Why you shouldn’t cosy up to the help

Nanny

While it is important to treat the help kindly and make her feel comfortable, always remember that she is a stranger.

Photo credit: Samuel Muigai | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Christmas is around the corner so let's stay optimistic and hope she stays.
  • Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck with a nanny who is tired of being in the house 24/7.

A troubled reader wrote in recently seeking wise counsel on how to interact with the domestic manager.

Apparently, he got carried away by a tasty meal prepared by the help and gave a verbal compliment to that effect. Wrong move. This casual comment didn’t sit well with the woman of the house. He has been walking on egg shells ever since. Nothing he says is taken at face value any more. So he wrote in to get my thoughts on this matter.

I get it, we men are quite swift with compliments especially those directed to women. We hardly hesitate in showing appreciation. But, I have learnt to go easy on the feel-good comments because I cannot guarantee what happens next. Will she get offended? Will it put crazy ideas in her head?

What about the other witnesses to this praise-showering event, will they appreciate the compliments or it cause them to question where my loyalties lie? There are so many moving parts, so in the end I just keep the comments to myself and everyone is happy. I have learnt to "Kanyagia hio story".

Back to our reader, I suspect the praise was a bit much and so it ruffled a few feathers. Or perhaps you barely compliments the wife and so she feels like her turf is being invaded.

Have power

Words have power, cliché I know, but that compliment might have easily sparked a flame of suspicion in your wife. Tough luck counting on her to forget what you said and how you said it. That would be daydreaming. I reckon you are aware your wife has a memory that can outlast the ancient stone writings of Egypt. The compliment you made is safely tucked in her mind, to be unleashed at an opportune time.

Allow me to digress a bit, just how delicious was that meal? You surely didn’t risk it all for nothing, huh? Well, such compliments have been known to send the help packing. Her replacement may barely have the grace to whisk a decent omelette.

But, Christmas is around the corner so let's stay optimistic and hope she stays. More importantly, let's hope you are forgiven for this major slip-up. Now, the next time the help serves a finger licking meal, my brother, just enjoy your food and go to bed.

Men, did you know there is a vibrant Procurement Department that handles hiring and firing of domestic help? It is headed by the woman of the house, a role she handles exemplary. Never fall into the trap of getting involved with the operations of this department. Is your wife away? Let her do the procurement remotely. This year has taught us how to work remotely, no? Let her source for a nanny within her circles. And if the nanny needs to be relieved, she will do it herself. She can even do it on zoom. Do not get involved.

Accused falsely

One time, I got fed up by the nanny and decided to fire her. My wife wasn’t around so I thought I could handle this small task. Oh! I was so wrong. My decision to let her go set the estate's rumour mill churning. The most hilarious story that reached my ears was that I was jealous of her blossoming affair with a guy who lived down the block. On the flip side, her frequent disappearances, which actually cost her the job, now made sense.

This experience landed me on the third lesson on this issue of domestic helps. It is important to grant them off days. They need to blow some steam, socialise with friends and get a well-deserved break after a week's work.

Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck with a nanny who is tired of being in the house 24/7. You must have seen or heard the scary stories of nannies who vent out their frustrations on babies when parents are off to work. Denying her leave and off days could well lead to such unfortunate incidences. Furthermore, you need family time to bond and catch up with each other's lives.

These last two lessons are pretty obvious but here goes: Keep your family safe. While it is important to treat the help kindly and make her feel comfortable, always remember that she is a stranger. She can up and leave one morning and disappear without a trace.

So, important documents or anything that can be used to compromise the safety of your family should always be kept out of reach. True, most people are decent but is it worth risking to find out otherwise? I don’t think so.

And finally, men, please note the domestic help is a professional. Nowhere in the job description does it require her to cater to your sexual lusts.

It doesn’t matter how easy on the eye she seems, keep your hands off her. What if she teases you when the wife is away? Good question, be a man and put a stop to that nonsense. Many have taken the lower road and ruined their families.

In a nutshell, keep the compliments subtle, let the wife handle the help, be humane and lastly, respect yourself, your family and the help. Stick to a professional relationship with the nanny. It saves marriages.

Hillary has raised his son on his own from the time he was six months.       

hillarylisimba@gmail.com

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