Can't pay nanny 10k? Here are other options
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Following new regulations raising the minimum wage for domestic workers, many working parents have been left fumbling for options. Gardy Chacha listed and analyzed some possible alternatives.
That was Anne Kimani’s reaction when she read about the legal notice by Ministry of Labour Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo demanding that the minimum wage for domestic workers be increased from Sh9,781 to Sh10,954.
“She eats my food; lives in my house; uses my water; sleeps on my mattress and bed; uses my amenities – and I have to pay her this much? It is absurd and ludicrous,” she protested.
One only needed to take to social media to realise that Anne’s sentiments are shared across the board.
“House helps in Kenya can be a lot of trouble,” commented Maurine Maina, a mother of two (including an eleven-month old). “Many don’t even do the job you hired them to do. I discovered that I was better off taking my children to daycare.”
Perpetual Kabaya, proprietor of a day care in Nairobi’s South C, believes many Kenyan mothers are tired of the “theatrics” of nannies. She too had had enough when she decided to find a better solution for childcare; daycare.
Now that the law demands domestic helps to get at least Sh10,954, many parents are looking for options. But what are the options available? Eve Woman talked to several Kenyan mothers and took a peek at the lives of mothers around the world for a list of what’s available.
1. Stay-at-home parent
The only way to ensure that your child’s day goes exactly as you hope is by taking up the mantle. Since she has a husband, Alice Achieng’ believes that instead of paying a nanny the money, she would rather care for her two sons at home. “The money I make goes into paying the house help and taking care of needs that come as a result of having her around. I would rather we live on what my husband brings home as I watch over the children,” she says.
The family may hence be forced to live on one income as the other parent stays home and cares for the children. If you are a single parent and the sole provider in the home, this may not be an ideal option. But some parents have been known to find ways to make money from home through a home-based business or online jobs and services.
The pros: You are not only your children’s nanny; they grow right under your nose.
The cons: The biggest challenge would be sustaining your family’s lifestyle without a second income.
Preschool is an establishment where children with a certain threshold of intelligence are cared for as their minds develop further. In pre-school, a child is afforded care, a place to nap, playgrounds, pastime activities and mind development. The parent is expected to drop their child at the institution offering the service and pick them up in the evening.
Pre-schools aren’t recognised separately in Kenya as in developed nations because most institutions that offer these services are already licensed as daycare centres, nursery schools or kindergartens and offer to take in pre-school age children. You will find that these children are classified as “playgroup”, “baby class” or “daycare.”
The pros: It takes away the worry of child safety all the while a parent is at work
The cons: Your child will enter the school setting early, exposing her to infections. You may also feel that you have robbed your child of babyhood.
3. Daycare centre
A daycare centre, like the one run by Perpetual Kabaya, is a business model of childcare. “I take in children between 3 months and 3 years. Parents sign up with us. They bring their children over and we watch over them – providing for their needs for the period of time the parents have relinquished care to us,” Perpetual says.
Unlike pre-schools, daycare centres accommodate children in various stages of development and the care is not necessarily centred around learning. They are fed, cleaned, and put to sleep at designated times. According to Perpetual, licensed daycares are required to have security and medical personnel on call in case of emergencies.
The pros: An affable and secure environment where a child can develop social skills among his peers
The cons: Compared to leaving your child with a caregiver at home, your child might not get much individual attention in the group setting.
Having a sister, sister-in-law, brother, niece or nephew stay with you may offer another option. They could help with watching over your children while you are at work. Since the parties involved are related by blood – or marriage – the services will likely be offered pro bono. That they are related to your children may take off the jitters, the fear that your children may be harmed in your absence.
It is an option that Edith Mwando, a mother of one, has thought of in the wake of the stringent remuneration laws. “I pay my nanny Sh5,000. With other needs to take care of, like rent, food, healthcare and extended family issues, I am straining. How then would I afford twice the amount? I may start my own daycare or get a relative to stay with me,” she says.
The pros: A relative is more likely to handle children with as much care as the parents would
The cons: Relatives may leave as they seek for better lives for themselves
5. Group home daycare
What if you and your friends, all parents, could forge a partnership that provides your children with security and good care? For instance, assume a group of five parents who know each other to great length, take up alternate weeks – or days – to care for all the children while the others are at work. Since every parent will have to hold duty, there is no money exchanging hands. Working parents could utilise their leave days to hold up. If practised diligently, the method is a cheap option
The pros: You could still earn income as your child is cared for
The cons: It may be challenging holding up duty, with many children to watch over, by yourself
6. In-house day care
Corporates like telecommunications giant Safaricom have set up daycare facilities for their staff. There are stipulated rules that govern how such daycares are operated. What’s important to note, however, is that the packages offered to employees may be incomparable with having a resident house help.
The pros: Your child is closer to you every day
The cons: The closeness with your baby may distract you at work
7. Au pair
An au pair works in similar conditions as a relative. They are not paid. He/she is not related to you. However, they seek shelter at your home. In return, you may require them to watch over your child. It is a symbiosis that both will benefit from. Picture this: When someone you know needs a place to live as they get ‘other things’ to work out. Caring for your child is reciprocating for your kindness.
The pros: One of the cheapest options
The cons: When the help need to move out and get their own place, it may be difficult to adjust
8. Retired grandparents
Relatives such as sisters, cousins, brothers, et al may comfortably share living space with a nuclear couple. However, retired folks like parents may offer some of the safest options in caring for your children. However, culture may not allow them to stay with you at your house. Every day you may have to drive to your parents’ home, leave your children, and pass in the evening for them. This method, albeit cheap, depends on the proximity between where one stays and where the parents live. But the convenience is unrivalled. You might even consider changing towns to be closer to your parents or in-laws or have them rent a place near you.
The pros: The costs may be very minimal. Children may also bond well with their grandparents
The cons: Your influence as a parent may wane with time
Have you ever thought of paying a care provider just for the time they render? Baby sitters are individuals who are capable of caring for children while parents are away. When parents come back they leave. They don’t offer free services; unless the arrangement suggests so. As a basic rule, babysitters are paid for the hours they used caring for the child. This could be calculated daily – from morning to evening.
The pros: It may cut down cost implications compared with keeping a nanny in the house
The cons: You may feel that you are not getting value for money since you have to do the child care and housework yourself once the babysitter leaves.
10. Family day care
This model is similar to conventional daycares. The difference comes in the setting. Family daycares are run within houses and compounds belonging to people related to each other - but they are licensed and meet the safety requirements of daycare centres. Such establishments are yet to come up in Kenya but it has worked in developed countries. The setting offers children a homely and welcoming environment. Aliet Mugiruri, a mother of one, believes such daycares may offer better safety for children – a place mothers can trust for their children’s safety.
The pros: A homely environment
The cons: The cost may be just as much as paying a nanny under the new government rules.