You may call her nanny, maid, househelp or the most popular bai but she is the one who is almost like a second mommy to your child; the one who comes to your aid whenever you are tired, want to run errands or socialize. Anybody who has ever watched any of the following movies; Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee or the classic The Sound of Music, must have aspired to have a nanny like one of those wonder women. Alas, it happens only in movies. When you go looking for one, you are most often than not vastly disappointed. Such a nanny doesn’t exist. But still, you need to go the beauty parlour or meet your friends over lunch or just take a much needed break if you want to keep your sanity intact. And that means you need a nanny. Whatever said and done, a nanny is a blessing in disguise.
I have a wonderful girl who has been looking after my little daughter for past one year. A 20-yr thin brown waif but she treats my little one like her younger sister. She dotes on her, shares her food and looks after her in my absence. But don’t be jealous yet. I have had my series of disasters before settling on this one. Let me tell you how you should settle for your wonder nanny.
Run a background check:
If you are hiring a nanny/maid from an agency, ask for proper referrals. Don’t hesitate to call them and verify if their recommendations are as true as the letters show. If she has come through your existing maid, ask her everything that she knows about the nanny.
Decide on the chores and work timings:
On the very first day, at the time of deciding the pay, explain to her all the chores she is required to do to avoid confusion later. Also, be sure about her work timings. My maid promised me 10 hours but then reduced the work timings later as she felt I was not paying her enough.
Give her time to settle:
Don’t pounce on her immediately. Give her some time to familiarize herself to the ways in your home. She might be a pro at her work, but a new environment always puts a person to disadvantage. Show her the way you do things for a couple of days and then monitor her for sometime before you ask her to take over completely.
Keep an eye:
I know it doesn’t sound right but a lot is at stake. Keep a close eye on your maid even if she is a trusted one. You hear so many horror stories nowadays that you wouldn’t want to take a chance. Make surprise visits or come back home early to see what your nanny’s been upto. My maid accompanies my little one to the nearby park or to our neighbour’s house. I keep on asking my neighbour and the gatekeeper how she behaves with my child in my absence.
Monitor your child’s behaviour:
Check your child’s behaviour a few days after the nanny settles in. Is your child happy around her or with her? Does he show displeasure or throw a tantrum to be in her company? Check for any signs of bruises on the body. Don’t be shocked, it happens sometimes. A nanny might hit your naughty child to comply. If your child is old enough to understand and talk, ask him if he is happy with the nanny or does the nanny behave nicely with him?
Here are a few dos and don’ts that I feel strongly about concerning a nanny:
Dos and Don’ts:
- Do not be in a hurry to hire the first nanny that comes along unless she is exceptionally good.
- Many maid agencies take an advance from you but some crooked ones disappear thereafter. Make sure you go to an agency of good repute and not pay much money in advance.
- Give her good food. People give substandard quality food (rice, daal etc.) to their maids. But that’s not humane, is it?
- For a day nanny, you need to give her breakfast, lunch and evening tea/snacks. For a full-time, you need to provide her with all meals, clothes, toiletries etc.
- Indulge her from time to time. One day I caught the nanny eating chocolates while I was out. That was the day when I realized that she craved for these things. So I make it a point to give her chocolate, ice cream, sweets etc. every Sunday. Just imagine your child enjoying chocolate while your nanny looks at her enviously. When I am out with her, I sometimes buy her some accessories like hair clips, bindis, bangles etc. She feels loved.
- Look after her health and needs. If nothing else, think it this way, her illness can cause harm to your child or she will take more leaves to recuperate.
- Don’t make her work so hard that leads to exhaustion. She is not your slave. Sure, she wants money, but remember you need her services too.
- Talk to her nicely. She is a human too.
Look after all these and I am sure you will discover your Mary Poppins too!