First world problem - getting used to having a maid(19 Posts)
So the day finally arrived yesterday, at 8 months pregnant our domestic helper/maid has come to live and work full time.
24 hours in I'm finding it very odd to be told to sit down and relax and have this busy bee run around after me. I'm such an active person and so independent, what tips do those of you used to having a maid have for getting used to it. It just feels so odd to sit about whilst she works.
Please give me some tips on getting used to this or managing this.
Hahaha - the problem that dare not speak its name in 'normal' circles. I suspect most people reading your post are boggling right now.
Honestly, I think you just do. You find a way to make it work for you, which will be different from the way it works for everyone else. Think about things that are your required absolute drop dead limits - that she will do and will not do. For example, I hate food shopping and hate ironing. So above all else, she'll do those. However, anything related to homework or bathing children, I will not allow her to do. Similarly I'm trying to remind my children that no, most people don't live like this, don't have an aunty and one day not too long from now they won't have one either. So, I will not allow her to tidy up their rooms - that's their job. Not surprisingly, the children conspire with her to break that rule a lot.
You will find a way to make it work for you, if she's the right fit for you and if you're the right family for her. Give it a couple of weeks then talk to her like a competent adult (which I'm sure you know isn't the way they often get treated) about how you'd both like it to work.
After 2 years in this working relationship my lasting gripe is that my helper insists on carrying all the damn shopping bags when we go together. We fight over them, I laugh at her and remind her she's not a pack horse but it still makes her uncomfortable when I do it. There are such expectations on both sides!
Yes it's a FWP but nonetheless really tough. For me it goes in waves. After many years, there remain huge cultural differences which I've been unable to bridge. On the one hand, a good chef at home, easy low-cost childcare, reliable. On the other hand, huge duplicity, so weird and frustrating to work with, sometimes really inappropriate for children, constant niggles which seem petty but are extremely stressful. I agree with the above that you need to decide what helps you to delegate: for us, we do breakfast, all bathing and dressing, meal plan, and delegate shopping, housework. I have yet to successfully manage private time/space, communication of what we wish for, and irritating but daily differences about keeping house. For example, for 5 years we dutifully sorted our recycling but she decided to put it all in one bin, and hid that from us. Many examples like that. Yet we continue the employment and it is a big help to us.
My db and sil have a maid where he is posted. She does the housework, washing, ironing, and washes the work car, but db and his wife do the food shopping, the cooking etc.
It seems to work for them. My nephews are both adults in fte in the UK, so child care doesn't come into it. The maid will cat sit when db and sil go out for a day or night.
Don't overthink it right now, things will naturally fall into place around the baby's routine.
Set a basic daily routine ie:
immaculate kitchen after every meal,
Bathrooms, vacum/dust/wet mopping and laundry. It should all be done by mid-day.
Send her on small errands to see How autonomous she is. A trip for groceries should give you an hour or 2 of privacy not see her disappear for hours. Just say that you ecpect her home after your nap to get dinner started or have anything pending like the ironing finished before your dh comes home.
Better gently set high expectation from the word go to avoid later misunderstandings.
From my 10 years in Asia, i have to say that "huge duplicity" is really not the norm, don't worry.
Explain your preferred routine so that when baby is here you can enjoy your babymoon and quiet family evenings while she does her thing.
As an aside, if you are in south east asia, have you thought of a confinement lady? It really is worth it!
You will soon get used to it. If she is experienced, just let her get on with it without micro managing. Don't worry that you are doing nothing, enjoy the rest, she is doing her job. As previous poster said, talk to her like an adult with respect but remember that you aren't mates and she is there to do her job. All madams have different expectations so if you don't need her to wait on you, just say xxx I prefer to get my own cup of coffee etc.
A lot depends on the age of the children (in your case a baby) and how much experience she has.
Our children are older and it was made clear that their bedrooms were absolutely their responsibility and they would still be expected to help out with other tasks as well when asked and she wasn't there just clean up after us.
We have sadly just had to say goodbye to ours after a great two years as my job ended and we couldn't justify the cost any more. There were niggles but she was fantastic (and I've got to start ironing again grrr.)
On the whole she didn't cook unless both DH and I were working when she would rustle up some noodles or pasta for the children. We also gave her a lot of free time (compared to many here) and freedom but she was older and very experienced and we are well aware of many of the issues families face with younger maids here where you have to be more careful.
PM if you would like.
Don't worry it is hard, just let her do her own thing for now and you'll learn overtime what you'd prefer to do your way. It is hard but you'll get used to it and love it soon, trust me, I do! HTH X
Do you need a live in helper? We had a lovely woman live with us for about 3 months, but in the end we just felt it was too much to have someone in our space all the time.
So for the past five years we have had live out help. It works much better for us. We cook (which we like) , our dds do basic chores around the house, but she does most of the cleaning and all the laundry / ironing and various other things.
At times it feels ridiculous that I pay someone to do all these things, but then I remember that I am providing a job for someone and paying them a good wage. And after working all day, I am grateful to not have to come home and do laundry / cook dinner / clean up all the mess the dds have made!
A few new friends and I were talking the other day about this same problem ( we moved to a new country last month) and I realized how comfortable I am with this.
I suggest you do the things that are important to you and enjoy having someone make you tea / cook your dinner / clean your house while you focus on your new baby. Congrats btw.
