It’s another work week and for working Mums with young children one of the hot topics is getting the right help for their children. I have a friend who resigned after she kept having issue with help and eventually opened a business, another decided she was done with help. I for the most part have been lucky in that department.
The truth is that while there is no formula to getting good help there are a few tips that could help. Here are 14 tips to help you hire and keep the best help for your home.
Referrals rock: While you may be lucky to meet a good person through an agent, I generally prefer a personal referral. It’s not easy bringing a stranger into your home so it’s better when someone you know also knows them too. I’ve been able to find trustworthy employees through former employees and friends. When possible get a reference from their pastor or last employer.
Interview properly : It’s not enough to make a hiring decision off the appearance of a prospective nanny. Instead, ask some open and direct questions to give you a feel of whether she can fit the role. Some questions to ask are- Does she have experience with children ? Does she know what’s expected her? Ask her directly and do not make any assumptions. If you don’t have the skills to conduct a proper interview for your new nanny, ask someone experienced (your mother, for instance) to assist . Additionally, pay close her body language and interactions with your children, if they are around during the interview.
Trust your intuition: Don’t allow desperation to force you into going against your gut. Many times our instincts speak to us but we choose to ignore. I remember having a nagging feeling about a prospective nanny. Even though I was quite desperate for help, I refused to take her on as my spirit just didn’t quite accept her. Weeks later, I heard that the person who had hired her called the agent with numerous complaints and wanted her to leave .
It’s give and take :All relationships are a two-way street so both parties should receive some benefits. You can’t treat your fellow human like crap and expect that she will give you her best. “What a man sows, he shall reap” so always bear this in mind if you want to get the best out of people working in your home. Yes, there are some people who don’t appreciate the good you do but don’t dwell on such and look for those who will.
No one is perfect: Ok, she is great with the children but annoyingly slow. Prioritize the characteristics/skills that are important to you and look for a person that ticks those boxes.
Skill set : Learn to match people to what they excel at. I remember having two girls who were very different. Girl A was very hard working and could work from dusk to dawn but wasn’t great with children. Girl B on the other hand, loved children but took forever to get stuff done. Once I discovered this, I quickly switched their roles even though I had initially hired Girl A to look after my baby. This led to a lot more sanity in my household as everyone was happy with their roles.
It’s more than a job: With nannies it’s not a regular job. Personally, I make them part of the family and ensure they feel they have a stake. Someone who is vested will put her heart into caring for your children and this can’t be overemphasised. Till tomorrow my former nannies (except the ones that had serious issues) still come to visit and have a relationship with the family.
It’s not by force: If she isn’t a good fit for your home, why must she stay? I’ve heard of people paying an employee mid month to coerce her to stay or being so frustrated by the employee but yet reluctant to change. This is often due to people getting frustrated by the high turnover of domestic staff and feeling they have to settle. However, when it comes to your children, don’t manage a situation you are not happy with.
Pray: Hmm! You better pray about the person you bring into your home. Like I’ve said before, this isn’t a regular job. These people are part of the fabric of your home. I pray with my girls and ensure they join us for family prayers. Pray about them before you employ, pray with them and pray for them .
Set out their tasks: During the interview stage make sure they understand what’s expected of them. Once you hire go further by actually setting it out plainly by creating a time table of tasks. This can also serve as a guide even in your absence. Never assume that she knows what to do in your home as things may have been different where she previously worked. it’s up to you to dictate how exactly you want things done.
Probation: I always have a speech when I hire “let’s give it a month to see if I’m happy with you and if you are happy working here”. True to my word, after the first month, we have a discussion to assess performance and decide if we ‘break up’ or carry on.
Roots: It’s good to make sure you get up close and personal when or comes to knowing your helps roots. I remember when we used to go home for Christmas, sometimes my Mum would also go with our nannies to their own villages. She could have just asked them to go with public transport but she wanted to know their families. At that time most help weren’t paid but instead went to school or learnt a vocation and Mum was mostly doing that to thank their parents and make her wards feel loved. These days the main reason is for security but the other benefits could also accrue.
Days off : The same way we look forward to public holidays and breaks is the same way our staff also look forward to some time off. With young children giving nannies a day off may be hard but if they ask do consider giving them at least one weekend a month. For someone like me who has mostly grown children I am happy to give every Sunday off and at Christmas time I encourage them to go home. Every one deserves some time off.
Help yourself: Even when you are fortunate to get good domestic help ensure you aren’t totally reliant on them. This will help you when inevitably they have to leave. Get your children to get used to doing some chores around the house so that when there’s no one to do them you don’t go into panic mode. Also it will ensure that no one you hire feels indispensable. Right now I have no live in help and I’m good as I had started getting my children to do some chores a while ago.
Help them: Ok you are paying your help a salary and that should be that right ? well not necessarily. If you are able then find ways to help those who have been a good source of help to you. Equip and Empower them if possible and ensure they leave your home better than they came.
There is so much to share but I will stop here.What tips do you have that have helped you?