I’m a full time working mum and my helper wants to hold ‘helper play dates’ in our home for the kids and helpers to get together. I’m unsure, mainly due to security, as I don’t know who will be in my home! On the other hand, I want my helper to be happy and my children to socialise. Can you give any advice?
Helper playdates should be encouraged. Your children will be happy and your helper will be happy. Furthermore, this initiative means that your helper is happy to organise things on her own without you having to micromanage.
That being said, I understand your concern. It is natural to feel apprehensive about strangers in the home. But look at it this way; your helper already has access to your children and your home while you are away. If you trust her with that, trusting her with “strangers” in your home is maybe not such a big thing.
There is also certainly nothing wrong with laying down ground rules, and at least initially asking to meet the other helpers. Our helper has been with us for years and we trust her implicitly. If we are away on vacation, she often invites her friends over for a barbecue. She always asks us first and we know that she would never invite anyone she doesn’t trust to be a responsible person. Make sure you know your helper, for this and other reasons.
One word of caution – many playdates (with helpers or parents) mean that the kids are left to their own devices while the helpers (or parents) chat and have coffee. If this format is ok with you, fine. If you want your children (and their possibly rambunctious new friends!) to be under more positive control, make sure you let the helper know.
Having a happy helper is all well and good but she is there to work, i.e. take care of the children. If you are really worried, a “surprise visit” by a friend who is “just passing by” during the playdate makes for an excellent control.
For the only guide you’ll ever need on working with a helper, check out Andreas’ fab book ‘Hiring and Managing Domestic Help’ and buy it here.