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Mum & Parenting

Surviving in women’s world

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From time immemorial, men, in a typical African society, are known for taking tougher jobs due to the responsibility they are saddled with, while women take the less tough jobs like subsistence farming, cooking, and laundry work. However, the tune seems to have changed, as a good number of men are now treading where women are supposed to be. They are now seen dominating the centre stage of women’s job role like catering, hair-making, frying bean-cake e.t.c. Emmanuella Lekwauwa writes

 

The rising unemployment rate, perhaps forced many men, mostly graduates to embrace different vocations aside white-collar jobs. They now venture into vocations that were aforetime presumed as female jobs.
One of such men is an executive chef of a hotel, located somewhere in Ikeja, Mr. Raymond Alabi.
Alabi, who moved into catering due to his passion for cooking, said he studied Sociology at the university and later enrolled into a catering school to acquire the needed skill. He averred that his passion for cooking led him to the hospitality industry since 1989 even before he enrolled to study Sociology. “As matter of fact, I have gone through all kinds of training in hotel management. I am also a hotel consultant and manager. I know that the job of a chef goes beyond mere cooking. It involves knowledge of continental and local dishes, and being good administrator who can manage the kitchen.”
He described catering business in Nigeria as lucrative, that the only shortcoming he had discovered in his career was the difficulty he had in convincing big companies to award contracts to male caterers, “However, my clients have since become convinced of my capability because of the quality of my services and cooking skill,” he said.
Alabi asserted that men are now taking over the chef works in most Lagos hotels. This is because, “men have more energy and time than their female counterparts. And this is because women have more demands, beginning from the home front.”
Another male caterer, Mr Oluwasesan Olaibo, who works with a catering firm in Onipanu, area of Lagos state, for almost a year now, said that most aspects of catering service deal with a lot of cooking and requires a lot of energy. Before now, Olaibo had been into screen-printing for seven years, but later opted out of that business because of low turnout of customers and poor income.
Speaking on what led him into the trade, he said that he went into catering because of finance. He averred that he had not really wanted catering as a profession but after his Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in 2014 he went into catering to raise money to obtain the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) form and to sponsor himself in the higher institution.
Another caterer at Ibile Foods and lounge, Ilupeju bypass, Lagos, who simply identified himself as James, said that men going into catering business tend to do so carefully to avoid refusal of which could lead to loss of customers.
“As a caterer, who has been privileged to work in various organizations, I had to learn how to prepare local and continental dishes of different tribes and countries. This makes one exceptional in the business.”
He stated that most organizations employ male caterers based on their house policy and previous experiences with female caterers though; there is the challenge of getting clients convinced on the efficiency of male caterers.
James said that he realized the lucrative aspect of the business while working at a hotel where he discovered that only men were allowed to do the cooking, while ladies serve drinks and attend to customers.
Smiling, he said: “Men are putting more time into catering than women. When you go to restaurants, you will notice that ladies like it when men attend to them. Most ladies used to beckon on me serve.”
Another caterer, Mr. Tobi Davis, who works at a branch of Sweet Sensation, a popular eatery had been into catering business for four years. He disclosed that he ventured into catering business because of his keen interest in cooking. Davis said: ‘It amazes people when they see how well a male caterer handles cooking. People are eager to see how well a man can cook and bake pastries, amongst others.” Davis said that before now, when it comes to catering and other skills, people always look at the direction of women. He said that things have since changed in the 21st century. He said that men joined the moving train and were performing beyond expectations. “Not all women can make sausage rolls. In preparing snacks, men take the prize because of the difficulty involved in handling the machine.”
He complained that the socio-economic situation in Nigeria was influencing negatively on catering business and urged the government to encourage male caterers. He said that there are set of young people who are motivated by what is happening in the catering industry. “The most important thing is interest. For instance, not all graduates would be opportune to work with his/her certificate.”
Another caterer, Mr. Kenneth Agbamuche, working with Sweet Sensation, around Ketu/Ikosi area of Lagos, believes that catering has a lot to do with passion and claims that men are the best in whatever profession. He described himself as coming from a family of caterers. According to Agbamuche, he had been into catering business for 18 years and still counting. He learnt the trade from his late mother, because of his interest in the trade. “Besides, my elder brother is a chef at Eko Hotel, while my two other siblings are also caterers in other reputable companies. Passion is what brings out the best in a thing. Without it, you will not be able to accomplish your mission. Catering job is sensitive. It’s like hospitality in the sense that you are giving out life to people. It’s all about food and it has to be tasty.”
He stated further that if he had his own restaurant, he will employ male caterers who will assist in serving the guests. According to him, many men are working in big hotels, than eateries and fast food joints. This is because the way the fast food joints operate is different from the hotel. The male professionals are better than the female in the area of cooking.
Mr. Amadi Uche, who works with catering firm, shared his experience in the field. He said that having worked with the catering firm for more than four years; he had come to understand that catering is something young men can venture into because it is something that gives the opportunity to do other things. According to him, “catering goes beyond preparing local dishes because one has to also learn how to prepare other meals. In catering business, men are preferred because they are focused and disciplined. And when it comes to working, they are not easily distracted.”

