This is a story about domestic managers (dms)! We need them to hold the fort down while we fend for our families. How many have you employed? Each paragraph that follows represents the number of dms I have worked with.
- A few weeks before giving birth to my first child, I decided that it was time to get a live in nanny. An agent in Western Kenya connected me to Judy. She got into a fist fight with a tout shortly after. I sent her away some months later because she studied all the mistakes she thought I was doing and repeated them to my mother in law
- I then asked the same agent to get me another nanny. Eliza arrived promptly, and left just as fast. The next morning, she took off before I even woke up
- I decided to use an agent in Nairobi to find a dm. She sent me a middle aged woman who came in with a huge disclaimer of not knowing how to make chapattis. She told me of how her previous employer made her pick out miaze from mukimo to feed the baby, but she had no time for such nonsense. Once her boss left, she gave this poor baby instant noodles
- Next was Sheila. She was very good at her work, every other morning she would wipe down all the walls and windows. The only issue I had with her was her dressing. Her clothes were extremely tight and became even tighter on days I had house guests, especially my brothers in law. One day my mother in law saw her in pants similar to the one below and she said “uyu akipatana na wembe kwa njia hio trouser imeisha”
- Triza, was my best nanny ever. When I first saw her I highly doubted her ability to do the job because she was very tiny, but she proved me wrong. She stayed on for 2 years, then decided to move back to Uganda in December 2018, to set up a clothing business. Succeeding her are 7 women in the span of 9 months.
- Jemima would take my children out to play, but as soon as they walked out the door, she would forget her job. She was busy chatting with other nannies and watchmen. What put the nail in the coffin was when my baby girl developed a skin rash because of poor hygiene
- Jane was a pleasant older lady, soft spoken and well mannered. I found out that she was hiding her HIV status from me. Many days later I walked into the room she shared with my kids to tuck them in. The smell in there reminded me of my local bar to power 200. On the outer side of the window pane there were traces of cigarette/bang ash
- Maria from Uganda, was not so good at keeping the house clean. If I did not tell her to do a task, she would ignore it. I had to micromanage her. I hated the fact that she liked to watch vulgar music videos in front of my kids
- Hawa was also Ugandan. She needed micromanagement too. She fled in the wee hours after two months together.
- Caroline from Makueni was always reading her Bible. She refused to touch any clothes with poop. I compromised and would wash cloth diapers myself. During the national census an enumerator asked her “umesoma?” her response was “mimi ukiniangalia nakaa sijasoma?” She stayed for a month then left to join a teachers training collage
- Claire came next. I picked her at the bus stop one evening, right in time for me to make it to an appointment the next morning, with the guarantee that my kids would be well taken care of. As I was heading out the next morning at 6 am, Clair had her bag in hand too. She had to leave, because she needed to attend to an urgent matter in her village. I had to run, and I left Mr. to deal with that mess
- Then came Doreen, she is now 1 week old. I will tell you her story as it unfolds.
- Nannys come and go, set your mind for any eventualities. Identify a good day care as an alternative
- Just because you are lucky enough to have found a good dm do not judge other women unable to find one, because your turn is coming
- No! It is not about pay. You can give a dm 20,000 KES monthly and they will still do you dirty if it’s in their character
- Do not send bus fare to a potential nanny. Nowadays, you can pay via mobile money to bus services, when the traveler is about to board. Also, you can reverse a payment made via M-pesa.