Hiring domestic help ….

As you may know, Pepe has left us/me – she wants to bring her daughter down from Zimbabwe, and she needed to find a sleep out role, and my house cannot function without a person sleeping in, it is just too chaotic, and does not work.

Of course I am sure I will never find someone as good as Pepe, and I will embark on a journey of hiring that will kill me.

I did several interviews, short listed three ladies and had Kennith interview the “final three.”

I knew who I felt was the “top choice” but I am aware that often my decisions regarding “domestic staff” is quite emotional, so I wanted Kennith to have his 2 cents, and make a decision and then I could see if he agreed with my choice.

He selected T, which I thought was a bit odd as I felt P was a clear winner.  But I decided to go with his decision, and brought T in for a trial.

I told her it would be a one month trial, but after three days I started to get very nervous that we had made a “not great” decision.

T was lovely, and keen, eager and all of those lovely things, but she was unfortunately not bringing much in the way of experience to the party.  I felt I could train her, as she was really keen, but it would take at least 6 months of day-to-day training to get there, and I was not sure I had that in me.

She was lovely with the kids, and the kids really liked her.

Thursday night we decided to make some hasty decision-making.

We (translate into Kennith) would tell T that we were going to have some people in over the weekend, and that she should go home, and also that we were going to end the trial so that we could trial someone else.

Really, there is just no way to put that nicely – and it was as awful as it sounded.

I did not want to face her as I felt really awful – as she was lovely, but just not quite 100% right for us – I just did not want to see T sad.  I asked Kennith to tell her and then I would come back from work after T was gone, and then at least I would not feel so bad as I did.

It did not go that way.  Traffic and various other factors resulted in T being stuck on the side of the road with her huge bag, and me going to collect her and take her to the station.

I then had to make small talk for the drive from home to the station.  I managed to have a fully fledged one-sided conversation about bicycles.  All the way to the station.

I do not do small talk.  I do not do awkward situations in small spaces.  I really hate this process of “trialing” domestic staff and I feel responsible for everyone who comes in to contact with me.

I dropped T off at the station, and I think I was having a bit of a sob on her behalf.  It was all really horrible.

She is so lovely, and I knew that she had an “experience” gap, but the experience gap just started to feel a bit insurmountable, and I started to wonder if I was making my life more complicated when in actual fact having domestic help should make it simpler.

Saturday I got P in and then also asked Tarisai (who I have used on a day-to-day basis) to come in and “train” P.

The two worked like a tornado – and cleaned things I did not know could be cleaned.  P is lovely and by Sunday I was already feeling that this was the better decision.

So this week is a new week with P, and so far it is going really well.  This entire idea of finding someone who can work/live in your house, and you have to trust in your space, with your children, with your cheese, is fraught with stress and anxiety – and at a certain point you need to sort of fall back in to it and trust blindly.

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The hunt for the new Pepe!

Pepe has left me.  Try to picture me in a hair shirt, throwing myself to the floor sobbing – uncontrollably.  That is a pretty accurate picture of how things are.  I have managed to hide it well with an outward guise of  “disinterest and calm…”

Do you know how difficult it is to keep up a facade of serene yen garden when actually you are going: “holy harry, and fk a duck, what the hell am I going to do now!!” but screaming inside and using really bad cuss words?

It is a bit of a challenge.  But I have “blank face, non fussed” pretty taped right now.

I approached a nanny agency for assistance – they came back to me after a week, with no.thing!  Clearly they were going to be terrific in solving my problem.  To be honest I have really lost the “buzz” of agencies some time back.

I used to use this phenomenal agency Marilyn’s Maids (initially in Milnerton then moved to Sea Point).

Marilyn was trained by the KGB (I am sure) and had a degree in “not taking shit from shenola” – damn she was good.

You called her, explained what you thought you wanted, she then told you what you actually need, a week later you were sitting in her office interviewing three “perfect” candidates.  End of the day you had a new maid – worked every time.

Marilyn went to the UK, sold her agency to someone else.  They = suck = me at a bit of a loss.

I have tried a few other agencies since then, but in general they are all a bit not great.

I really do have a mild urge to start a nanny or domestic agency. I seriously get so little joy from the ones I deal with and I think based on my ‘in the trenches” experience I might just have an inkling of how desperate moms are to find someone who is not going to steal their baby and sell the family cutlery.  But more on that later.

So without too many options left to me, I decided to take matters in to my own hands, and after asking around if anyone knows anyone – I think it is called the “nanny network” I decided to run an advert on gumtree.

I wrote the advert, and placed it.  I DID make a gumtree 101 error, and added my telephone number to the advert.  Shall we just say that was a critical error in judgement.  I decided to switch my phone off for a week, as it was total chaos.

But that being said, I did several telephonic interviews.  I am actually not too sucky at interviewing and getting information: 1. Because I am a bit anal about information.  2.  I have a recruitment background, so that helped.  3: I feel like I have been interviewing “home staff” for about 12 years …..

I did interviews last week – I met the ladies in public places and we did one on one interviews, and I also did not want to put myself in a situation where I would be at risk.  Public places + a bit of caution = win situation.

This weekend I did second interviews, as I wanted Kennith’s opinion, and also wanted his buy in.

It went well.  I liked all three ladies I had shortlisted and I thought that either of the three would be right.

Kennith selected the one I had put in as a bit of an “outside chance” as she had attributes that I thought would be useful, but she was missing a whole host of experienced, but I saw promise in her situation and her manner.

In the end that is who I have offered the position to.  Granted I did say it was on a one month trial.  She arrives late this afternoon, and then we see how it goes from there on in.

I am apprehensive as I start to doubt whether this was a good decision.

I am fraught with worry as I am concerned that the safety of our family does rest to a degree with a person who I only know in principle.

But, I followed a good selection and interview process.  I asked great questions.  I have the correct documentation, and really there is not much else to do but “suck it and see it” and this point, and hope she fits in, and we fit with her, and well everything is Mary Poppins.

Then I watched the start of “The Help” (I had read the book…) and I started to feel a rather large set of “white guilt….” about employing a maid.