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Mum & Parenting

Letter to mom on valentine’s day

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I found this piece of love note written by Sarah Skinner to her mom ( of blessed memory). She says, “Love from mom is one of the best things a girl can ever have.” I hope this little piece inspires us to build loving relationships with our daughters – our kids. Enjoy!

Dear Mom,
Happy Valentine’s Day! I just wanted to let you know that no matter how old I get, I won’t stop finding special ways to let you know how much I love you, and I will try my best to get especially creative on holidays such as these. Some people find the excess of candy and stuffed animals that fill the stores this time of year annoying, but we’ve always enjoyed the displays. Hell will surely freeze over before the day comes that one of those adorable teddy bears won’t be purchased as a “just because” gift. How can someone not be happy with something soft to hug?

There’s always a lot of bitterness that is floating around during this time of year, especially about relationship status. I think many people must have forgotten the days of childhood when Valentine’s Day was a day we all showed our classmates a little love, indiscriminately. No doubt, it is a great feeling to have a romantic Valentine, but there is so much more to love than just the romantic aspects of it.

I’d like to take the time to thank you, mom — to thank you for letting me know what it feels like to be unconditionally loved. Your love has served as my rock for as long as I can remember, keeping me grounded and giving me the confidence I needed to shoot for the stars. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, you help me see the situation from a different (and more manageable) perspective. Whenever I’m feeling vulnerable, you remind me of my value. No matter what holes I’ve managed to fall into, you’ve always helped me see the light and find the strength to climb out.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you are a cheerleader who always tells me what I want to hear; you will tell it like it is, and you are always honest with me. If you don’t have a good feeling about a guy I’m with, you won’t hesitate to tell me. But, when that same guy stands me up on a date, you won’t mock me with an “I told you so,” but rather, you will greet me with a “you look too good not to go somewhere.” Knowing what it feels like to be loved like that is an indescribably beautiful experience. You showed me the correct way someone is supposed to be loved.

I remember when we first started watching “Gilmore Girls” together. Man, was that our show. What made it comical was how similar our relationship was to that portrayed in the show. Everyone else in our lives saw it too. I’m able to (and want to) tell you everything because I know you never judge me and you always find a way to help me understand my life a bit better.

We hang out a lot because we always find a way to have an awesome time together and the conversations between us never cease.
A relationship like that comes once in a life time and our bond has never been out of any sort of blood obligation. If I had the choice of who my mother would be, I would choose you a million times over. I am thankful for our relationship, and I will never be too old to give you a Valentine’s Day shout out.

With love,
Sarah.

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Mum & Parenting

As a mum, do you hand up or handout?

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Children are born naturally desiring to have all their needs met, all the time. When a child cries we ask, ‘What do you want?” and they are always so glad to tell us to go get the moon, and minutes later they have had enough of it and want something else. Kelly Nault is one of the mums who have inspired me with her ideas on good parenting. She co-parented two blind brothers for seven years. When describing them she often stated that when they weren’t bouncing off the walls, they were literally pounding on them and no one would work with them.

They both had a deep sense of entitlement – a sense of “I am blind so therefore everyone should serve me” and many people would due to their physical disability. People felt sorry for them and would give them handouts for no reason other than their blindness.

