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Domestic Helper Concerns (sorry for the long post!)

  1. #1
    GTI
    GTI is offline Registered User
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    Domestic Helper Concerns (sorry for the long post!)

    So my baby boy is 3 months old. My maid came to help us out 3 weeks ago. Our son loves her and she has her way of calming him down when he gets fussy. I guess this comes from her having 4 kids. So her attitude has been great, she works fast with house chores.

    However, she's super forgetful and I guess she was trained to lie her way through things.

    Forgetful: She has twice left the boiling water running till it ran dry. Once, it ran so long she decided to go take a nap. It wasn't until I came back and saw the pot fuming hot, did I tell her about it.

    She has thrice not closed the master door properly. After she throws the trash, she casually walks in the house and doesn't ensure that 'click' sound you get from closing a door shut.

    She has twice/thrice left the master key stuck on the door!!! Why she does not pull it back out upon entering the house is beyond me. Who doesn't pull the key out?

    All this is putting our baby and ourselves in danger!

    She would also take a lot of things to be washed and completely forget where they belong like the lids of tuber wares, cups or bags. I spent last night searching the place to find bits and bobs everywhere. Asked her today if she placed it here and there and she said she doesn't recall, which is nuts because I've been living without a maid for my whole life and I always have the habit of placing things where they originally are stored for easy recall.


    Dishonesty: First off, she hasn't been practicing her English for the past few years. So initially when we talked to her, she had trouble realizing we were calling her name. Then when we gave instructions, she would just say nothing. No nodding, but a simple 'yes sir' or 'yes madam' at the end of our instructions. Its happened numerous times where she would not do anything or simply do something else. Once we told her to get the baby ready cause he needs to go out. She simply said yes sir, and then continued rocking the baby. we give her heads up on a lot of things and when it comes up, she's usually surprised.

    And when I said twice/thrice above, on leaving her keys. Today, when she came back from washing the car, i heard the door open 10 minutes later. I heard the key turning and being unplugged. I asked her if she left the keys in the key hole again. She said no and that she opened the door to get her slippers. OK, wet slippers from car wash. makes sense. But would you put your slippers so far from the master door, you have to close the door to get them back? Btw, I never heard the door close, just a plain door open and keys turning to be unplugged.

    This is frustrating to me because I made it very clear to her that we empathize what she's going through. Home sick, a lot of tasks, etc. We told her we expect mistakes, but she can't makes critical ones like these which endangers our baby. We also told her she has to absolutely be honest with us. She chooses to 'pretend' to understand every word we say to her and today she lies about the crucial mistake. Its really not cool and I find it insulting that she believes I would buy it.

    Our son can be a handful and sometimes she may not get enough sleep. So we set a schedule for her to get 9 hours total of sleep/free time. She chooses to wake up at 6:30am each morning and gets 7 hours. She chooses to have a lot of coffee which shows she's sleep deprived. We ask her if she's not getting enough sleep causing her to be forgetful. She says she's just naturally forgetful (very relieving for us...)

    So what do you think? Is this going to get better or is her natural forgetfulness just going to keep on going causing her to lie time and time again?

  2. #2
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    Just curious -- what time does she go to sleep? What are her work hours?
    Our helper works from 10am - 9pm, so an 11-hour shift. It's been that way since our baby was born a year ago -- though I was home the first five months and do a good amount of the babycare. Also, we are careful not to overload her with housework. My husband and I split the cooking with her. And we're not the kind of household where the floors have to be scubbed daily and the underwear ironed into squares.
    If she does more than about 12 hours, she starts to get forgetful and fatigued.
    This happened when she got overworked around CNY, when I asked her to do some OT.
    She was so tired she just left the baby in the crib to cry once when my husband and I were out. Then she broke our coffee machine by absentmindedly putting its lid in the bottle purifier. (?!!)
    I didn't yell, but was very stern with her. When I asked her if she was tired, she said yes. We agreed that if she ever felt extremely tired or ill, she must not be scared to tell us. If she needed a sick day, we'd grant it within reason. I'd rather do the babycare myself -- or call an outside nanny -- than to put the child's safety at risk.
    It's not a big deal that the coffee machine broke. But what if she did something else that was stupid -- like hold the baby in one arm while pouring hot water in another? Or not notice that the baby was choking on something?
    After that we made sure she got plenty of rest, and she's been responsible, alert, and cheerful since.
    When you think about it, and 11- or 12-hour shift x 6 days = 66-72 hour work week.
    I know that's normal for HK helper. But none of us ladies (or gents) would function well working more than that.
    Last edited by Gracey; 09-13-2012 at 11:05 PM.
    carang, Irishmom and mummymoo like this.

  3. #3
    GTI
    GTI is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for the reply. Her working hours are set to be 9am to 8pm where she ends with washing dishes. She is scheduled to give our son a feeding at 11pm, which means she sleeps at 11:30. she chooses to wake at 6:30 with a dose of coffee and several naps.

    We have been very fair and empathatic with her. We asked that she mop the floor every two days. She tells us she warns to do it daily. What's there to stop us. We do all our own cooking plus supermarket shopping. So she literally spends a good 3-4 hours napping each day.

    She says she ideally wants to sleep early and wake early which to us is inconvenient cause we come back from work at 7:30pm and she sleeps with the baby in a room. This means we only get to see the baby for literally an hour each weekday.

    Sorry for the rant. Some probably get it worse.



