All Woman

A case for nannies

Wednesday, May 21, 2014    

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The Jamaican housekeeper is a superwoman. She is the person tasked with directing the home when the residents are away, though some — usually after many years of service — are actually the real bosses of the home.

This person, almost always a female, does the washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, is responsible for other employees, sometimes does business on behalf of owners, and keeps all the house secrets. This is also the person often times responsible for the nurturing of your most prized valuables, your children.

Normally called 'Aunty' or 'Miss' so and so, this superwoman also doubles as a nanny. Along with all the duties she completes for the adults, Aunty is expected to get the children ready for school if they aren't old enough, be available to collect them when they get home, ensure they eat, do homework, and keep a watchful eye until the parents return from work. A whole other job is involved when the child is an infant.

"As a mother myself who works outside the home and many times I have to do long hours, my children are too precious to leave with someone who has to balance so many tasks within a limited time especially when dealing with a fussy baby, she must be exhausted. This does not allow her to give my child optimum care," Jacqueline Hall-Stewart, director of Angels4U said.

"Though this has been the culture in Jamaica for years — housekeepers acting as nannies — this is not always in the best interest of the child. Plus the amount of work being asked of one person is ridiculous. It's almost like a slavery mentality — get all the labour you can for a minimum cost."

Angels4U is a revolutionary in the care industry, providing premium in-home, care services. Formed in 2013, the company uses a specialised model in responding to the market demands of homecare service delivery. Angels4U offers trained professionals to deal expressly with specific needs, eg nannies, practical nurses, personal assistants and housekeepers, each having been assigned to care for either children, the elderly, persons convalescing or the housekeeping responsibilities.

Hall-Stewart went on to explain that the long hours usually required of housekeepers can end up being counter productive.

"With the challenge of so many duties to perform in any given eight-hour work day, we take it for granted that our helpers are obligated to give us at least 10 solid hours daily. After this they tackle going home on public transportation — which has its own set of worries. Then we turn around and complain that our helpers are not performing optimally," the Angels4U director said.

"I choose to hire a nanny and a housekeeper separately because I realised one person was just not able effectively do the job. Yes, a housekeeper may have been able to keep an eye on my children, but the nanny bonds with them, gives them individual attention," Rebecca Harper, host of the radio feature Parent-to-Parent said.

So whether its a babysitter for date-night or a full-time job, an honest, nurturing, competent nanny is the best option for your children. As you search for this ideal nanny, here are some tips to bear in mind:

1. Decide what you want and make a list

Talk to your partner about what your ideal nanny would be like. Do you want someone older who is mature and experienced? Would you prefer someone who lives in or out? Is a nanny with a degree in early childhood education your top choice? Should the nanny hold similar religious beliefs? How computer savvy does the nanny need to be? As you decide what is important to your own family, make a list of these things to observe/discuss in the interview with prospective nannies.

2. Don't ignore your gut instinct

You may not have proof that something is wrong, but even if there is no obvious reason for being unsure about the potential nanny being interviewed, don't ignore our gut instinct. It is important that you like and respect your nanny, so if you're doubtful, it's best to find another option. It can be difficult to know how things are going with your nanny when you're not there to observe.

3. Be observant

Be reassured it will be clear from your little one whether or not the nanny is working out. Your child and his/her nanny will form a close bond, and this will be evident if your child lights up at the first sight of the nanny. Your child will look forward to the time he/she spends with them if they are warm, caring and patient.

A nanny must keep her eyes on your child at all times to prevent injury so closely monitor to identify whether proper care is being administered to your precious one. Excessive cell phone and computer use while on the job are forbidden. While children who crawl and are just learning to walk are prone to injuries, suspect abuse if your baby gets hurt in unusual places like the stomach, cheeks, ears, or thighs.

Also observe the hygiene of your child. If your child often looks unusually unkempt and dirty or always needs changing when you get home, that's a problem. If your little one's caregiver can't take care of the basics, it may be a sign that she's not on the ball when it comes to meeting your child's needs.

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