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helpers/nannies - full time working parents

  1. #1
    ania8888 is offline Registered User
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    helpers/nannies - full time working parents

    I am wondering what experiences other working parents have with their helpers/nannies. Just want to double check if my expectations are too high or totally unrealistic. For example, does your helper cook for you in the evening, does she do shopping and all household chores AND takes care of your baby during the day? Or do you give up/compromise cleaning and cooking vs baby care? Perhaps I am naive but I was expecting my helper to do all of the above. I am currently on maternity leave which means I take care of my newborn 100% of the time with the helper occasionally changing nappies, and holding my baby when I am in the shower or have something to eat. But the helper already complained that she is overworked! And that is just doing cleaning and food shopping for a 3 bed smallish flat and 2 grown ups. My friend told me that she totally gave up on the cleaning side, and just lets the helper be a nanny for her two toddlers. She was going to get some other part time helper to do just the cleaning.

    My problem is that I was expecting my helper to do all three parts, baby care, cleaning and cooking, paying her well above the market. But it seems I am headed for a big disappointment when I go back to work. The cleaning schedule is already very geneous ie hoover just twice a week, dust every other day, iron once a week, wash clothes perhaps twice a week, plus baby clothes when needed and full load. I am not expecting a perfect house at any time. But for example, my helper takes 3 hours to cook simple meals which should take 30-40 mins max. She has currently no spare capacity to take on baby care!

    I am considering getting another helper. But I just want a reality check that I am perhaps too demanding. I had a helper before, addmitedly before the baby arrived, but never had any issues with her. All householdwork was finished before lunch, and she had plenty of time for other things. This makes me think that it is possible to get everything done. I have invested already 4 months of training, detailed discussions and written instructions, constant feedback both positive and not so positive etc. And it is not getting any better, no sign of impovement...

    Any views, anyone has had same situation?

    Ania

  2. #2
    LeahH is offline Registered User
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    Hi, doesn't sound like your helper is currently that overworked, like you I looked after my baby 100% when on mat leave and my helper had plenty of time to cook, clean and even walk the dog!

    That said, when I went back to work I got a part timer to assist her. I'm sure it's humanly possible to do all three parts, but personally I would find it difficult! You can downgrade your expectations around cleaning, but now my baby is crawling it's actually become a much more important factor.

    Also, I wanted my helper to have the time to play with and stimulate my baby during the day. If there were a lot of chores that needed doing, I worried the baby would spend time in front of the TV.

    My part-timer comes 3 hours a day, Mon to Fri - but she walks the dog as well which takes a good hour.

    Hope that helps

  3. #3
    spockey is offline Registered User
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    Ania, I've PMed you.
    Working parents have very different needs from families with one stay at home parent. Any helper who has worked for a working family local or not will know that it is expected of them to do everything - taking care of baby, cook and clean. Don't expect the house to be sparkling though on daily basis, just neatly maintained. Once a week, on the day the parents have the day off, that's when the helper is expected to spring clean the home. From what you've written, you've been VERY generous! She's probably just dragging her feet i.e. not wanting to care for the baby or clean... 3 hours to cook a simple meal!

  4. #4
    HappyV is offline Registered User
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    Well, many mothers all over the world manage 1 or more children, and to keep their homes at least semi-clean, and to cook dinner for themselves and for their partners.
    I don't think it's unrealistic to ask someone to shop 3 - 4 times a week, laudry 2-3 times a week, plus baby care, plus cooking.
    Yes - it's hard work. Yes - it's difficult. But at least the helpers get their days off.
    I'm not unsympathetic - and the first few months are the hardest for everyone. I would say if your baby hits 3 months and the helper is still complaing, then it's time to start looking.

  5. #5
    josoo is offline Registered User
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    helper/nannies - full time working parents

    Put yourself into your helper's shoes? Could you possibly do all that and sleep 6-7 hours? Is your newborn sleeping through the night yet?

