After spending four months at home with your little one and realising at the end of the period that you urgently need to start looking for someone to take care of your baby while you’re at work, is not as easy as pie. That is why agencies like Nanny Maids exist. This is a placement agency that selects potential child-minders for their customers to help ease the pressure off the moms and give them peace of mind. Owner and founder of the company, Nonto Mdhuli, says there are certain basic requirements that a child-minder should possess.
‘A child-minder must have a certificate that usually includes your first aid and CPR, and two contactable references’, she says.
Mdhluli says it’s difficult to find suitably qualified child-minders. Because of that her agency’s selection criteria are very strict.
‘Only two candidates are approved every month. So, every Monday and Thursday, ladies come in here. It is tough because, sometimes, we take one. Sometimes, none of them will be selected. Our systems are quite controlled’.
Mdhuli adds that the health and safety of the child are very important considerations before they can deem a potential child-minder as suitable for registration.
‘We have to be very wary of the social issues of the country we live in. Two of the most pertinent issues are health and safety and security. Those are two of the biggest challenges in our country. It all translates when it comes to the kind of person that you employ. We have to be very selective as to who we enlist in our books’, says Mdhuli.
She says the health aspect is very crucial and they need to put the needs of the child first when they do the selection.
‘We use our discretion. We have to be responsible in terms of what we can and cannot do. For instance, if a lady came into our offices and she was visibly ill… Maybe, she had sores… Then, obviously, we wouldn’t approve that person to be enlisted in our books because this is something you can see from the outside. It is visible to the eye and we would be seen as irresponsible’.
But are agencies such as Mdhluli’s always helpful? A Johannesburg mother of two, Mbali Mabuya, had to go through a couple of nannies before she found the right one. She says she explored a placement agency after she struggled to find a reliable person for her children. But, she says, the result was a bad experience.
‘She started telling me that I should not tell her what to do in my own house, she knows how to clean and knows how to look after her baby, and I should just watch and see. So, I couldn’t stand that in my home. I sent her back’.
Mabuya says she was shocked at the behaviour of her child-minder and did not hesitate to report her to her agent.
‘I was told that the woman knows what is expected of her. I was honestly shocked at this lady – even my husband was. She would literally shout at me and tell me that I shouldn’t tell her what to do in my home and she would tell me to back off. I asked her to pack her bags, took her back where I got her and reported her to her supervisor that she was just too rude’, says Mabuya.
Owner of Nanny Maids, Nonto Mdhuli, says it is important that candidates go through a course of etiquette on how to behave in somebody else’s home.
‘We give our ladies a crash-course in terms of house-keeping. That covers the etiquette, behaviour, house rules… just how to carry yourself. If you are a guest in someone’s house, you would not just go help yourself in the fridge. We give an orientation programme. You apply them until told otherwise. So, they may not smack the kids, etc’, explains Mhuli.
For Mabuya, choosing the right child-minder is crucial as it will impact on the health of her children.
‘It starts off with hygiene. My child has to be clean. I do not want to get home… find my child with soiled nappies and dirty. In terms of diet for my child, I used to normally set aside what my child should eat that day and she would just prepare it. Morning, its porridge and during the day, it’s a veggie, dinner, I cook.
But, I think they do change the diet a lot. My son started eating a lot of peanut butter and bread. But he likes it. It doesn’t harm him, so I am fine with it’.
Meanwhile, Mdhuli advises that moms should open their minds to the reality that child-minders are also people with feelings. She says in most cases, if the mom doesn’t respect the child-minder, the person’s attitude will change.