Sometimes, the fault of horror maid stories lie with the employers. These bosses expect their maids to work 18-hour days, doing everything from housekeeping to washing the car, cooking meals and babysitting the kids, caring for the elderly and their house pets. They do not feed them well and on top of everything, treat the maids with less dignity than the animals they care for.
No wonder some maids act up or run away!? Mutual trust and respect are keys to any thriving relationships. If you want to have a successful maid-employer relationship, here are five golden rules to observe.
1. Give them PROPER FOOD - Feed them for Christ’s sake! If they are looking after your children or elderly and doing all your housework, at least give them enough food for energy. One neighbour I had ranted about how slow and inefficient her maid was in doing the housework and looking after her two pre-schoolers. But on further probing, I learnt that the maid was only allowed to eat one egg (protein) and 2 packets of Maggie noodles (carbohydrates) a day. The rest of the foods were reserved for the family; she was yelled at if any of the other food, even cookies are missing!
2. Give them TIME TO REST - Ask yourself this question: will YOU work 18-hour-days for $400 a month? Most likely, your answer is “No Way!” As it is, most helpers are up by 7am, and work till 10pm or later. Let us be a little understanding that these helpers are human too and need their rest. Give them their day to rest and respect their day off. Refrain from calling your maids on their day off for inconsequential matters like where your child’s toy is. And if you need them to give up their off days, it’s only fair to compensate them or replace the day off on another occasion.
3. Give them COMPASSION - Every family has their own routines, habits and preferences, allow time (about 3 months) for the maid to settle in and explain these practices to them. Every woman has her mood. Give each other space and be understanding of the individual’s idiosyncrasy (within reason of course). Some employers use their maids as “punching bags” – they’ll scold or yell at the maids when they are in a bad mood – just because they can. If employers want their maids to respect them, they should first model that practice. The ability to say sorry should be a two-way street.
Open a channel of communication. There was a period of a month my helper was not working to her usual standards – she was forgetful and unprepared for our regular routines. Naturally, I became annoyed and asked her what was going on. She admitted that she was distracted because her father and brother had fallen ill and were hospitalized. With that understanding, we made some adjustments to her workload. Shortly after, her father and brother recovered and she was back to her usual efficient self again.
4. Give them the FREEDOM TO BE ADULTS - This is the hardest rule for employers to adopt. There is so much fear that the maids will be led astray by “friends” or worry that they will “misbehave” on Sundays that a lot of employers place all kinds of restrictions on their helpers - no day off, no phone calls, no friends.
Understandably, we’ve all had bad experiences with “naughty maids”, but if you treat them like overgrown teenagers, likelihood of them rebelling is very high. My personal philosophy is to treat them like adults – inform them of the consequences of their choices and your level of comfort with their choices. If there is a mismatch in personality, philosophy, and understanding, then it is better to part ways (which leads me to my next point).
5. Give them the CHOICE TO LEAVE - Some employers hold on to their helpers because they do not want to “start over” with the tedious process of interviewing, hiring, training and integrating a new maid into their household. Or perhaps it’s embarrassing to “lose” yet another maid. Others hold on for their own convenience – they want their maid to wait till the children are older, so they could continue to work and leave the care-giving duties to them. Granted that once you find a good help, you should try to keep them for as long as you can. But sometimes, if you grant them with the blessings to go, they might surprise you and stay with you even longer.
* Source: cbc news