Of all the‘how to’ blogsites and articles on the internet, the one topic that has not been tackled adequately, especially in the Kenyan scene, is how one is supposed to deal with house helps.
When I got married, it was the just the two of us, my husband and I. Life was bliss. Then through the bliss we became three. As a result of this new addition in our home, we were forced to hire a house help.
I had never been an employer before and there were some challenges that I faced in the new situation in which I had found myself in. I will not tell you how to handle and deal with your domestic workers but I will let you know of a few things to expect.
1. Kiss your privacy goodbye – Once you have someone living with you to help with the work, you can kiss your privacy goodbye. Never again will you walk around the house in your underwear (if you manage to even get that on). If you want to have private conversations with your significant other or even over the telephone, you will have to step out of the house or whisper to prevent eavesdropping. From then on, the messiness of your bedroom to the emptiness of your fridge will no longer be known only to you.
2. Expenditure will multiply – How my budget doubled in the first one month since my house help arrived, I do not know. I still cannot fathom how things like toilet paper, washing detergent and electricity tokens began running out so fast. And don’t start on food. For a whole month it was just me and her, yet the food being devoured in my house was like that of a family of 10. Okay, I exaggerate. But you wont believe how fast your supplies will be running out.
3. Expect to have thing mishandled and broken – An accident or two is normal. Occasionally I accidentally break utensils. But with a house help, don’t be surprised when the ‘accidents’ become the norm rather than an exception. Mugs will begin losing handles, plastics will melt and lots of stuff will just ‘disappear’. Of late, there is a smell of smoke emanating from my microwave and I suspect that something metal was put in it. No one admits to anything unless caught red-handed.
4. Prepare yourself for a barrage of lies – “Mtoto alikula”, “Nilipata Thermos ikiwa hivyo”, “Si mimi nilirarua hiyo shirt”. The bigger the mistake, the more likely it is that your children will be blamed for it. People tend not to care for others’ things as theirs. Yours are not special.
5. Don’t expect to be told important information until it is too late, if at all – When things run out in the house you will not be told until when it’s needed and it cannot be produced. If it is something not regularly used, you will find out about it by yourself. For example, if you are the kind to buy juice, the one that’s diluted first, please don’t be surprised the day you have guests and you find that it has all finished or suddenly became tasteless. You will be embarrassed.
6. Your rules will be broken – If you are a stickler for rules, don’t have a heart attack when you find that you are on your own on that one. The house helps will congregate and spend the better part of the afternoon gossiping about you while you are at work, despite the fact that you instructed her to stay indoors. Your 5pm curfew will be casually changed to 7pm. Your Blue Band WILL be used for other things other than just spreading on bread.
7. Did I mention that you will no longer have privacy? Oh, your things will be “chokorwad”. Unless you lock every single room in your house, your house help will eventually go through your things. It may be just innocently, for curiosity’s sake. This may not be a given, some people out there will never do that, more often than not, it will happen.
Go ahead and set your rules and regulations. It’s useless. Just have an understanding and draw the line when things become intolerable.