Relax, as soon as baby arrives you'll quickly adjust to life with the maid (and thank your lucky stars for her)!
Thank you everyone for all your tips and advice, I'm steadily getting used to it. In fact I've asked my husband if he'll marry her so we can bring her wherever we live next
Not had her cook yet, she's been so busy emptying boxes from our move, organising all our belongings, making curtains. Looking forward to fully putting my feet up now - see didn't take me long did it
I'm not sure where you are living OP but through bitter experience i would advise that you don't get too close to your maid. Remember you are her employer not her new friend. It is wise to keep something of a distance between you two, so that boundaries are not crossed and you are not put in uncomfortable situations where you then want to get rid of her.
I would set clear boundaries from the start, explain what you want from her and what you don't. And remember it is your home but her workplace. "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile" is something to always keep in mind, please don't let British colonial guilt turn you into a pushover. And from day one DO NOT LEND MONEY. Not for their dying Aunt or sick nephew. If you do want to give more than the wage then i would advise a Christmas bonus for good work but no other money handouts any other time of the year.
Good advice there Pink, we live in HK and I hear horror stories all the time.
Yes, be careful, we lived in HK for a while too and regularly used to hear horror stories of signatures being forged on loans and debt collectors showing up at door to collect from bosses who were unwitting guarantors for those loans. Especially if the bosses were non- Canto, the loan companies were often fully cognisant and encouraging of this type of fraud. We never got a maid although we could gave easily afforded one and after a few months of constantly being propositioned to take someone's sister/cousin etc, the domestic staff in the building would become quite surly and scornful whenever they saw us as though we were somehow depriving them
OP I would actually disagree with the advice above regarding money lending. The reason helpers go to loan sharks is because their employers won't advance them money for expenses they are incurring at home in Phils. If you are going to trust a woman with your newborn, you can trust her to pay back X amount from her pay each month. We were advised to advance ours money if she asked which she did. Pay her a decent wage, treat her with respect, DON'T joke about your husband marrying her, keep it professional. Let her go back home if you are on holiday and pay for her flights. Happy helper equals happy home.
That's interesting. I do agree about paying fair wages to domestic help but would you ask your own employer for an advance on a regular basis to cover the expenses of your extended family? It's more that many helpers, and the loan companies, see the expat employers as an easy mark.
After 10 years in South Africa I have finally assimilated to the extent I have a cleaner once a fortnight
There have been times I have avoided going home until she's left because I feel bad about doing 'nothing' while she's cleaning up after me and DD... especially as we only have a small 2 bedroom flat... Plus I know I would hate to deal with 'managing' the relationship (I hate staff management at work as well, and this is 10 times worse!)
However, it's lovely having it properly cleaned, and DD and I can keep it comfortably cleanish in between. She is very experienced, found us through friend of a friend, wants the work, and now I am back at work has a key and let's herself in and just gets on with it.
But I still feel a little bit lazy!
Do you need a live in helper?
The OP lives in HK so live out is illegal and although some people do it, if they saw where their helper is typically living, I think they'd have second thoughts. Live in is usually a better option for the helper. This is one of those issues where well meaning white people keep advocating for something that the FDH's don't even want.
it is your home but her workplace.
It's also her home
would you ask your own employer for an advance on a regular basis
No, but I'm not financially disenfranchised- helpers can barely get a simple bank account in HK, never mind any type of credit. The loans sharks are on them as soon as they go into the recruitment agencies in the Philippines/Indonesia to sign up (most start work owing HK$10-20k) and if they miss them there they wait at the airport for them to come through. Many just end up in a cycle, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. I'd rather lend her money interest free.
I also live in HK. Yes, there are "bad" stories, but you tend to hear the same horror stories multiple times and often it's "a friend of a friend". The system is rotten, but there are signs of improvement- there's a new agency "Fair Employment Agency" which is a non-profit and doesn't charge the helper any fees. Another big agency got closed down for charging excessive fees, so seems like the government is getting more serious about enforcing that. A couple of the other non-profits are doing some good work providing financial literacy training and advocacy work. I'm cautiously optimistic.
I have made loans. My rule is only one loan at a time, and it comes out of salary each month. It's usually for lump sum costs like Uni fees for her kids. The occasional investment for the farm etc. Because I do that, I then feel justified in saying that if I get loan sharks calling at the house, that's a sacking offence.
It is a difficult line. There seem to be to extremes in the endless FB bun fights about them - "pay min wage, don't lend money, give her 14 days every 2 years and that's it- they're all thieves and liars" and "give her all your money and don't make her do anything because she's from a poor country". The truth is actually very individual and usually quite complex. You kind of just have to use your judgement.
KeyserSophie is right. If my helper has had a fraction of the advantages I have had she wouldn't be in the position she is in. As such I consider it my responsibility to help and advise her in regards to finances. This woman lives in my house and takes care of my family - I want her to feel secure and happy.
And OP - right now you are 8 months pregnant. Your job is to rest and take care of yourself! Once the baby is a couple of months old and you're back in the swing of things you certainly don't need to sit around while someone else does all the work, and it sounds like you're not the sort of person who would do that anyway. I figure that I have a helper because it's too much for me to do by myself, so I don't expect her to do it all either. She mostly takes care of the cleaning and housework and I mostly do cooking and childcare. It evolves over time - since I went back to work she does a bit more childcare and occasionally cooks, but we adjusted her salary to reflect that.
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