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Hiring helper 1st time western family

  1. #1
    wintermom is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Hong Kong Island

    Hiring helper 1st time western family

    We hired a helper with no experience with Western family. Interviewed several, hired her based on children's reactions to her, very positive. Any suggestions as to how to make a good start? She starts next week. Advice/suggestions about how to present/explain things, what to put in writing, etc would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    spockey is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    If you are a SAHM, you'd be spending a lot of time teaching her how things are run and done in a Western household. Write everything down. Pick out all recipes that are simple to be begin with, e.g. basic pasta sauce, and tag them (if you are using a recipe book). Write a schedule of what to cook and when for the family and baby/children. For our baby, I bought Women's Weekly recipe book for babies... it was the simplest. And, I typed up a collection of baby finger food that I could see her make.
    I found that ours does not have the same notion of cleanliness as us, had different names for different things... so it was a re-education of sorts for her. After 3 months, she still didn't get it.
    We also had a picture dictionary for her to see what we talked about e.g. fusilli, zucchini as i found that their concept of pasta can be limited to spaghetti and zucchini is a cucumber. Even things like cream, steak... things we take for granted, had to be photographed and filed.

  3. #3
    sophwillsmum is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Bel air, Cyberport.
    I also bought the book "helpers helper' which has been discussed here before.I highlighted the most important parts and gave it to our hepler to read before starting. In it, it also suggested writing out a daily schedule for how the family's day is run and what you expect from her. The book and this idea has worked wonders for us. Good luck!

  4. #4
    CelticKiwi is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    We simply made up a chart of duties to be completed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I then took the time to go through each task with the helper and explained how we like things done. I am quite picky and our helper did (and still does) a great job. Helpers are sometimes so scared of making a mistake so spending time with them at the beginning is a real help as it builds confidence and trust.

    Also, I had a list of house rules that I got her to sign.

    Hope this helps.


  5. #5
    aussiegal is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Good luck. We hired on the same basis but it just hasn't worked out. In future we will only be hiring someone who already has experience working with a western family. We just don't have the time to micro-manage someone until they 'get us' and i kind of think it defeats the purpose if you have to tell them what to do every step of the way. Our helper hasn't made life easier for us but actually harder because i now have to manage her and our two kids. I'm sure that some helpers learn fine how to look after a western family but ours just doesn't seem able to. Our family is very relaxed but for her everything is a task she just wants to get finished. Our 17 month old constantly gags on his food because she stands over him shovelling food into his mouth when he hasn't finished the first mouth and despite us telling her to sit down and make sure he eats slowly. When she bathes him it's all done within 5 minutes despite the fact that he loves the bath and when we do it we let him stay in there until he wants to get out. She lets him cry and cry in his bed despite the fact that I have told her not to. He is a good boy and cries when he's done sleeping or when something is wrong- like his foot is caught in the cot not just for the hell of it. The other day i came home to hear him crying hysterically in bed and it was clear he had been doing it awhile his face was so red and he was in a sweat. His whole leg was trapped in his cot bars and she was in her room doing nothing.
    She can't talk to him properly, never uses please or thank you so everything is an order. She ruins our dinner nearly every night to the point that eithe i cook or we order in most nights. She doesn't understand that we cook with only a little oil despite us telling her time and time again. Last night she made bangers and mash- not hard at all but the mashed potato was swimming in a pool of golden oil and she must have used an entire clove of garlic! It was disgusting. Another meal into the bin without even a bite taken. Not forgetting that my husband has had severe food poisoining three times since she's been here each time having eaten food she cooked that i wouldn't touch.

    Anyway, sorry about the rant but it's probably best to scare you a little so you make an effort to get things right from the beginning. I think if you let things go at all at the beginning it is too hard to get things back on track later. If our helper was better with the kids- she appeared to be at first but actually is no good, i would have sent her on cooking classes etc. As is she's not worth any further investment. She is paid $4000/month, we bought her air-con for her room, new bed, towels, clothes, toiletries, everything in fact and we have nothing to show for it but more stress. She simply won't make the effort to do what we ask her to do. I think a lot of helpers think westerners are easier employers, softer etc and probably we are simply because most of us come from countries where it is harder to afford full time help so we have no experience in dealing with them.

    Get as much info as you can about working with them and it might all work out fine. If it does life can be a hell of a lot easier and more enjoyable. Good luck.

  6. #6
    snagito is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    One thing we did that helped was to ask our helper to focus only on one thing at a time to start off with - she spent the week mainly getting to know our baby while I continued doing the cooking and cleaning and ironing, week two she continued looking after baby and did the ironing while he napped, week three she added cleaning - we got to week 4 and she tried a bit of cooking - was not at all what we expected so decided to forget the cooking bit - now she just chops and keeps things ready and we assemble the meal to our liking - this has saved a lot of stress..Anyway she is a wonderful lady and pretty much looks after baby between 9 - 5 when we are at work and irons and/or cleans while he naps - then when we are at home with baby after 5 then she gets on with the cleaning/chopping etc so it works well for us. Worked well for us to let her do one thing at a time so that we could assess potential problem areas right at the beginning..With you the best of luck.It's good to be careful but also remember that some helpers are so sweet and try so hard to please that you know right from the beginning that with a bit of communicating and trying from both sides -- that in the end, she will become a great part of your family.

  7. #7
    ELT is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    aussiegal, I feel so sorry for you! You are right about how it would defeat the purpose if you had to micro-manage. When I finish the day's work, I just want to go home, relax and play with my baby. If I had to worry about the helper's work, or the night's dinner, I'm sure I would go nuts. I just tell my helper what we expect from her in terms of deliverables and priorities (e.g. baby always come first, then cleaning, cooking). And we let her find her own way to achieve them. I guess the fact that we like filipino food makes her life easier too!

    Anyways, I guess each family has different needs and expectations so make sure you tell your DH exactly what you want her to deliver and how. And be prepared to accept mistakes. Allow time for her to adapt as afterall she comes from a different culture than you.

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