From housekeeper to childminder
When a new baby comes into a family, the current helper often takes on a new role, that of nanny. It’s important that she is properly trained to ensure she is competent in her new job, writes Kim Novick
BOTH FOR PARENTS who will soon return to work after the birth of a baby and those who stay at home, it’s vital that your housekeeper is equipped to manage the needs of a small baby.
Just as you need to equip yourself, so too should your housekeeper have the skills and ability needed to care for a child. This means she should be able to do the basic routine stuff, from changing nappies and sterilising bottles, to bathing, dressing and putting your baby down for a nap. She also needs to know first aid and CPR procedures, how to cook baby foods and understand their nutritional value. Lastly, your baby’s nanny needs to have the skills to emotionally and physically stimulate your little one.
WHY TRAIN HER?
Training your current housekeeper has the advantage in that this is presumably someone with whom you already have a relationship. However, you need to discuss her new role beforehand, as it will be quite different, particularly if this is a first baby in the house.
“The advantages of training your housekeeper to help take care of your baby means your child can get one-onone care, in her home environment, by a familiar person who has the knowhow and skills to care for your child in the best manner possible,” says Ruth Kloppers, owner of Help at Home, a company that specialises in the training of domestic staff.
Before you start, discuss the following issues with your helper:
Is she willing to take on the more responsible role of caring for your baby?
Is she interested in doing various courses that will help grow her abilities?
How will her hours and salary change? You need to be in agreement on this.
FROM “HOUSEKEEPER” TO “CHILDMINDER”
Don’t assume your housekeeper automatically wants to become a childminder. This is something you need to assess and discuss in equal measures.
“No matter how much you love and trust your housekeeper, ask yourself, ‘Will she be good with children?’ Does she want to be a childminder because she needs the job or because she genuinely likes children?” says Ruth.
She says in this case the reality is that the first priority is now the baby, not the housework. Ruth says employers also need to change their expectations.
“The house may not be immaculate if your housekeeper is looking after your child. Although she may be able to do basic cleaning and tidying in the home, often the larger, time-consuming tasks, such as ironing and washing windows, will not be done. The employer and employee both need to understand the tasks involved and manage the workload effectively, without compromising on the well-being of the child being cared
for,” she explains.
YOUR OWN CHECKLIST
From the time your baby arrives home, encourage your housekeeper to spend time with you and her. She needs to understand your needs and how you like things done.
“Show her how to change the nappy, what creams to use and how and when you like the nappy changed (for example, when the baby wakes up or midway through feeds). Once she has watched you a few times, let her change a nappy with you present so that you can guide her through the process,” says Kirsten Mcintosh of Sugar & Spice Domestic Training in Cape Town.
Once you are confident your housekeeper has mastered the basics and is doing things in a manner with which you are comfortable, spend time with her planning the daily routine, factoring time for housework, baby feeding, sleep and play time.
“It is important that you not only establish the routine, but that you explain the importance of the routine for the child, acknowledging that this routine will give the child security and allow your nanny time to get through her housework,” explains Kirsten. YB