One of the benefits of living in Nigeria is that labour is cheap. So for working Mums (and those who can) having a nanny is a great advantage. But can you find a good nanny? Welcome to the nanny trap.
Abiola Okubanjo, Director of Tiger Lily Children’s Wear shares her views on finding that rare gem and reveals just what it might cost you to achieve this feat.
Benefits of getting a nanny
I had always heard that living in Nigeria would be a great experience as a mum. Where before I struggled valiantly alone with all child-rearing duties, now I would enter a period of living it up like a Queen.
No more getting the kids up in the morning, ‘sayonara’ to the ritual of bath and dressing, and ‘so long’ to the school run. I could turn my back on the endless cycle of cooking and feeding, put a thumb up the nose to the mad dash through traffic to make it in time to pick the kids up before the school called social services on me and say ‘goodbye’ to the exhausting bedtime routine.
How to find a good nanny
I arrived in Nigeria ready to embrace the freedom of being ‘a Madame’ and then… I noticed the terms and conditions of my new status.
In bold, and highlighted for the world to see, it says “You employ staff to take over the bits of child-rearing you can’t be bothered to do”. However, the devil is in the detail, the small print shall we say. It’s here you learn what a trial it is to actually find competent staff to entrust your pride and joy to.
You learn that far from discussing the merits of different child-rearing philosophies with a modern-day Mary Poppins, you cross off “Why do you want a career looking after children?” from your list of interview questions. When the answer is invariably “I don’t, I just need the money” accompanied by a baffled look, you have to lower your expectations.
What nannies are asking for these days
Eventually you make your choice from the slim pickings of money-focused ladies of indeterminate age (I have had women in their forties claiming they are under 25!) and delusions of where their ‘skill’ places them in the pecking order of the labour market (from their salary requests you would think I was employing a PhD graduate for a chemical engineering role).
Lets assume that the gods are smiling on you from above and your chosen lady actually turns up for work at the appointed time and day. Lets also assume that she passes the medical you insist she takes with a trusted clinic of your choice, after all you have been warned that All Clear medical checks from the ladies themselves or their agents are to be treated with caution.
How to train your nanny
Finally it is just you, the Nanny and your wary kids. This is where the real work begins. You can forget the idle life of the underemployed mama sitting back and allowing her to get on with it. Oh No, you have now become a one-woman Health & Safety Expert, Distributor of First Aid Knowledge, Infection Control Police, Practical Child Care Trainer, Implementer of Safe Working Practices, Fire Marshall and Work Ethic Mentor.
Nannies, even the experienced ones, do not necessarily come burdened with prior knowledge or understanding of simple childcare skills. Do not be surprised if your Nanny thinks it is perfectly reasonable to allow raw meat to gently defrost on a shelf above peeled and chopped fresh fruit. Shrug it off if you have to explain the merits of holding on to the banister while she carries your precious, squirming toddler up two flights of marble staircase. Merely sigh when you have to remind her AGAIN to wash her hands with hot water AND soap before she prepares your little one’s meal, especially as she has just left the ladies’ room.
With such vigilance required on your part, you would be forgiven for snorting in disbelief at the picture painted of idle, wine-swilling ‘Madames’ that you were initially presented with. That’s the Nanny Trap we have to deal with in real life.
Tiger Lily Children’s Wear is an affordable luxury mail-order and online brand for newborns to teens that cares about style and believes in value for money. Founded by former hedge-fund manager and mum of 2, Abiola Okubanjo and international fashion stylist, Yety Akinola, Tiger Lily has headquarters in London and operations in Nigeria. From our New York office, Yety, who styles celebrities such as rapper Kanye West, singer Justin Bieber and actress Danni Minogue, expertly puts our range together.