Maid Issues

Managing the Helper

As promised, I’m going to share with you some important rules in managing our helper (foreign domestic worker) based on my two years of experience. If you intend to hire one, please take some time to read this post. I hope it will be beneficial to you.

Having a total stranger living with us for an extended period of time requires careful management. House rules and reasonable terms of employment are crucial to make our house a favorable workplace for her. It worth every effort to make our relationship works. Simply put, we want things to be formal, I’m the employer and she is the employee but we also want her to feel like part of our family and to be cared about.

First of all, let’s talk about the security. I do not allow my helper to handle the house keys and cash. I lock the door and keep the keys before I go to sleep at night. This is to reduce the risk of her running away or sneaking out at night. But of course, if she has the intention to run away, she can do that anytime during the day. In terms of money, we deposit her salary into her bank account. We provide her with daily necessities, so she doesn’t have to buy them. We don’t have to worry about her stealing money from home.

Secondly, we give her a clear job description and responsibilities. She should know how to prioritize her works and do things on her own initiatives. Her main responsibility is to take care of Little Edison, followed by general house chores which we categorize into the daily, weekly and monthly buckets. Most importantly, the amount of works must be reasonable. If she has too much to do, she may not be able to provide the quality care to Little Edison.

Thirdly, we enforce strict discipline at home. No lying, no stealing, no watching TV on her own, cannot leave the house without permission, no gossiping with the neighbors’ maids, etc. I understand that mistakes are sometimes unavoidable, but she must be candid about her mistakes. Especially in taking care of an active toddler who is prone to bumps and falls, she must report all the accidents to us.

Forth is mutual respect for each other. Our helper came from a different country, with some religious and cultural differences that we need to accommodate. She doesn’t eat pork, thus we have to prepare her meals separately. We allow her to do her prayers in her room at night, but we prohibit the Ramadan fasting. Reason being we’re concerned that it may affect her work and health. We will try to accommodate, but if we can’t, we have to make our position firm.

And finally, trust our own instincts. A good maid agency doesn’t guarantee a good maid. The profiles given by the maid agencies may not be exactly true. I would say that it’s really a matter of luck in searching for a good helper. During the employment, if we feel that we have to reject the helper, we should just do it. Bad feelings often have grounding in truth. After all, we don’t want to suffer from any of the domestic helper drama that makes it to the headlines.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things will continue to work out well with my second helper now.

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  • Tabitha


    Thanks so much for your posting on how to manage the helper. Btw, possible to give me a copy of your maid schedule?


    • Emily

      Hi Tabitha,
      I need to search my laptop, not sure where I kept the file. I will e-mail to you once I found it.

  • Josephine

    Hi Emily,

    Can you send me a copy of your schedule too. Hope you can find it. Thanks!

    • Emily

      Hi Josephine,
      I’ll try to locate it again and post it in my blog to share with everyone. Thanks for your interest!