Inviting someone into your home and leaving them to take care of your children takes some getting used to. Whereas a family in London, Paris or Amsterdam expects to grit its teeth and get on with the job of looking after itself, the norm in Doha is slightly different. Here, the availability and relative affordability of maids and other forms of domestic help mean that bringing in extra assistance from outside the family unit is normal, however alien it feels to begin with. But for those of us who are used to state-inspected childminders and nurseries taking care of our children, finding and trusting a nanny can seem like a daunting process.
Fundamentally, there are two ways of hiring a nanny. You can either decide to go through an agency or recruit one yourself. Both have their pros and cons but here is a quick summary of the basic calculations.
The agency route
Simply put, going through an agency takes the hassle out of the process. The visa requirements and other legal considerations are sorted out before the nanny gets anywhere near your children. Additionally, the lady (they are all ladies) to whom your offspring are entrusted has theoretically had her references checked and suitability vetted. Somebody will generally be found and your only real involvement in the process is financial. Using an agency is a pain free way of ensuring that you have someone there and, should your regular nanny be ill, a substitute will be sent. A Google search will furnish you with no shortage of agencies that are eager to provide you with a custodian of children and help you with domestic chores as well.
But there are clearly some drawbacks to this approach. Firstly, your pool of possible nannies is limited to those who are still available after the agency has taken its cut from what you are prepared to pay. Agency fees vary, but can be substantial. Furthermore, because agencies often recruit staff in bulk from overseas, it can be difficult to assess the depth of the background checks which they undertake. Depending on the jurisdiction in which these checks took place, they may be less rigorous than you would like.
The self hire route
If you are uncomfortable with the idea of a nanny from an agency, you can take responsibility for recruiting someone yourself. Word of mouth is best but, failing that, an advert on Qatar Living will ensure respondents are literate. Trite as it may sound, the key things are to trust your instincts and be honest and open about what you expect. It is also important to treat potential candidates with respect. Don’t forget how much childcare costs in other countries and offer to pay for holidays, etc. Finally, investigate references. You may need to become your new nanny’s sponsor for immigration purposes, which will mean that your stay in Qatar becomes legally entwined with theirs, meaning they leave when you leave.
Given the hassle, why bother recruiting a nanny yourself? To twist the proverb slightly, with greater responsibility comes greater power. Should you think that your children would benefit from being cared for by someone whose command of English (or French or German, etc) enables them to read stories in that language, you can ensure that you recruit someone with those skills.
Should you require the person taking care of your baby to have a command of basic first aid, you can contact one of the organisations like www.theotherhand.info to be put in touch with appropriate training providers and/or courses. By actively exercising your right to choose, you can make sure that you choose right.
Agencies and self-hire
Locally, there is Qatar Maid Service www.qatarmaidservice.com (4441 3462); or Al Hadeel www.al-hadeel-manpower.webs.com (3345 3306). Internationally, visit Almondbury Care International www.aupair-agency.com/Filipino-Nannies-For-Qatar.htm; or Simply Angelic www.simplyangelic.co.uk/Qatar_Nanny; firstname.lastname@example.org (971 (0) 4214 9783). For self hire, these websites come in use: www.qatarliving.com; www.theotherhand.info.