Ah. What are you still thinking about? If you can’t list at least three reasons off the top of your head about why you should not be leaving your child in the hands of Nigerian babysitters, nannies, house-helps or strangers, then are you sure you should even be called a Nigerian?

Aren’t you aware of “what’s up” in Nigeria? Abi you don’t know about witches, wizards and kidnappers that are very rampant depending on the area you live in this country? Let us tell you the truth; one Nigerian to another? Nor be lie. Who’s that parent that can’t take care of their own child sef? I mean how e wan hard reach?

When it comes to the subject of babysitters, nannies and house-helps, the typical Nigerian is quick and eager to renounce any dealings with this group of persons. Why will they? They watch and read the news; they aren’t ignorant of the “increasing crime rate” of leaving their children home alone with a “stranger”.

Ehn, it’s finally time for our list!

Common Reasons Why Nigerians Don’t Hire Nigerian Babysitters

Babysitters engaging kids in play
Credit: globalnews.ca

1. Differences in Parenting Styles

If this list was arranged in descending order, then differences in parenting styles wouldn’t be sitting too comfy here. When anyone especially family members serves as your sitter, you open yourself up to having your parenting style challenged. You may not yell at your child but grandpa does. You may not allow your children to stay up late but cousin Yinka does. Whichever family member you leave your kids with may not agree with how you choose to parent, and that can be thrown in your face if not addressed upfront.

And those are persons that are familiar with your parenting style. Is a babysitter different? Yes! While you can always have a conversation with “family” that you aren’t comfortable with their parenting style, you don’t have much control. If your family refuses to listen to you, then you either accept what they give or stop leaving your child in their care.

Hiring a babysitter gives you more control. Before hiring, these are things that are usually addressed and if you aren’t convinced of how well your children will be in their care, you get to walk away. And find someone else.

2. Fear of Witch-Craft Initiation – The Preferred No. 1 Reason

There are witches everywhere and a good percentage of Nigerian babysitters are witches whose sole mission is to turn your sweet little innocent child into a witch. But aren’t you just being really superstitious? Why will witches leave a profession like working in a daycare centre that offers them more kids, more time and more opportunities for initiation and go with babysitting?

Or are nursery teachers witches as well? What about those women who sell snacks in the school premises? We’ve all heard at least one witchery tale about them, yet, we didn’t stop our children from buying from them. Are Naija babysitters really witches, how many have you seen? Wait o, how many babysitters have you even met?

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3. Babysitters Are Too Expensive

We’re Nigerians and we like free things and services. And that’s why we would rather call a younger sibling or relative to come care of the child. Last last, you go pay for her transport! Caring for a child isn’t easy, not even if it’s for 2 hours – e hard and parents dey try.

Before you call a babysitter expensive, picture yourself being one and sincerely tell us how much you think is a fair service fee.

4. I Need a God-fearing Babysitter

So, you have learnt how to worship the Nigerian God but you want to take it a step further and serve Him more fully. You need to find a God-fearing babysitter. Are you surprised? Some Nigerian parents will not hire you if you aren’t a Christian. I once got a home tutoring job because I was a Christian not because of my teaching skill.

If home tutors aren’t spared, then why will babysitters who are “witches” be? So as a baby sitter, dress well and act well. Know how to quote the Bible. And you will be in the green zone. Moreover, Christian babysitters aren’t that hard to find if you’re looking well.

5. It’s Hard to Trust Strangers

We get this, it’s hard for us too. Why on earth would we trust a total stranger or give them the benefits of the doubt? Because sometimes, our body dey carry the person – gut feeling. But, no one said a babysitter always had to be a stranger.

If they are, then, even more need to do a little bit of background check, do a referral check, who/what are they like on social media, pray and do the physical interview. You have control over who to hire so hire the right person. Sha don’t rush the process and don’t hire if you have doubts.

6. Increasing Risk of Abuse and Crime

The most common form of child abuse is neglect, which is followed closely by physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse. As of 2018, a study revealed that 76% of child abuse perpetrators were a parent to the abused child. Point is, you should be warier of family and friends. But how does one avoid this?

When hiring a babysitter, it is important that you just don’t hire anyone. Ask questions about the babysitter, clear every doubt you have, ask for referrals, background check, or to make things easier, hire from a reputable babysitting agency.

A good agency will leave no stone unturned in this aspect. But they won’t do much to allay your gut feeling, hence why we recommend that you always conduct a physical interview before hiring. Please ask practical questions!

Perhaps, it’s fitting to see some Nigerians paranoid about sitters maltreating their children especially since that’s what they do to other children in their care. Nigerians treat house-helps meanly hence expect that everyone will treat their kids meanly.

Check the news – there’s always a case of a woman or man abusing their house-help which are most likely children. Babysitters aren’t house-helps and you shouldn’t even take in a child as a house-help – it’s child abuse.

7. You Want Your Baby All to Yourself: Fear of Baby Getting too Attached to The Babysitter

This isn’t a reason we hear too often but it still counts. Most parents will not hire a babysitter or nanny because they fear that their child might get more attached to the babysitter. This is only a cause of concern if the babysitter is hired on a very regular basis. However, this seldom happens because sitters are less invested (unlike nannies) in the child’s overall care.

What to do? Make out time to bond with your child. Do not relegate everything that has to do with your child to either a sitter or nanny. Be involved in their life and wellbeing, no matter how busy you are. Always find the time.

8. Lack of Proper Registration and Governing Bodies in Nigeria

Nigerian babysitters aren’t registered unless they work for an agency, and so you can have access to their profile and records. A good agency will go as far as conducting a professional background check on all their sitters. Many babysitters are neighbourhood babysitters and could even be an older teen. Hence, do not associate with any agency.

If you want a professional babysitter, then hire one from an agency although a few neighbourly babysitters are professionals with a certificate in a child training course to show for it.

PS: The Nigerian constitution does not clearly differentiate between a nanny and a babysitter. We personally want the government to do better too.

Who are Nigerian Babysitters?

Everyone surely doesn’t qualify as a babysitter but in one way or the other, most of us have served as one. If you’ve ever had to watch over a child, then congratulations, you’ve served as a babysitter. A babysitter is a person (male or female) who watches over a child for a specified period for time and gets paid.

The term babysitter is American while childminder is British English and they are definitely different from a nanny. A nanny unlike a babysitter is more invested in the child’s life and even provide housework services as well. Nannies aren’t short term caretakers like sitters, in fact, they practically become a part of the family.

Babysitters are usually older teens, youths and young adults whereas nannies are usually older women.

PS: The line between a nanny and babysitter often blurs out but generally, you can always tell a sitter from a nanny using their job descriptions and the number of hours they work.

Negative narratives take time to change. It’s perfectly okay to not have a sitter but it’s not okay if you spread damaging narratives about them. Nigerian babysitters aren’t witches, criminals or {fill in the missing word}. Need one? Then hire one. Besides, Nigerians are often quick to say only working mums with oyibo mentality naim dey hire babysitters.

If you aren’t convinced that there’s nothing really terrible about hiring the services of a secondary caregiver such as babysitters, then it’s cool. We understand that there are 3 people we cannot convince in life:

  1. Those who call Akara bean-cake.
  2. A Chelsea fan who lost a match.
  3. Fill in the last one in the comment section.
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                                                    Henry Nzekwue & Naga Odigie

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