Hiring a domestic helper…

November 2012

For the past few weeks, E and I have been busy looking for a domestic helper. Because of our personalities and our work commitments, it is almost impossible that anyone is interested in doing any household chores after work. Currently, we are just hiring a part time helper who comes in every weekend, clocking around 5-6 hours each time.

Initially, like many couples and families, we were very resistant towards the getting a domestic helper because it will mean lesser privacy in the family, possibility of dealing with unwanted and unnecessary maid issues and maybe increasing costs. With the impending birth of Mei Mei in April,  it has finally come to a point whereby we definitely need an extra pair of hands to help around at home to help out with the increasing household duties and caring for the kiddos. We decided that if we are able to get a helper by December instead of March will be good because I will have time to train her and she can also use these few months to acclaimatise to our home and her responsibilities.

This is our third attempt in trying to get a domestic help.   The first time was before the birth of Baby Ryan. The second time was before I returned to work after the birth of Baby Ryan. For both times, we ended up backing out in the decision because we could not give up our privacy plus our apartment then(Telok Kurau) was really small. Apparently, third’s a charm.

We spent a good 3-4 weeks looking for a domestic help. Yes, it was not easy. Not when you are pregnant with Number 2. Not when the weather is scorching hot these days. We sacrificed Ryan’s play weekends, scouring Katong Shopping Centre and Roxy Square.

We started off thinking that we wanted a Myanmese helper. Myanmese helper’s salaries are pegged at $420-$450 in the current market at Katong Shopping Centre, compared to the Indonesians’ at $450-$500 and Filipinos at $500-$550. Myanmese helpers also do not request for off days and they do not have mobile phones. So, these are push factors for me. However, the agents did remind us that the Myanmese helpers are weak in the command of English and are slower than their counterparts. In the end, E convinced me that the challenges outweigh the positives. In the end, it was down to getting a Filipino helper.

E made me go back to one of the maid agencies that he trusted. In fact, it was our third visit there. The first time, he recommended us a transfer Filipino helper and used to work for Korean families. We were quite interested in getting her because she apparently could cook a wide variety of Korean dishes and we did like Korean food a lot. When we interviewed her further(with our mothers), we found out that the last time she returned to the Philippines was to deliver a baby. Yes, so the story was that there was something going on between her and the security guard of the condominium she stayed in. *sigh* Of course, the woman was the victim- she was the one who had to return to the Philippines and now have a baby to provide for. We were sympathetic but reserved about her once we found out that she and her ex boyfriend were still in contact. (It would be quite troublesome if Number 2 comes out when we were employing her….). After hearing the story, my mother was less enthusiastic of having a domestic helper helping her. So, thus, the maid plans were shelved.

The second time, when we once again decided to get a dometic help, E went back to the same agency. The owner recommended us a transfer maid again. The helper told us that her owner sent her back to the agency after 2 weeks and there was no reason given. She suspect it could be possibly because the older maid in the house gossiped and bad mouthed her. Hmm… she did look very sincere but there were too many loophopes in her story. The thing is that when you are selecting a domestic helper and having a total stranger living with your family with young babies, there is really very little room for sympathy and sad stories. This may sound harsh but I really prioritise my family safety above all true/sad/believable stories. In the end, we shelved our maid’s plans yet again because my mother told me that she will try to manage handling Ryan herself.

The third time, we interviewed 3 transfer maid at his office (I really have no idea why his office have that many transfer maids). They have the usual sad stories of their bosses mistreating them, not giving them their salaries for 1.5 years and there is even one who maid her work at her shop(it was found out and she had to leave her boss). Because it was my third time there, I was starting to feel rather dubious about the whole thing. Of course, the stories could be true and everything but I just did not feel that it was right.  

I complained to my parents about the whole thing and there was one weekend evening when I broke down because I was so exhausted from the maid hunting and my pregnancy hormones were running amok again. My dad reminded me to ask his Filipino tenant, Francis about his maid’s lobang and I called Francis the next day and he was so helpful. He told me to never get transfer maid(of course, that is his personal opinion and I am taking his advice because it sounds reasonable to me). He gave me the contacts and I found our that his deal was much cheaper/affordable that what we looked for in East Coast. We went to the office that evening and we selected our helper in a week’s time. In fact, we interviewed her via Skype as she was in the Philippines. Okay… when we were video conferencing, the applicant did say that I looked pretty. Awwww….smarto! But that was not one of those things that made me hire her. From our interview and the resume, she sounded okay(not psycho) and experienced. Right now, the office is still processing our application but my mind is partially at peace. I am using the word “partially” because the processing is taking longer than what I expect.

Right now, we are crossing our fingers and hoping that the helper will be someone efficient, helpful and kind. In the mean time, I am trying to do up a schedule for her, along with some guidelines. If you know the line of work I am in, you will understand why I will feel more at ease when there is structure for my helper to follow. Heehee.

Btw, if you want to know, this is E’s choice of maid but outside of price range.



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