My kids are between the ages of 8 and 1.
I also work fulltime. In addition to this, I occasionally have to get out of town for work, coming back well into the night or may have to sleep over.
My husband leaves home before 6 am and comes back around 9 pm.
And as such, my children cannot stay at home all by themselves.
That is not the only reason I need a house help though.
Caring for little children is a relentless hard job with no breaks.
When I am without help, I am a raging bull, shouting from morning till night.
Clothes to wash every day, someone spilling water on the floor every 30 minutes, toys to pick up every hour, food to be cooked, plates to be washed, food to sweep from the floor, quarrels to settle, play time in which I am killed and have to drop to the floor a million times.
These kids are merciless…
Children need attention and PATIENCE.
It is hard when you are swamped.
When I have help, however, I have the ‘me time’ that makes me more patient and easier to be around.
Without a help, sex life would be zero raised to the power of zero.
I can’t victoriously send the kids off to bed, tidy the house, have a bath and crawl my tired body into bed and still answer ‘eskiss me sis’.
So having a house help is a necessity for me.
If you say I am lazy, correct THUNDAH from Ogun State faya your mouth. Mtcheww…
I cannot come and go and kill myself because I want to vie for the non-existent award of Nigerian Mother of the Year.
I have a mere eight-year experience with nannies.
This is why I can only take you on the beginners guide to nannies.
I am sure there are many of us that can take it to PhD level.
Your nanny is your employee and not your friend or sister or relative.
Did you hear me?
I remember the excitement with which I sat my first nanny down, telling her stories of how we were going to have so much fun, me being the big sister.
I even told her to write down a list of things she needed and I carried my big butt to Balogun Market to buy things for my ‘baby sister’.
Naivety really wore a corset.
Nannies rarely develop family attachments to you.
They understand exactly what their positions are and will leave you in the lurch without turning and looking back.
I recall the days leading up to Christmas one year when my son was admitted in the hospital and I had a 5-month-baby in tow, so I was all over the place.
My nanny still put up a face till I made plans to drop her at Aswani Market for her to buy Christmas clothes.
I asked her to wait and travel in the New Year because I was all over the place and did not know how to do the hospital runs and still handle the home with a baby on the way.
But my nanny of three years faced me with red eyes and fearing the worst, I quietly shipped her off the next day and faced my family.
Remember that your life is your life and your nanny does not have a stake in it.
Go over the terms of employment from day one.
Work out what is to be paid and how the payment should come from the beginning.
I once made the mistake of accepting a nanny who did not want to be paid in cash.
She wanted to learn a craft/trade which I saw as a good thing.
But nothing in this life is free.
Her mother would randomly ask for money and I had to keep them happy.
I also had to take care of her in every way. But those were not the real issues.
The main issue was that she was ‘rubbish’ at learning what she set out to learn.
After two years of learning how to make hair, my girl could not draw a straight line on anyone’s head.
If she plaited your hair, it would look like a six-week old hair when she finishes.
Guess whose fault it was?
Apparently, I did not take her to a ‘good’ place to learn.
She had the option of being taught bead making, fascinator making and professional make up.
But my girl decided to focus on the hair that she had no flair for.
She ended up leaving my place with stories of how wicked I was for not taking her to a nice place.
I once had a girl who learnt how to sew for herself in eight months.
She did not have as much time as the girl that attempted hair dressing but she put her all to it.
I made up my mind that I would never agree to ‘learning work’ instead of monthly payment.
I will pay you and if you decide you want to learn something and the house schedule can accommodate you being away for some hours a day, please go and pay for yourself.
I used to give my second nanny a weekend off every month.
Now, I know that it was naïve of me to just let her trot off not knowing where she was going.
In retrospect, that is a security concern.
If you are spending a weekend off, I want to know where you go to stay.
I know you will say adults should not be monitored like that but biko, a live- in nanny can, with a single swoop, change your life.
Have passports and references which must be checked out.
Makes sense, right?
My nannies do not come from agencies, they come from family links and I can trace them to their parents’ homes in the village.
If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t take them. If it is an agency you are using, go the extra mile to ensure they are traceable.
Having a nanny does not mean you are on holidays.
I promise you that if you take your eyes away from what is your primary concern – your family, a nanny will reconfigure your kids and do untold damage.
The moment you are not looking, they will do what they want to do.
I remember one of my nannies would wash clothes in the bathtub and the bathroom would be like the Atlantic Ocean visited.
I had instructed her to use the tap outside.
But one day, I went out and came back because I forgot something and there she was washing clothes in the bathtub.
My last nanny attempted to change the rules in my home.
She would prevent the kids from watching TV for no reason.
She would hide their toys and even decided to punish my second son by locking him up in the bathroom.
I was in that same house with her and I had to step in real hard.
I started micro-managing the situation and questioning my kids in private.
She fancied herself as a better mother than I was and decided that while I was in the same house with her, she would call my husband for anything that was needed in the house.
Unfortunately for her, my husband would always check with me.
What made her think that I could be by-passed?
She was in her late 30s and being older makes some of these nannies compete with the madam.
Four years ago, one of my favourite nannies got pregnant.
Yes, these things do happen.
I remember it so clearly. She asked me to sit down, that she wanted to talk to me.
The tone of her voice made my heart slam as I obeyed without a question.
My mind started jogging all over the place. It turned out that she had brought a souvenir from her last trip to the village.
My big mistake was not educating her on safe sex. I had moralized instead of being practical.
Speak to your nanny about sex from day one. It may not work, but then, it may.
Do not overwork a nanny.
I have done so in the past and it is not fair.
If you need them to work more than the same old stuff, you have to compensate them for the extra work load.
It is a difficult job already, so make it worth their while.
But let me caution you here.
Most domestic helps will not appreciate your extras.
This is because they know your lifestyle and compare themselves to your kids.
They are upset when you do things for your family and exclude them.
Don’t let that bother you much.
Lepers were healed and how many came back to give thanks?
It is human nature. Just be good and do good not for any gratitude.
And you are allowed to do things for just your family.
It is nice if you include them but if you decide not to, as long as you meet the terms of engagement, you are not owing anyone.
I haven’t finished yet. I think I will do a part two next week.
Stay tuned SabiNews readers…