From my interaction with quite a number of Nigerian maid employers, one thing I can certainly say is that many hire without careful consideration of the step they are about to take. The decision to hire seems all easy; you ask your agent for someone who can clean well and possesses a good character, and you are assured of a qualified candidate.
There is, however, a disadvantage of treating this decision with levity and absent-mindedness, which is that you do not discover many things until you have hired and this is why employers are badly burnt in the end. This aftermath is not necessarily because the maids are bad, but because these employers hired people who were not good for their homes or needs. A maid can be good but not good for you.
When the contract is finally terminated, you hear things like “These maids are evil” or “I will never hire again”. This narrative is easily and readily accepted by many because they very likely have had the same experience. But let me flip the narrative over by saying “These employers don’t know what they are doing”. You may try to fight this, by saying you have been hiring for a long time and have had many maids pass through your home. But the truth is that the length of your experience does not justify the quality of process involved.
So how do you find a maid who is good for your home? Which thought process helps you arrive at your final decision? These are some of the questions I would advise you to ask.
Who do I need?
Well, because you don’t need everybody or just anybody and if you don’t know who you should be looking out for, you won’t be able to identify who isn’t qualified. How well do you think a 45 years old woman no matter how experienced or kind she is, will clean a 4 bedroom duplex every day? Do you expect an 18-year-old girl to be skilled in taking care of children? Do you need a housekeeper or nanny, an experienced or inexperienced person, educated or semi-literate e.t.c Until you are able to articulate clearly and definitively who you need, you are most likely going to end up with who you don’t need.
Why do I need her?
Looking at your long list of reasons why you need a maid, there’s a probability you won’t find someone who can do everything in it. So can you separate your wants from your needs on that list? Does your need for a hardworking maid outweigh your need for a reliable one? Does your need for education outweigh your need for experience? Your “why” will guide you to pick a maid based on your priorities, so that even if you don’t get a perfect maid, you get one who is pretty close to perfect for your needs.
Where can I find her?
Some employers contact housekeeper agencies when who they should be contacting nanny agencies simply because nannies charge more than they are willing to pay. Do you think someone who you have been promised from the village can fit into your already prepared list of who you need and why you need her? There is a limit of exposure and thinking that someone who is coming from a rural place will have compared to someone who is already experienced. Many, if not all of the unregistered agents you patronize cannot provide you who you need. This is the reason you end up frustrated.
How can I identify her?
By asking deliberate and strategic questions based on “who” and “why”. If you need someone who can cook, for example, your question in that area should not stop at asking “Can you cook”? You should go further to ask “Can you cook Ibo meals?” “Can you list the meals you can cook?” “Can you describe the process involved in cooking Egusi soup?” What is the major ingredient in making .**** soup? Can you prepare meals for a family of 12? (Depending on the size of your household). Do you think that after asking these questions, you wouldn’t have been able to filter who is best qualified for the job? The same question-asking technique should apply to every need on your list.
What do I need to keep her?
Unfortunately, many maid employers relax after they have hired a maid. They have this mindset is that these people are helpless and they are their saviors. They later find out that this is not true as their skill is in high demand and many people are willing to give much more than you are offering. I am not even talking about giving gifts or treating her like a “sister”, it goes beyond that. How is the work environment? Is there a routine or spontaneity reigns? What are the long-term benefits? How does she fit into your goal? These maids have little or nothing to lose; their job path is not one that needs consistency in a particular home. So if you settle for maltreating and handling your relationship with her below expectation, you will find yourself on the lookout for another maid in no time. They will leave without turning back.
Getting the right maid will involve a lot of work on your part, but the kind of work that leads to rest of mind at the end of the day. With the housekeeping industry saturated with more people on the lookout for their next meal ticket, howbeit illegally, than those who are really interested in the job and willing to work, necessity is laid on you to ensure you don’t fall victim.
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