    I personally think its exhausting and if you do not give your helper enough time to rest, she will fall ill, then its a vicious cycle. Your kids will get sick and then you will get sick. Or worst case scenario is that something will happen to the newborn, because your helper is too tired, and it'll be accidental. Imagine that?

    If you can afford the extra help, you should consider a part timer. The part timer can come in three times a week to take care of the cleaning/washing/ironing, so your helper has some time off.

    My two cents...

  6. #6
    spockey is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by josoo View Post
    Put yourself into your helper's shoes? Could you possibly do all that and sleep 6-7 hours? Is your newborn sleeping through the night yet?
    I'm going to agree with Josoo as far as her above remarks go... everyday, when I came home from work, I took the baby off the helper's hand i.e. no more baby work. Helper NEVER did anything with bub after 6:00PM. It means either hubby or I woke up if there was a need to during the night. She was off at 8:00PM at the very latest except for occasions like Christmas when we baked cookies. Even then, we gave her extra days off e.g. New Year's Eve, Boxing Day. So everyday, from 8:00 PM to 6:30AM she had plenty of time to rest.

    But on the flip side, LOTS of families in Hong Kong expect it all from their helpers and it works with little investment in training as you have undertaken. It's just a matter of setting expectations and if can't see eye to eye with the expectations then, find someone else who can because there's LOTs of helpers out there who have done it and will do it again.

    On the question of her being overworked, I work from 7:50 to 5:30 Mon-Fri, come home to care for my son til he goes to bed between 7:30-8:00PM, then start marking my student's work or preparing for my lessons the next day til late or I'm studying. Essentially I get up at 6:30AM and don't stop functioning as a mother, student and professional til at least 11PM. It's quite normal in Hong Kong to expect helpers to put in the hours especially if the employers themselves are putting in the hours. I don't get the luxury of a two hour mid-day break as our helper had. In your case Ania, the helper is probably undermotivated and is still functioning under 'island time'.

    And to get back to Josoo's point, Yes, I agree, can you complete your daily demands as a mother and professional on 6 or 7 hours work. I can but I don't expect my helper to. If you can, then find a helper who can meet your needs because they are out there. Or if you can't then there is a need for a second helper.
    Last edited by spockey; 05-26-2008 at 08:49 AM. Reason: Typo

  7. #7
    ania8888 is offline Registered User
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    Thank you everyone for sharing your views and opinions.

    Yes, I can function and I did function on 6-7 hours sleep before I had the baby (I work for an investment bank so no choice). And I can function on the same amount of sleep now with the baby. My helper works from 8.30am to 7pm at the latest with 1 hour break during the day. I get up at night now and will later when I return to work. In the end of the day I am expecting a baby care during daytime, and not a replacement mother. My helper currently does NOTHING around the baby, perhaps 10%. And she complains of her work load. I know when I go back to work I will have to relax my expectations even further... Baby is my priority no 1.

    My point is, that if I can, and a lot of people, including back in Europe, can do it and do it all the time, surely the helper should be able to do the same. I am not expecting a wonder woman here, just some reasonable speed in dong the household chores, independece, initiative and self reliance.

    On reflection, I think I have made a recruitment mistake (well this happens even in my professional environment). I have recruited a helper who worked for a household with a stay at home mum. This is totally different, I realise now. This really hit home when my helper, when questioned how exactly she dealt previously with different matters, used the expression 'WE' did this and the other etc. In reality she never did anything independently. Always there was the stay at home mum who told her what to do, how etc, with close supervision at most times. The WE comes almost every other day, whenever I have a question. I really get upset when my helper ignores my baby crying , now that I am at home, and contently rearranging the flowers. I wonder how it will be when I am not at home... I will give it another month or two and then if no improvement, start looking for a new one.

    Thanks everyone again.

    Ania

  8. #8
    sunniefaith is offline Registered User
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    If that's the case, time to look for another helper. Unless you don't mind paying for another helper for the incompetency. And if you do relax your expectations, to what extent are you willing to relax them?

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