This is the 21st century (oh..yeah what a cliche), when no one will fuss so much about what you do in your house as long as it doesn’t affect their lives. This is the century in which working mothers and married women don’t have to yield so much pressure that come with running a house. Thank God, nannies came to fill in this gap. Running a house is no different from running the CBK.
Anyway, now that you have this lady (‘nanny’ is feminine; please don’t throw any feminist punches at me) in the house, do you ever demarcate the boundaries of her roles as the employer? Remember every employee deserves respect... and job description. She is not a shadow mother. Heck, probably she does not like washing your husband’s vests but she would like it if she receives full benefits (that come with such responsibilities) as well. One thing is for sure: you can’t let your nanny perform every possible chore in the house.
Here are nine things you can’t allow her to take responsibility for:
Attending to the bedroom
How much do you value your bedroom? If you were Aliet Mugiruri you would say it is your sanctuary. A fortress where pleasure is given and received. Yes, a place where two really become one; where vows stop being just words and take up form and shape. “No one — except for me and my husband — is allowed to enter my bedroom,” the mother of one says. A nanny should not be allowed to access the bedroom willy-nilly. The bedroom is mystical that way. Husband and wife souls float in this space. Don’t let another woman — not even the nanny — bump into your husband’s soul lest they start a conversation.
In some cultures, undergarments hold such mystical powers they can’t be thrown about in random conversations. Plus, they are not meant to be seen. The only exceptions to this rule are at the beach and when one’s faculties have been possessed by goblins. In Aliet’s opinion, “Undergarments are very personal. Don’t bundle them in the clothes basket with shirts and trousers. Let the nanny wash everything else but not clothes that form the first layer of cover: not yours and not your husband’s.” I suspect nannies too find it offensive when they have to do laundry and come across boxer shorts or knickers.
Serving husband food
Yes, it is true: the nanny will yank away your husband plate by plate. I can already picture the feminists; rising from their lairs, aghast and ready to get grubby with words. They will say how men are such big babies who can’t keep it in their pants. The truth is men are actually life size babies. In the natural order of things, a husband and a wife serve each other. This is what marriage counsellor Jennifer Karina refers to as ‘commanding your space’. The food may be cooked by the nanny. Don’t allow her however to march over to where he is sitting and offer him a plate. If she is from that place where women kneel before their husbands even for mundane things such as greetings then you will quickly realise the true power of her charms. ‘Big baby’ may start asking that his food be served just like the nanny does it.
Preparing bath water for husband
Okay. This should be the last one on husbands. Look at it this way, husbands are off limits for nannies. Here is the thing; women know each other very well not to trust each other with their husbands. Your nanny may have come into the house in search for a salary but that wouldn’t stop her from dreaming. A man like yours: a man who can afford a blue Subaru running on a 1500CC is way better compared to the knucklehead who took off and left her with a pregnancy to carry. If the nanny is afforded the opportunity to dazzle your husband with a warm bath she will milk it for all its worth.
Operating difficult machines
Not all of us were born with similar privileges. Don’t assume that your nanny has the skills to operate the dishwasher. Or that the microwave oven has instruction notes perched on it and therefore she should read (and understand). That, like Irene Nyakwoga found out at the start of this week, is a big mistake. One Monday she left for work and trusted that the nanny will have an easy time with the gas cooker. She returned home to firemen battling an inferno. Luckily her toddler son and the nanny were in the crowd as well. But then this situation is only unique to some. Use your judgement and instinct.
Taking the baby for clinical appointments
From the day a baby is born, there are scheduled vaccinations and weight measurements to deal with. “It is always advisable that parents to the baby are present at the paediatrician’s,” says Dr Supa Tunje of Adora Children’s clinic. “But if it is an emergency then anyone can rush the baby to the hospital but then the parents have to be informed immediately.” Relying on your nanny to attend the clinic on your behalf and only relay the message is playing Russian roulette with your baby’s life. You surely can afford a day off every month. Unless you have relinquished your motherhood rights to the nanny: in which case she should go ahead and breastfeed it. That too is untenable.
Bathing and massaging an infant
When they are born babies are fragile. They are at a precarious position, and according to Dr Tunje, have low immunity compared to the average adult. Their bodies have a lot of catching up to do. That means there can be only very little room for error when it comes to any activities that involve extensive mechanical handling of the baby — like bathing. It may sound like such a simple thing but placing that fragile piece of life propped on your arm as the other hand strokes with a wet cloth is an art. Have you heard stories of nannies ‘drowning’ babies while bathing? Also, massage for the baby needs a handy maven: someone who understands ‘pressure points’ and ‘nerve function’. You don’t want your baby staring blankly into the air at the end of a massage — looking half excited and half alive.
Charity Katago is a mother who values her role in her children’s lives. Just like she can’t abdicate her biological duties of breastfeeding to the nanny so will she hold fort where she believes it is only her input that would be necessary. When a child is close to the nanny that they can’t tell who is mummy and who isn’t, Charity thinks there is a problem. “The nanny should not take away the emotional connection the woman of the house has with her children,” she says. Essentially, however busy one can be, don’t delegate quality time with your children to the nanny. According to Rose Kigen, a parenting expert, children form bonds when they are still young. She adds: The best way a parent will score points with their children is by spending time with them; having a conversation or playing games.
Sleeping with the babyWhat was your favourite subject in school?
I get it. No, I actually don’t get it. Why would you ask your nanny to spend the night with the baby just so you can ‘rest’? Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is not a theory. Lucy Muchiri of Eve’s Mama Midwife Clinic and Birth Centre will tell you that “there is a real risk of suffocating the baby” if the person sharing the bed with the baby is not watchful. We are not saying that nannies have no bed etiquette but remember their conscience does not register trouble at the same propensity as a mother’s. Lucy says a baby is better alone in her coat than on the nanny’s bed.