It’s the beginning of the year and chances are that your last Nanny/Domestic Help went home for Christmas with the promise to come back. Fast forward 3 weeks later and she is not yet back. So, it’s back to getting a new help – another addition to your “To do list”.
Last year alone, there were series of sad reports on the news about house helps killing their bosses or maltreating the children in their care. The thought of bringing a stranger into your home can be quite daunting. Last week, there was a report about a family which hired a maid and under 24hours their three kids were kidnapped. No clue as to the whereabouts of the maid, and with no guarantor or traceable address. To add salt to the injury, the family got a ransom request of N13m. Thank God she was later apprehended, some families are not so lucky. So just before you consider taking a stranger into your home and handing over your children, here are a few things that mustn’t be skipped for any reason
#1 Use a reliable agency /agent
We have a lot of them online today but trust me you don’t want to simply rely on social media. Get a referral, reach out to people whom you know have had their maids for a considerable amount of time with little or no problem. Make sure whatever agency/agent you use was referred by a reliable friend who has used them.
#2 Quiz her or ask salient questions
Don’t be overwhelmed by the need to quickly get a maid or replace one and forget to ask important questions from your would-be house help. Tease them, get friendly and make them feel at home so you can get all the information you need. Where was their last employment, why did they leave, who their parents are, who is their guardian in town, etc. Try to know if they had ever been arrested or jailed, salary expectation and prior salaries. Yes, salary expectation in order to avoid any grudge or friction.
#3 Consider doing a personal thorough background check
Don’t be too quick or anxious to take a new maid without crossing the “t” and dotting the “I”. Take your time to run a background check and discover all necessary information about the new maid before finally making the offer. If possible, get information about previous employer, reach out to them if possible and satisfy your curiosity. As an additional check you can go to the nearest police station and do a Nanny background check.
#4 Medical test is a must
Don’t even think about letting them sleep in your house if you haven’t done this. A comprehensive medical test is non-negotiable. The test must include – Hepatitis B and C, HIV (I and II), Tuberculosis and a pregnancy test. I can’t count the number of people I have tested who came back positive in one or more of these tests. It never shows on the face. Remember, your maid would be interacting with your children, why would you want to take a chance?
#5 Don’t be fast to trust.
Don’t start handing over your kids to the maid immediately 100%. I would not advise letting your new Nanny and/or driver take your child(ren) to school unaccompanied. Or leaving your child(ren) unsupervised in their care for long hours without putting in relevant safety and protective measures. Let trust be earned gradually and even after that, ensure you always monitor all of your child(ren)’s movement outside the house, keep precious assets safely and locked up, avoid discussing money matters in their presence and limit entrance to your room and relevant places in your home.
#5 Keep Records.
I strongly advice you ensure you maintain some records. For instance, insist on getting passport pictures, the details of his/her guardian – that way you have a reference. And make sure to physically verify the home address and place of work of the guardian. It is also good to insist you only pay into an account – that way you can confirm their “real name” and if they don’t have one , then they need to open an account, get a form of identification and get BVN. Don’t pay cash.
#7Determine to be fair
Lastly its important, I know that there are some bad eggs out there but determine to treat them fairly. How you treat your house help sometimes determines their loyalty and behaviour towards you and your child(ren). Don’t deprive them of food or refuse to pay their salary or treat them like prisoners. Remember they are first humans and your precious jewels are in their care.
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