The owner of a corner store in the neighbourhood, for example, would refuse to take the boys’ money and instead gave them their candy for free! This entitlement mentality ran deep in both of them (as it does in many children today) and affected everything and everyone around them.

I will share the rest of the story in Kelly’s own words: ‘While at the skating rink one day, Grant (the youngest) refused to take his skates off by himself. He cried that he just couldn’t do it (even though I had seen him do it before). Frustrated, I encouraged him as best I could, and then left him alone to sulk as I went to take off my own skates. No sooner had I turned my back than the rink manager appeared and started to take Grant’s skates off for him. I could tell by the smirk on Grant’s face that he was pleased with this arrangement.

Quickly, I walked up to the rink manager and said, “I know you want to help Grant and I am sure he appreciates it. But the best way you can help him is to help him help HIMSELF so he can learn how to take his skates off. There might not always be someone around to help and, therefore, it is important for him to learn how to do it on his own.”

The rink manager shrugged, gave up and walked away. Grant finally did take his skates off…after a painful 35 minutes! We left the rink that day and the memory of this frustrating event faded from mind. But unbeknownst to me, this memory stuck with Grant.

Over a year later Grant said to me, “Remember how that guy at the skating rink didn’t think I could take my skates off ?” I slowly remembered. He continued, “Well, a lot of people don’t think I can do very much on my own because I am blind.” To which I smiled and replied, “Yes, but we both know better don’t we? And I can’t think of anyone better than you to teach the people just how capable you truly are.”

You may find that it is just easier to do things for your family than to fight about it or to see that it just doesn’t get done. As moms, we are generally quicker, cleaner and don’t protest to doing those simple tasks! Yet, I have learned the hard way that the ONLY way to build ANY child’s self-esteem is to help them feel capable – to give them more responsibility. So they don’t end up always looking for what they can TAKE, rather than what they can GIVE.

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Mum & Parenting

Necessary checks for domestic staff

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A working mom would always need a helping hand and most time we open our doors to total strangers because our family and friends are not always available to give us the kind of help we need – ‘necessary evils’ we call them. I have had my own fair share of keeping strangers in my home; most were experiences I would rather not recount.
A colleague who is a single mom needed to engage someone to pick up her kid from school and stay with her till she gets back from work. A few phone calls and a young girl was brought to her and in just two days the girl had to leave and that same day another was brought to replace her.
I couldn’t help but think how we all just bring in strangers to our homes and then heave a sigh of relief – we finally have ‘help’ and can now focus on making money. But is that really the case? I found this list of things to consider when we need to take in a stranger as help in our homes. It is never late to apply this even for those already working for us:
How safe are you with that nanny, maid, steward, cook, security guards, driver, lesson teacher, etc, whether at home or in the office?
We get domestic staff from agents, but do we bother to check where the agents live or what job they do? Do we ever revisit the addresses provided or call to see if there has been a change of address or phone numbers?
Did we register the maid, drivers, nannies etc, we keep in our homes with relevant agencies? Do we even have their photos?
Do you know that your cook, nanny, driver, steward, maid, day care caregivers or home lesson teacher etc, could have a disease? Do we even conduct medical tests for them before we employ them?
Do you know that your driver could be a wanted person by the police in another state for theft or kidnapping? Have you done a check on him with the police with a photo of him?
Has it ever crossed your mind that your security guard could even be a foreigner from neighboring countries such as Niger, Chad and Benin Republic? How do you confirm that? And if he is a foreigner, is he registered by the requisite agencies and eligible to work in the country?
Do you talk about money, your business transactions or cost of your jewelleries and other valuables in the presence of your domestic staff? You might be giving them ideas on how to get money from you and even inform others who could attack you.
Do not allow your domestic staff tidy up your room when you are not there. It could be an opportunity to search your room to know where your valuables are kept and then plan for the right time to operate and run away or even inform outsiders to carry out the operation.
Your domestic staff shouldn’t know all your movement and routines. Go home earlier than normal or leave for work later than usual once in a while. That’s the way to find out what goes on when you are not around.
Don’t allow your daughters get too familiar with your male domestic staff. We should also let our children know that our domestic staffs are not our relatives so our children would not feel obliged to cover up something they should call our attention to.
Don’t wait, do the necessary checks. Let’s keep our families safe.

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