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food for helper plus other things

  1. #9
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    Don't be scared. The Internet always attracts the (minority) of cases that are horror stories. And Hong Kongers tend to be ridiculously critical of these women, who work very hard, very long hours, for not very much money. I think it's a bias, intentional or not, against poor dark-skinned workers, and also an unforunate habit of complaining dramatically about everything. (I say this as a HK Chinese myself - it's not one of the nicer parts of our culture).

    But the grand majority of helpers are here to work to send money home. I've been back in HK for more than a decade, and the grand majority of helpers I've met are honest, kind, diligent. They care for our children, our elderly, do our housework for us, etc. I have 3 very old relatives cared for by helpers who don't just do their jobs, but who really put care and love into it. Compared to how expensive and limited such care is in the West, we should count ourselves lucky.

    There is no secret trick except for basic decency. If you have any rules, set them out in the beginning clearly. For ex, state her days off, her duties, etc. Write it down if you must. Then treat her like a decent human being and, most of the time, she will be decent back to you.

    In the very rare case that she does something awful, like steal, then you fire her.

    But don't jump to conclusions. I've seen people here scream at their helpers for leaving a bit of skin or seed on an apple, or fire someone for a comment that was made or one mistake. In those cases, I blame the employers when the helper acts out.
    TNT likes this.

  2. #10
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    Treasure - By the way, my helper was invaluable to me during pregnancy. She started when I was 7 months along with my first child, when I was struggling to do housework while suffering from edema, while working full-time.
    That first week, just having someone take care of the flat, pack me healthy lunches, run to the supermarket for me -- it was great. So look on the positive side of things.
    Now as a pregnant mom again -- with a toddler at home and a full-time job -- I don't know what I'd do without her.
    Sure, she's made some minor mistakes, but I wouldn't call it a "hassle."

  3. #11
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    or me I would make sure you have realistic expectations for your helper....

    1) nobody is perfect - if they can cook, they probably aren't the best with kids and vice versa...if you have found one that is, you're lucky but it's not the norm - make sure you realize that and life will be much easier for you.
    2) if their english standard is not as good as you would like - understand that they are here as helpers and if they had a better option in terms of employment, they probably wouldn't be here....not to put them down, but just to be realistic about the whole situation. patience is the key
    3) have priorities - nobody is superwomen...they have long hours already, and even if they have "shorter hours" if they are working with kids, the day can seem much longer...be realistic and realize your helper needs rest to do their work well
    4) don't fuss over the small issues - if no harm / potential harm to family members occurs, let things slide - of course not like stealing and stuff, maybe stuff like forgetting to buy some things a grocery list or something....yes its a pain, but they will learn.

    my helpers, since we downsized, live in a tiny room (compared to before)...but they still have their own TV (albeit small), fridge (albeit small) and air con-....life is comfortable when they turn down, and thus my expectations when they are awake are high - have told them from the beginning. One thing that helps my helpers is that they see me do things, e.g. wipe the floor, clean the kitchen, dust, on weekends when they are on holiday - they know what my standards are cause I uphold them personally and not just talk about them and tell them to do it - I literally show them what I want....must add that I'm a SAHM so that might be easier....

  4. #12
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    we give $300/week. so, if the month has 5 sundays, that month they get $1500 each. we decided to give it that way so that they would be forced to buy fresh rather than sending money home and living on noodles.

    your helper is totally taking advantage. i'd be putting her straight very, very quickly.

    also: the litmus test is this..... does your helper make your life easier or more difficult? if the latter, then you need a different helper. it doesn't matter how good she is with the kids.

  5. #13
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    Carang makes a good point.
    If you're going to give a food allowance, make sure she actually spends it on food. These women are brought up so poor - and bad habits die hard - that they scrimp like crazy. Many feel it is their job to sacrifice for their relatives back home.
    You don't want them stashing their "food money" away and sending it home, as much as it may be needed there.
    One friend was paying the standard $300 a week, like Carang, but realized her helper was living off of biscuits and water, to save money. So she put her foot down. The money was for food, to keep her strong and healthy. She was expected to spend that $300 at a grocery store or wet market for herself. (And $300 is really not that much - enough for rice, noodles, meat, veg, fruit, etc.)
    Her being strict on this issue benefitted both the employer and the employee.

  6. #14
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    we're lucky, none of our helpers have every saved every penny of food allowance... they've always spent it on food.

  7. #15
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    we've been lucky with helpers, too. the one i have has good common sense. she spends her food allowance on food, keeps herself pretty strong and healthy, and uses her salary to send money home, as she should.

  8. #16
    geiboyi is offline Registered User
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    I didn't want my helper living on noodles, so we've always told her to buy whatever she wants to eat, but write it down in the book along with the other shopping receipts. With each helper I've only checked it about once, but I don't think I've ever had anyone take advantage. All our helpers have put on weight since living in HK, but so have I. They know that we live fairly frugally, so treat our shopping money with respect. I hope...

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