The Rise of the Professional Nanny
About two decades ago, a Nanny was just someone who fed your children and made sure that they had clean clothes on their backs.
Today, parents expect more from their Nannies. Some want Nannies who can chauffeur the children to school. One who can help with homework or has excellent computer skills. Seeing as they come with different skill sets, the professional Nannies also come with different expectations.
According to Evelyn Kihia, Founder of Maids of Honour, a Nairobi institution that offers training and placement services for professional Nannies in Nairobi, pay is dependent on skill sets.
“Our lowest paid nanny will take thirteen thousand shillings. In addition to the professionalism, be confident that she will offer you much more than babysitting. She will actually add value to your child’s life,” she explains the difference.
Their Nannies are trained in first aid, child care, communication, work ethics, code of conduct and personal grooming.
Most mums admitted that Nannies who work for expatriates are professional. However, they expressed fears on the expat nanny’s behavior. Quite a number felt the nannies would be strong headed or too demanding.
Gillian, a South African mother of two in Nairobi, observes that this difference of opinion stems from the different attitudes in regard to child care and help around the house.
“In my early days here, what struck me most was how comfortable people are with the idea of being served. I grew up in a community where Nannies do the tasks that they are hired for. If she is in your home all day long, then you have to pay for the hours that she is cleaning, ironing and watching your children,” she explains.
Margarita Njee, a mother of two from Thome Estate in Nairobi:
“I do not think I would hire one. Their employers give them too much control of their homes. I like to have some control in my home. Plus they are paid too much money,” she responded. Similar sentiments were expressed by other mothers that MumsVillage spoke to.
Compared to the first world, Kenya does have a surplus in unskilled labour. Diane, a French mother who is expecting her second child, observes that this could be why employers are not keen on following nanny employment rules.
“If there was scarcity in labor resources, employers would be keener regarding working hours, paid benefits and annual leave,” she says.
The increased number of Kenyan Nannies who get to work for expatriates, or who become expatriate workers and Au Pairs overseas, attest to the increasing demand for higher-level Domestic Managers in the current market. Many who return from working in the Middle East, the USA and Europe bring back savings which they use to start a business, build a home, or start a farm. Either way, if you value your Nanny and invest in her personal development, she will be an asset to your family and to Society at large.