Your maternity leave ends soon – who will take care of your baby? If you don’t have parental support or don’t like the idea of infantcare centres, you’ll probably end up hiring a domestic helper.
Entrusting your precious one to a total stranger can be a nerve-racking experience, but there’s a lot you can do to ease the transition.
Here, mums with young kids share how they prep their maids.
HERE’S THE ROUTINE
“We give our helper a timetable to follow. This way, she knows what to do when we’re not home and it takes away the guesswork. For example, at 7am, she and Baby go to the park for a walk. They return at 8am for a shower and milk feed. At 9.30am, Baby takes a nap, and she mops and tidies the house. She knows that major chores like cleaning of toilets and windows can wait till the weekend when we’re not at work.”
– Winnie Chong, self-employed
WE NEED YOU, GRANDMA
“You’ll need time to train your helper and for both of you to understand each other. Employ one a few months before returning to work. This also acts like a probation period. When you return to work, consider either leaving your helper and kids at your parents’ place or have someone to help oversee her, until you’re sure you can trust her.”
– Janice Wong, sales coordinator
EYES ON YOU
“We were initially very nervous about leaving Baby with our helper. So we installed video cameras at home that allow us to see the goings-on, as well as for them to hear us calling over the cameras. We’re very honest with our helper – she knows exactly where they’re placed. Once our bond was established and she built a caring relationship with our child, we gradually cut down on the monitoring.
“We’re also very clear in our priorities – Baby comes first, and major house cleaning should be done only on weekends. We need to live up to what we say. Even when we come home to a messy house, we aren’t upset with her, as long as our child’s needs are properly taken care of.”
– Michelle Ong, regional workforce manager
DO THIS INSTEAD
“My helper loves my baby and I’m really thankful for it. The only thing she’s not allowed to do is to heat up my breast milk. I’ve demonstrated it a few times, but she can’t get it right. For everyone’s sanity, I’ve instructed her to feed Baby only formula milk when I’m not around. Breast milk is too precious for any wastage.”
– Florinda Tay, entrepreneur
COME, LET’S CHAT
“My helper and I talk openly, and I try to get involved in her life as much as she allows me. It helps with the relationship – I know she’d take great care of my kids and home if her concerns are looked after as well. When I found out that she had money woes, I offered her interest-free loans so she wouldn’t get involved with loan sharks. She’s well aware of her focus areas and my expectations: Keeping the kids’ room hygienic, cooking meals and supervising playtime.”
– Steph Tan, photographer
NOW, WHAT IF…
“I told my helper that my kids come first. I even went as far as asking her a hypothetical question: If my house got rained in, the laundry got wet and the kids were obviously in trouble, what would she do? It’s good to present what-if scenarios and ask for her answers. We can’t presume our helpers would think and do the same as us.”
– Marnie M. Noor, lawyer
“I make it a point to let our helper have sufficient rest and sleep because she’s already tired from taking care of the kids during the day. So I’m the one to wake up and attend to Baby if she cries in the middle of the night.”
– Belinda Teo, education officer
COOK AND FREEZE
“My helper had already been with my family for four years when my second child was born. She earned my trust and I felt comfortable leaving him with her. When he started on solids, I prepared a menu for her to follow. I’d also cook and freeze his soup in batches, which she’d heat up for each meal.”
– Elizabeth De Cruz, procurement executive
Related: They have 6 kids and no maid