Taming the Nanny


It was only last year when the world was gripped by the shocking video of a nanny who was physically abusing the child under her care not knowing that the parents had installed cameras in the house. Chances are that when the toddler’s parents sat down to watch the videos, those gruesome things happening to their own child were the last thing they could have ever imagined seeing. The realisation of that shocking reality went beyond that household and into the homes of many.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, many parents, especially mothers put themselves in the shoes of those parents. How many working women out there have found themselves in a situation where they had to choose between quitting their jobs and leaving their children under the care of someone else while they went to work? And how many of them are aware of the things that go on in their homes when they are not around?

Because we live in a world that is constantly changing, there comes a time in almost every person’s life when lifestyle adjustments have to be made in order to respond and adapt effectively to that change. Gone are the days when women were considered simply as birth machines whose function was only to birth children and tend to them until such a time that they too got married. Women are now empowered to go out of the home and work hard to contribute financially to the well-being of the family as well. For some women, they are faced with the challenging reality of being single mothers.
Some very traditional men will argue that it is the mother’s fault if her child is being abused in her absence because she has dared to go against the laws of nature by leaving her toddler in the hands of another person while she goes out to take on a man’s role. However, there are numerous reasons why women decide to join the corporate world and leave their children under the care of nannies. The following are some of the things that such mothers can do to ensure the safety of the children they leave under the care of nannies;

Conduct a background check
This should be done before hiring someone but it does not mean that you have to go beyond ethical boundaries and delve deep into someone’s personal life. It simply means that you do enough to check where this person you are about to leave your child or children with comes from. Find out their previous working experience, what sort of personality they have, their habits, and most importantly, know where they live. If you are going to live your home and your children under the care of someone who might not even be related to you, you should do your best to ensure that potential future problems are prevented and that if they occur, you will know which direction to take.

Put them on a trial period
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford surveillance cameras and it’s not always possible to learn everything about someone from second hand information. This is why it’s important to put the nanny on a probation period. During this period, you will have to inform them exactly what your expectations are and teach them yourself how you want things done around the house. Household chores are far different from office chores. At work, one can throw around instructions from every direction and expect that people will deliver to expectation. But that’s different with the home setting because that is your sanctuary. Do not just tell the maid or the nanny what to do, show it to them, step by step. Do not assume they should know just because they have some experience; instead, show them how you want things done in your home.

Built a trusting relationship
This is after you have laid out the rules and expectations from them. Inform them of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour around your home and be specific if need be; are they allowed visitors? Can they use the phone? How should they dress around the house? How should they address your guests? Sit down with them to address problems or matters arising and do so respectively yet firmly. Listen to them when they have problems and make decisions rationally. Do not come off as easy but also not as someone unapproachable because the next thing you know, they will leave your kids unattended while they run off to buy medicine at the store. Just because someone is working for you does not mean that you are better than them; maintain mutual respect. Pay them on time and when unable to, explain to them why there will be a delay, how long the delay will last and apologize for the delay instead of going about as if nothing is wrong. For whatever frustrations you render upon your maid or nanny, those will be unleashed unto your child in your absence.

Be courteous, but not too familiar
There are two types of mistakes most women make when dealing with their house help; they are either too hostile, or too friendly. Always remember that the way you treat people is what will determine how they treat you. For those that are not in a position to out-rightly reciprocate your feelings, they will do so when you are not looking. This is what might lead to your children being mistreated because someone is transferring their frustrations with you on something that means a lot to you. It is advisable to be friendly yet never too familiar. People should never mistake you and the people you hire to help you around the home for friends or relatives. Always keep the relationship professional.

It’s important to remember that it is a working relationship because only then can you ensure discipline and respect even when you are not around. However, this does not mean that your authority can only be asserted through hostility and unfriendliness. Greet the workers in the morning, sincerely find out how they are, make a plan about what or how they will be having their meals while working for you. Most people ignore this aspect but it is very crucial because a hungry person is not a happy person and you do not want to risk an unhappy person taking care of your home or children. It is unwise to leave all kinds of expensive and nutritious foods for your children and leave nothing for the one who has to prepare that food and administer it to them. Remember, workers too are human and have feelings…just like you.

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