    Sent from my GT-I9300 using GeoClicks Mobile

  4. #4
    Gemma is offline Registered User
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    Does your 3 month old wake up several times a night? How long would she have to spend getting him back to sleep?

    Also, does she snore? Sometimes medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea can give you daytime sleepiness, and definitely affects the memory

  5. #5
    CandidKim is offline Registered User
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    Only time will tell whether or not she'll be less forgetful or whether she'll be less of a creative story-teller.
    Last edited by CandidKim; 09-14-2012 at 01:17 AM.

  6. #6
    genkimom is offline Registered User
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    It's very rare for a three month old to sleep through the night. Who is sitting up with the baby when he or she wakes up at 2 am and 5 am (or more often, as the case may be)? I know my nine month old still gets up at least twice during the night; when she was three months, it was every two hours, round the clock. I was exhausted all day long and very forgetful too. Just because YOU are getting in lots of sleep at night doesn't mean SHE is, if she is the one caring for the baby at night too.

    You really should be the one to care for your own child when you are home and not let the helper do it. Not only will that give her a better rest, it will also allow your child to bond with you. Do you want to be one of those mothers who complains their children prefer their helper over you or cry if you hold them and only the helper will soothe them? babies bond with the person who cares for them, and that person should be YOU at night if if are working during the day and can't be there. Take back that 11 pm feeding (and there are probably 2 am and 5 am feedings too that you don't even know about as you sleep carefree)!

    As for "lying", I wouldn't call it lying as much as a cultural difference. My Filipino helper always says "yes ma'am, I understand" even when she doesn't understand a thing. It's her culture. You can call it lying if you like, but you will need lots of patience with this problem, because it probably won't go away. I have had my helper since April and she still hasn't learned how to ask a question or be up front when she doesn't understand. Everyone tells me this is typical among Filipinos, so I just have to keep telling her I want her to questions me, I want her to tell me she doesn't understand, I want to help her but I need to know what help she needs from me.

    The advice from the agency we went through was not to even consider firing a helper for at least 2-3 months, because it takes that long for them to adjust to their new job in your family. Your helper has only been there a few weeks; just be patient and ask her what YOU can do to help HER and try to work things out so she can get more rest and serve you better.
    Lousmum likes this.

  7. #7
    evelyne is offline Registered User
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    As a mum of a preschooler who has slept with my child since birth, I can say I have been very forgetful and had very bad brain fog as a result of lack of sleep due to him waking. Napping is not the same as sleeping through the night. I would suggest that you and your partner take the night shift yourself, or at least alternate with your helper. I know it will disrupt your work, but that is part of parenting, and it may be safer for your family that disrupting her work. At the VERY LEAST, take on the night feed and let her sleep early. Napping is not the same quality of sleep as a full night's sleep and that is what she needs. You can also try to buy her some vitamins and fish oils.
    carang, mummymoo and marie313 like this.

  8. #8
    mummymoo is offline Registered User
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    GTI I agree with the other posters that your maid may not be getting enough sleep. Even if your 3 monther does sleep through the night, and doesn't need a feed, he may rouse and wake her up accidentally. I would agree with the other posters that perhaps you should consider taking over the 11pm feed so at least you can have some time to bound with your little one and she at least gets 6 hours of unbroken sleep (8pm to 2am if your little one wakes around then).

    Also I think you assume a lot when you just count the hours she is off i.e. has 3-4 hours during the day time and between 8-11pm, and then from 11.30-7am. Because for most people they need a wind down period before they can get off to sleep again. She also needs down time to pray, shower, toilet ect. Also she may have bottles ect to wash after the feeds, ect, so she may not be getting as much time off as you think she is. In all honesty her day appears to be a long, long one, so you'd probably need to do something about that if you want to know if indeed she can improve.

    The other issue with the dishonesty may be a) a language issue - so depending on how bad it is and how patient you are, you may or may not want to persist! I once had a helper bring me a cup when I asked for a coconut!! b) the cultural lying that is pretty endemic with helpers from Indonesia and the Phillipines. Mainly its because they don't want to get into trouble and don't want to ask questions in case they come across as dumb and then get into trouble. I have managed to train one of my maids out of this habit (the other one doesn't have it) but it took 1 long year to do it. I wouldn't accept it long term and I told her so. She slowly came around but it's clearly not natural to her. Examples when my imported sausages went missing (last 2 out of a packet of 8) I asked the honest helper where they were as I wanted to eat them, she told me, I ate them! I thought you didn't want them anymore! Well ok at least its honest. The other helper, when the leftover salmon went missing (and other helper was off), the response was 'I don't know maam', 100% sure she ate it. Children are too small to access the fridge, husband would never lift a finger to heat up his own food, look in the fridge (sad yes I know!) and other helper had already left on day off. I confronted her about it and although she did not admit to eating it she told me she threw it out after some pressure. Long story short, I told her I thought these were all lies, and she was better off telling me that she had eaten it than generating more and more lies. She got it in the end but it's not natural for her but she has learnt from the other helper a little. And it's tolerable to me.

    By your description she doesn't sound to be a bad helper. she's efficient and lovely with your son. Perhaps giving her more dedicated unbroken time off, using pidgeon English (one thing I noticed with my husband is he uses complicated English with a helper who can't really speak the language properly and wonders why they don't understand him, I occasionally fall into this trap too) and finally, they can adapt to being more honest and upfront.

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