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Nanny Business: Caring For Kids While Parents Are Away

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TIME was when keeping and caring for children in the African society was the collective responsibility of everyone in the community. But with changing values and norms all that has changed, as parents now spend more time doing one business venture or the other. With this, many mothers cede their primary role of childcare to either the school or maids, while they go to work. And for those who could not afford the services of maids, the children, depending on their ages, are left alone to care for themselves.

However, to give parents rest of mind that nothing would happen to their children during the time they are at work, some women have begun to run nanny homes in neighbourhoods.

For Madam Ngozika Akalanze, who has been in the business for the past 10 years, the business has helped to assure parents that nothing bad would happen to their children while they are away. According to her, most mothers are not happy leaving their preteens, but because of the present economic situation, where both parents have to work to make both ends meet, they have no other choice than to do so.

“Most mothers feel leaving their children for another woman to take care of is one of the big risks they have to face in modern times. But they just have to adjust because if left on their own, the children could hurt themselves or might be involved in some mischief. But with homes like ours, we keep an eye on them, oversee their schoolwork and even wash and iron their clothes.

“We try as much as possible to create that home environment, where the child would feel free to express him/herself and also mingle with children from other homes. We create the platform for parents to keep their children and come back at anytime of the day to pick them,” she said.

Explaining that the home is not a school, where pupils come to learn, Madam Oluyemisi Adare disclosed that her outfit does not teach children how to read or write like the normal school does.

“We only teach them songs and it is not compulsory that they must know them, but if they do and can sing, it makes the job easier. In fact, the songs are most times lullabies to send the children to sleep and others we sing while they are at play. We equip their room with television set and DVD player that would enable them watch cartoon shows and children’s animated songs. Aside this, we also provide toys, as well as equip the play ground with things that would enable them play outside the room in the morning and in the evening when the sun is down,” she said.

One may think that most nanny homes keep only children below two years, but Madam Grace Ajayi, a retired schoolteacher, revealed that there are children as old as 12 years in her place. She added that though children of this age are few and come after school hours, she cannot reject them because they come with their younger ones. According to her, some parents do not have relatives they could invite to live with them; so, they depend on nannies for the safety of their preteens and even the older ones when they are back from school. She noted that some have also had some ordeal with maids that they dare not allow anybody whose pedigree they do not know to come near their children.

Is the business worth the pains? “Yes, it is. In fact, I never knew I could make as much as I am making. I had established the business to help working class parents and to get some company after retirement, but I am surprised at what is coming in. I have five children under three years; six, one year and half and four that are above 11.

“Their fees are not the same. The least I charge per child is N8, 500 and the highest is N15, 000 per month. The irony of the business is that the younger the child, the higher his/her fee. This is so because one has to give them special attention; one has to remove their diapers, handle their toileting and even bath them. One does every thing for them, including feeding; so it is demanding and needs to attract higher fees.

“I have two staff that take care of them. After paying them for the month I still have N70, 000 to N80, 000 left for myself. The only thing is that the number of pupils is not always stable; it keeps on fluctuating. No matter how it fluctuates, I have never gone below N70, 000 per month as profit,” she disclosed.

On what it takes to begin the business, Iya Ewe, divulged that anybody interested in the business must first love children, be able to tolerate their nuances and be patient.

“Children are not adults, so one has to be patient with them. This attribute would enable one to feed and clothe them because children would response to orders if one is patient and friendly with them.

“Also, one must have a very clean and spacious environment for them to play around. You must know the health status of each child; know what he/she is allergic to and how to avoid such. Overall, clean environment is key because this will keep away infection and ill health in their midst,” she said.

Recounting how she started, she stressed that nanny business is not a capital-intensive venture. “One can start in his/her sitting room with a few children from the neighbourhood. And if one is using his/her sitting room, let it be airy and spacious,” she said.

But for Madam Deborah Babajide, one can start it from a rented shop, where people will see and know what one is doing, which will also be a form of advertisement.

“Parents like transparency; no hidden agenda with their child or children. And to show them that one does not have skeleton in his/her cupboard, it would be good to start from where people will see and bear witness to what one is doing. I started like that five years ago, until I got a bigger space. Whichever way one wants to start, it is always good to start small, make the place relatively comfortable for the children and be honest with the clients.

“One can make good money in the business, if you are honest and do not use drugs or any inducements to send them to sleep. I make close to N80, 000 a month and during long holidays like Christmas, it could be between N40, 000 and N50, 000, because most parents are at home with their children,” she said.

Highlighting some of the opportunities abound in the business, Madam Yewande Akomolafe revealed that the business served as a platform on which she started her nursery school. According to her, she went into business to keep children of her church members while their parents go to work, but as time progressed, the parents themselves spurred her to start a school.

“A good percentage of the money used to establish my school came from my nanny home. I had three staff and about 20 children. The least I charged was N5, 000. However, the charges depend on the environment.

“The business is good, it could open doors to greater opportunities for one. Parents were always coming with gifts, including money; I never lacked. I read from their feelings that they believed I was helping them; so they showered my staff and I with gifts,” she disclosed.

While most proprietors would always remember the good side, Madam Anthonia Oliseh revealed that the business is not all rosy. According to her, anyone coming into it must have a clinic that could assist whenever any child suddenly falls sick. She added that some parents would knowingly bring their sick babies to them, thinking that the children will get well when they mix with other children.

“Some parents value their work more than their children, they would knowingly bring their sick babies to us. Most times, we take the babies to the clinic and call their parents to settle the bills. Though, the returns is worth the pains, I would want any new entrant to also consider the risk,” she said.



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