A ninth case of a maid falling from high floors due to cleaning windows at Serangoon North has been reported on Thursday. Whenever I read such news, I am wondering isn’t it the duties and the responsibilities of the employer to provide a safe environment for their helpers to work in. I call my maids my helpers because they are helping me to take care of my 2 children, clean up my house and make sure everything in my house is in order.
My husband and I are able to focus on our work because my helpers really love my children and look after them well. My helper, Siti, will teach Caden the alphabets and numbers. She will revise his homework with him at my orders. She also looks after Caden’s welfare and make sure he wakes up on time, has his snack box and water bottle in his school bag and also prepares our breakfast. My other maid called Aminaton, is Charles’ nanny. She sleeps with Charles, wakes up in the middle of the night to feed Charles milk and look after and plays with him whenever he is awake. She also cleans him and then put him to sleep.
Mark and I calculated the cost of employing 2 maids versus sending Caden to a good full-day childcare (I was aiming at Pat’s Schoolhouse at Lim Ah Pin Road), but we decided against it because the costs were high as well. For us, because Caden is a super slow and picky eater and he is very underweight, he needs someone to watch over him and to encourage him to try different foods. With a class of 8 to 10 children, the teacher might not be able to give Caden the attention he needs when it comes to feeding. If you do not know by now, Caden is a skinny boy, who is a fussy eater and has a reflux problem which has been quite stable for the past few months. Thus, we put in a lot of love and effort to make sure that Caden gets the best environment to learn and to grow in. He gets everything organic and Charles just gets the normal Neslac, Heinz and Gerber foods which I could get at NTUC and I think they are excellent products and Charles LOVES THEM, especially Banana from Gerber.
I try to treat my helpers well. I give them a Singtel Hello S$10 calling card home every month and encourage them to call home so that they won’t be homesick. I also encourage them to learn English and teach us Bahasa Indonesian in return. My mom does marketing and makes sure she buys chicken meat for my 2 helpers for protein and food. I also provide my maid with Vitamin C to improve their immune system. In Singapore, a helper is a need, especially if both parents are working. And if you have 2 kids and not working, you should still get a helper to assist you with household chores. It is very tiring taking care of 2 young children without any help.
I am glad that I have my helpers to take care of my children and also to take care of my household. It is the employer’s responsibility to choose and train your helper. You must have effective communication with your helper. She must understand your expectations and if she doesn’t, show her how it should be done.
Both my helpers have experience working in Singapore and in Jakarta before. Before you choose your helper, make sure you look through her CV. It is encouraged that you have a telephone interview and then a face-to-face interview with your helper before you employ her. Do not just rely on the maid agency for recommendation or advice but to trust your own judgement when you interview your helpers. I wanted my helpers from Indonesia and to be able to communicate in English and have taken care of children before. So with these conditions in mind, I went in search of my helpers. You must go to a trusted agency and I am so blessed that my friend opened a maid agency called Thumbs-Up Employment Agency. The 2 helpers whom I got from Thumbs-Up so far have performed very well.
Another thing is that you must take time to train your helper. You cannot expect your helper to know everything without telling them what you want. They cannot read your mind and neither can you read theirs. Communication is the key to establishing a good and long working relationship. For me, I dislike changing helpers because it would mean that I have to train my helper all over again. I try to talk to my helpers nicely because they are human being with emotions. Kindly remember that we are paying them a meager salary to do all your housework, iron your clothes, feed your children and then prepare your meals. This is too much work. Which Singaporean or Malaysian would do it for S$400 or S$450 per month? Of course, you can say that their lives are good here as compared to what they have in their home countries but they are still human beings with emotions and they deserve our respect. I have come across a helper whose employer has given her nothing to eat. She kept begging my helper to give her Maggi noodles because she was so hungry.
On the hindsight, there are also poor helpers who really do not want to work domestically. I have also seen helpers in super short denims, long silky hair and I can see their butt cheeks clearly. In one arm, the helper was carrying a baby and in the other arm, she was happily messaging away. Once, there was a couple who was at the emergency room in a hospital frantically look for their maid who was sent in due to heavy bleeding. The helper had to be operated immediately and the couple couldn’t understand why. In the end, the Nurse Manager had to break the news to them that their helper had an ectopic pregnancy which required immediate surgery.
There are many perils to having an extra person at home but there are so many good points in getting domestic help. Take my advice, start jotting down why you need a maid. Then ask yourself if you are comfortable having another person who is neither your kin nor kith living with you. Jot down what you need in a maid, and if you want her to be younger or older and married. In my humble opinion, maturity in a maid is very important. I prefer older maids who are married with children.
Go through your network of friends and seek a reliable maid agency that you can trust. Go through the CV of each maid carefully with your criteria. Ask for a phone interview and also a web-cam interview. If she is a transfer maid, ask for a face-to-face interview.
After the helper arrives, please talk to her about your expectations. Please train her and let her have at least 8 weeks to get up to speed with things. If your maid speaks little English and she does not know our language, then it would be a big problem. So it is important to choose a helper who can speak fluent English. Those who have experience working in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore, would be able to speak English though they demand a higher pay.
I am happy with my 2 helpers. They provide me with the domestic help that I need with my 2 children and the household chores and I provide them with the basic necessities and salaries they need to make their lives comfortable during their stay with my family. They have become my family too.