself. No be by force.
- Understand that no matter how much food or comfort you provide, being a nanny is a very difficult job and they are mostly underpaid.
If you had to leave everything as a 19-year old to live with strangers and be at their beck and call 24 hours, you would long for the hunger in the village.
In ‘nannyship’, there are no days off (some actually do have days off though).
However, there is no overtime.
You have to adjust to how they eat, how they worship and even submit to rigorous policing.
This is at the age whereby their budding breasts are bringing all the boys to the yard and they are revelling in being toasted.
Because it is a hard job, you have to look for ways to make it easier.
Do not shout at every single error.
Do not expect perfection or demand for it.
Make sure they go to bed early every night.
Surprise them on their birthdays.
When they use their initiative to do something extra, do something extra to appreciate them.
I used to tip my last nanny regularly.
I would give her money and specify what she did that impressed me.
The nanny before then, I would budget a little money for buying her clothes when she least expected.
- Do not be taken by the ‘oga’ or ‘madam’ tag.
The first day a nanny arrives, she is usually overtly respectful.
Never drop your guard.
You have not seen her ‘real face’.
Do not fall for the sweet smiles and exaggerated play with your kids to win your favour.
I have heard of people leaving kids with nannies they have had for just a few weeks.
It surprises me.
Eye Service dey boku.
My new nanny would drop to her knees to greet me when she first arrived.
It was very uncomfortable for me but I was curious to see how long it would last, so I never stopped her.
In the third week, the courtesy had ended and we were greeting each other eyeball to eyeball.
No one can pretend for an extended period of time.
How they are with you is rarely how they are when you are not around. Always keep that in mind.
- Do not treat the girls like second hand human beings.
What is all that nonsense of not letting her sit on the good sofa or giving them plastic plates to use and drawing a clear line between your family and them?
If they are smelling, then you teach them hygiene and buy deodorising products for them.
How will you let your seven-year-old jump on your good chairs and she can’t sit on them?
While your domestic staff is your domestic staff, a live-in is a bit different.
And if you intend to keep your kids with a help, you will do well to show her that you value her.
- Snoop, stalk and watch with eyes wide open.
This feels like some violation, but here in this country, you ‘berra’ protect yourself.
I speak to the people in the small shops beside my house to keep an eye if they see my girl outside if I am not around.
I do the same with the gateman.
I want to know who they fraternize with.
I want someone to raise an alarm in case they see her with my kids entering any car when I am not around.
Some girls will steal. So if you agree to live with me, your privacy is your space to bathe, go to the loo and sleep.
At least, till my kids are grown up enough to not need serious supervision.
- Finally, always be willing to let a girl go.
Never fight to keep anyone that shows a lack of willingness to remain with you.
Don’t prevent them from going home at Christmas because you are afraid they will not come back.
Your home is yours.
It will not crumble because a nanny chooses to go.
It may be a bit chaotic but you will find another one.
Never keep them against their will.
You will regret it and in the law, that is called abduction.
A nanny once escaped to a police station from the market.
She claimed she was being held against her wish right here in Lagos.
The funny thing was that she never requested to leave.
She just assumed the madam wouldn’t let her go.
Thankfully, all was resolved and the girl was sent packing.
The madam went home and brought her things and paid her the outstanding salaries.
I have loads of things to say but these things cover the basics.
I may do a part three but not now.
Election period is upon us, so let us face that for now.
Get your PVCs and vote for your candidate of choice.