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Monday, 4 January 2016

House Helps;Can't live with them;can't live without them?

Speaking from a man's point of view. I’m glad the DM is back! *Does Happy Dance* Allow me to explain before you think I’m happy for some sinister reasons. You see, my better half ‘released’ the DM (Pause..for those not in the know..a DM is a Domestic certain quarters, they’re called Househelps,Maids or Mboches if you prefer street lingo..) 
The Domestic Manager (DM).

*unpause* ....on 4th December 2015.This ‘release’ was necessitated by default since her brother passed away and humanely it was naturally thought wise for her to travel to Western Kenya to console with the family. She was paid her November and December pay upfront in good faith that she will return in January after spending the holiday with her loved ones. In another show of good faith and most probably in a bid to lure her to come back, her fare to Western Kenya was paid for her and a Ksh 2,000 shopping and an assortment of baby clothes that our kids had overgrown were neatly packed in a paper bag for her to hand over to her kids who are much younger than ours.At 5am on December 4th she was escorted to the bus termini and she set forth for “ingo”. (upcountry)
With the DM gone, we had to undertake a few adjustments in normal house duties. With two demanding kids-both under 5yrs-we had to put our minds together to see how this was to be done, this not withstanding that we both had demanding careers and not yet on leave until mid December when i would be on official leave. At first we thought this would be as easy as a walk in the park type of thing. For the first  1 week it was actually. We managed to juggle the chores with wifey waking up at 5am, preparing breakfast and the older kid to go to school, cleaning up the house and arranging essentials (diapers,food,snacks,change of clothes, potty etc) for the smaller baby whom we then dropped off at a daycare on our way to work. She was then to be picked in the evening as we came from work. This meant one of us had to leave (hepa) work earlier than normal time.Whichever of us arrived first at the house would then clean up the babies, supervise homework, make supper, clean the dishes, put the kids to bed and any other matters arising. I must admit all these were done flawlessly and in a show of gratitude I enjoyed gratifying conjugal favors for work well done. *winks*

For some reason I thought this routine would last for the one month that the DM was away. I mean heck what more motivation would a man want than acknowledgement of good work and gratifying coitus?This is the life; I thought to myself. I was so wrong for getting way ahead of myself with such thoughts. By the second week I started feeling the toll of this routine work. It was not only wearing down on me but on my wife too. Considering that on most nights we used to retire to bed way past midnight and wake up to go to work at 5am.My mind was on a breaking point as I tried to juggle being a fatherly home maker by night & a hard working man in my superiors eyes during the day. I longed for those evenings with the boys at the locals sipping White Cap over Lingala Music in the background. I missed playing pool and ‘ruling’ the table to the chagrin of most wannabe pool players. I missed watching Prime Time News on TV with my feet outstretched waiting for my food to be delivered as I played with the kids. I missed those quiet moments I used to spend in the sitting room thinking about life in general as everyone else went to sleep. My whole framework was breaking down because of routine house duties.

To my reprieve, my leave started on 18th December 2015 and at least I could get some time off. The arrangement changed henceforth; I now became a day father and converted my house to a “daddy day-care.”It turned out to be quality time spent with the kids. It was much easier this way. Preparing their breakfast at 8am when they woke up, engaging them in performing house duties; albeit lighter ones for them., washing their clothes, giving them fruits and milk/yorghurt at 11am,preparing lunch, making sure they drunk water after that, bathing them, putting them to sleep at 2pm.Allowing them to play with other kids in the court when they wake up. By the time I was done it was 6pm and their mum was home to take up the baton for the evening program. Atleast with this new arrangement I was able to kick off my shooes and relax my feet, watch news on TV/a movie at times and spend quality time with Wifey.In certain instances to show her satisfaction and gratitude I was given a free pass to catch up with the boys for a drink or two, watch EPL etc.

Christmas came and went. We had a great time away from the confines of our house. Just as a feel good,we went to an exquisite holiday destination where we were pampered and forgot the monotony of house work until the new year.Believe me,I relished each moment.However, as we savored good food, drinks and ambience of our holiday getaway, my wife was quietly apprehensive over the DM’s return back from “ingo”.You see over the years we have had and heard of experiences from friends whose DMs chose not to come back after the December Holiday. Most of them floated reasons for them not returning ranging from lack of fare back, getting married, being too sick to come back, their folks have refused, wanting a raise, too tired. Some conveniently disappear as either their phones go unanswered or simply went “mteja” just to mention but a few. I noted her apprehension and assured her that we have done the best for the DM and treated her well over the years and if she was grateful for this, she would come back. Her apprehension was because she didn’t want to go through the elaborate and rigorous work of training a new DM on the nitty gritties of running her household. It’s demanding; she says. I concur.
So, you can now you can understand the delight over the DM’s return 2 days after the new year.Even more delighted was wifey.The relieve she had is shared across most households in this country i am sure.See,I have learnt lessons over the holidays. These people (DMs) really live up to that name; Domestic Managers. We need to respect this as a profession not just a mere low-life job like most people deem it. They work hard and long into the night to make us comfortable.Respect their work because you cannot last a full year doing what they do despite your constant  bickering (wives and a few fussy husbands).Treat them like professionals they will love their work and give it their all. When their time comes to leave, just like you getting greener pastures at your work place, they will cut strings professionally and not abscond.
Househelp is a profession.Respect It.

It is a new year, life as it is will resume normalcy as we return to work in January and the pressures of the month. Challenge yourselves (wives) to do things differently. Get NHIF for your DMs if you have to, treat them like the humans they are. They deserve it. If you loathe them, they will loathe you back in equal measure if not more . Such is life. Can I get an Amen?

The Scribe rests his pen…


  1. Most families with young children in other countries like the USA have never had the so called DM. We need to wean ourselves from needing them when the kids grow older. Nice piece though. Times are changing, most of my lady relas and friends now saying they don't have one.

  2. Most families with young children in other countries like the USA have never had the so called DM. We need to wean ourselves from needing them when the kids grow older. Nice piece though. Times are changing, most of my lady relas and friends now saying they don't have one.