Hiring a helper might be a new thing for mamas in Hong Kong, so the team at Annerley have run through what you should clarify with them from the start to ensure a great working relationship.
You have hired, or are about to hire a helper to care for your new baby. You are about to enter quite a unique situation – you are now an employer and you have hired an employee to work and live in your home and to take care of your precious child. To avoid awkward moments and undefined roles, it can work very well by simply writing a job description. It doesn’t need to be complicated or written in stone – over time, the role of your helper can change as you build up your relationship.
Most domestic helpers in Hong Kong come from a very different background from you – they may be used to doing things very differently. Even if they have had a long and successful relationship with other families in Hong Kong, it doesn’t mean the role they had there suits you and your family.
The clearer the role is defined from the beginning, the easier the rest will be. You are the employer and it’s your job to explain to your employee what their duties are. The more they know what you expect from them, the fewer mistakes and misunderstandings there will be.
Firstly, you’ll need to decide what type of role you want your helper to take. To avoid conflict, make sure you and your partner both agree on this from the outset. To help you to create a job description, we have created a list that will help you to define their role. Pick and choose and create a list on your own terms.
- Define how, what and when you want your helper to care for your baby. Many mums and dads will want to take over the parenting as soon as they get home, so then your helper takes on the housekeeper role when the parents are home – unless they are specifically asked to do differently. Tell them from the beginning how you would like the roles to be defined – don’t assume that your helper understands this. They may find this difficult – leaving the baby totally to you when you have been at work all day – and may feel they are not being “helpful”. Be very clear about this kind of thing and explain in such a way so as to see WHY you are asking for this.
- Define what you want your helper to do when they are with your baby. Make it clear if you don’t want them to do domestic work at the same time as caring for the baby – perhaps with the exception when the baby is sleeping. Make it clear that the baby is top priority, even if the house is not perfect – many helpers feel they are not doing their job properly if the apartment is not spotless, or that you may think the same.
- Clear instructions on how and when to feed the baby, when the baby normally sleeps etc. Make sure they understand all of it and that the baby should never be left unattended under any circumstances. Again, do not assume this.
- Create a rough schedule on how your helper and baby spends the day. Babies get bored if they are always in the same environment. Break up the day with a trip to the playroom – a walk in the park or pre-arranged playgroups or playdates. Sometimes the helpers will start to organise playdates etc – make sure you are comfortable with that and you are involved in them starting to create their own schedule. Talk about this.
- Explain how you would like them to report to you after caring for the baby: how many nappy changes there were during the day, what your baby ate or didn’t eat and how much.
- Create a communication plan and an emergency list of action. Define in detail how you would want them to proceed in case of emergency. This is good to do with professionals and as a part of a formal education.
- Talk about affection and how and what you find acceptable – can your helper kiss the baby or say “I love you”? Define and talk about it in advance.
- Explain if you don’t ever want them to leave the baby with anybody else.
At the same time as you want to be relatively specific, try not to make it too complicated. Make sure your helper understands what you mean, show them how to do things hands on and ask them to repeat. Start the training gradually and hand over the baby first minute by minute – then in slightly longer sessions until you are ready to leave the baby with your helper for a whole day. Everyone is learning.
Good luck, mamas!