You must have heard the news of a couple being punished for ill treating the maid. It’s a sad. In many cases, it is hard to judge whether the employer or the helper is at fault. Since, employers have more power, they tend to ill-treat the helper. It’s no better than the modern day slavery. Helpers cannot wear certain dresses, cannot eat food, cannot sleep at certain hours and the list goes on. Nagging about helpers is never-ending. Over the years, I employed quite a few and started understanding the situation little bit better.
Employers expect the maid to replace them when they are not around. But maids are only to assist. The other day I visited Library with my 4 year old daughter. We were sitting with our books in one corner. While I was struggling to make her read, I saw a lady who was really struggling with less than 18 month old baby. From the body gestures, I could tell that she was a FDW. She looked tired, unhappy and frustrated. She forced the baby to sit on the chair and started turning the pages in front of him. Visibily she was unhappy doing it. Since, she was expected to entertain him with the books, she was doing it like any other chore.
As a mother it was annoying to see. It is very hard to find a helper who loves your child as her own. My attention was diverted to think, that how at times, parents offload their responsibilities to the maid! I don’t intend to judge parents because the work life here is very busy. Still spending time with the kid, especially bringing them out, is important. The maid cannot teach what parents can. Kids are fearless and are ready to explore more when they are with parents.
On another instance, we went to botanic gardens. People carried loads of things like sheets, food, play items, water etc. so that they sit on the ground, eat and play. While we were sitting, I saw several helpers who were carrying a lot more than their little petit body can handle. Employers and their children (7 Years +) were walking hands free. This kind of behaviour send s a wrong message to the kids. It is interesting to see how kids in other countries are being handled. For example – in Japan, kids are expected to clean the classroms at an early age, they go to school by themselves etc. They are being pushed to do their own work.
Having a maid who is staying 24×7 is a privilege. Employers atttitude is to get them to work hard just because they are being given a place to stay. They tend to forget that they are being brought just to provide support. One of the reasons why most of the helpers prefer to work with causians is because they are being treated better than asian employers.
The helpers leave their family and kids to come here for a living. Staying with a new family and embracing them could be challenging. It takes time and one should be patient. It is employers’ responsibility to train the helper with lots of patience so that she can be an asset and not a liability. If one is spending more time overseeing the FDW then it defeats the purpose of keeping them.
Some FDW may be smarter and takes undue advantage. They should be punished as they set bad examples for others. But generalizing that FDW should be treated in certain way is wrong. The maids are not qualified and poor in their own countries. Most of the time, they are not trained. So, it becomes employers’ responsibility to train her as per their needs and making sure she is comfortable in her work environment.
I recall a situation when I had to deal with two young kids for three weeks without any help. It was a nightmare. I felt so helpless. I didn’t know how to cook, do dishes, washing, cleaning the house etc. And was desperate to get someone in immediately. In the end, I did manage to get someone. But it taught me a big lesson. As a working mother, I really depend on the maid and I must take care of their health and happiness As employers face several issues, the maid agencies take advantage of the situation. They charge hefty fee for a new FDW or replacing one.
So, whether you are working or non-working mom, be mindful of how you use this boon to your benefit. Because our counter-parts in Australia, Japan, Korea or US don’t not have the same facilities!
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