We all know that mamas have the hardest job in the world, and that’s why we sometimes need a little bit of additional help to get everything on that ever-increasing list ticked off. Luckily, Hong Kong is full of services that can lighten the load and bring a little Zen to even the most harried parents! Here are some of our go-tos we think should be in your rolodex.
CHILDCARE + HELPERS
While many of us have a regular helper, friend or relative on call, sometimes it’s good to have backup. Helpers quit (or are asked to leave… eek), friends and family sometimes travel and this can you leave you stuck. If you’re heading back to work after maternity leave, have a newborn who is denying the household any sleep or an unexpected work project leaves you in the lurch temporarily, your very own Mary Poppins is just a call away.
Second Nurture Nannies provide experienced childcare professionals on an ad-hoc or regular basis and will diligently check references and insist on CRB checks and First Aid certificates to provide you with maximum piece of mind. They can also help to coordinate nanny shares between two families if you feel that you only need someone part time.
Run by UK-trained paediatric nurse Sue Beer, In Safe Hands can organise help from Maternity Nurses to one-off babysitters and regular Nannies. If your newborn is ruling the roost and you’d give anything for a night of unbroken sleep, Sue’s team can come and take care of Junior for as many nights as you need, ensuring that you catch up on some rest.
If you need to bring out the big guns to squash bedtime dramas, Infant Sleep Resources should be your first call. Sleep expert and trained UK paediatric nurse Deborah Taylor can get your infant and toddler on track for a good night’s sleep in no time with methods personalised for whatever tricky situation you’re facing.
If your helper’s cooking could use a bit of help, there are two great cooking schools to consider. Superhelper, a nice little cooking school in Deepwater Bay, offers in-depth Western as well as Asian cooking classes and is run by a lovely Filipina lady. All classes are very hands on and your helper will bring food home for you to try after each lesson. Another great option is Towngas in Causeway Bay, the iconic HK cooking school has been teaching helpers a range of cuisines for over 40 years.
The Family Zone is run by a UK trained nurse and provides a whole range of support services for Hong Kong parents. Their Helpers Assessment is a great support to busy mums and will really help with piece of mind, particularly when leaving children in the care of a new employee. An assessor will observe the Helper’s day to day work, giving feedback and making recommendations for additional training where required.
The Working Mothers’ Club at baby and maternity specialists Annerley is a great way for busy working mums to get some baby time during their lunch hour. Conveniently timed right after the Helpers and Baby playgroup from 10am – 12pm on a Wednesday and located in Central, the Mums group meets from 12pm-1pm and gives professional parents the opportunity to reconnect with their bub during the working day.
HOUSE + HOME
Helper on leave and the apartment is starting to look like a landfill site? Call Merry Maids for a reliable, (and crucially, legal) temporary or regular part-time cleaner to set you straight. All cleaners are trained, reference checked, and are covered by employer’s insurance which protects you from any liability if they were to have an accident in your home. Your pad will be pristine before you know it!
For your furry family members, holiday time can often be quite stressful. The unfamiliar environment of a kennel or cattery can cause anxiety and confusion and they will often take a while to re-settle into regular routines. Wish You Were Here offer pet sitting services in their own home, with daily visits for feeding, walking and grooming all in familiar surroundings. They’ll also deal with any training issues you may have if Fido’s misbehaving, freeing you up for some nice long dog walks.
Dr David Gething is the man you need on speed-dial for any pet health issues. As Principal Veterinarian for Creature Comforts, Dr David offers housecalls for animal wellness checks, vaccinations and even dentistry, and can arrange transportation to their animal hospital where necessary. They also offer a delivery service for animal food and medications, which is super-convenient, especially for Hong Kong animal lovers without a car.
Got a newly mobile toddler but no idea how to go about babyproofing? The Family Zone’s Home Safety Assessment will set you straight. An assessor will review your home based on the specific ages of your kids and produce a report with any safety risks highlighted, taking the guesswork out of safeguarding the little ones.
On the subject of proofing, Baby Bloom’s Greenproofing service guides clients on how to avoid toxins and other environmental nasties in their homes and ensures that the nursery is as eco-friendly as possible. They also offer baby planning services, helping busy parents to understand the myriad of options available to them once junior arrives, from co-sleeping to weaning.
If you feel your apartment is lacking a certain homeliness, how about this amazing service from Pacific Petals? Their flower subscription offer a choice of weekly, bi-weekly or monthly flower delivery to your door with 3 gorgeous styles to choose from. Take your pick and they do the rest, winging a fabulous bouquet to you as often as you require and adding a beautiful splash of colour to your home. We think this would make a great gift for a special friend or relative or even a special anniversary gift from the man in your life (feel free to leave this page open if you think he needs a hint!)
Fancy whipping up a tasty meal minus the schlepping around? Check out Sarah’s guide to organic food in Hong Kong. Many of the companies offer home delivery, taking the hassle out of sourcing ingredients and leaving you time to perfect that soufflé! If the prep part leaves you cold but you’re handy with a pan, try Secret Ingredient. You simply choose a recipe, and they will deliver the ingredients to your door, washed, chopped and ready to cook. The best bit? Their recipes all take under 30 minutes and you still get all the credit for whipping up a fabulous feast!
Alternatively, if cooking isn’t your thing at all but you’ve rather rashly invited 6 people round to your place for a dinner party after work on Friday night, leaving you only an hour to prepare the food and get yourself ready (yep, this one’s from experience!) then Andrea Oschetti is your man. Andrea runs Cuore Private Chef, and will create a delicious four-course home-style Italian meal in your kitchen, even offering a cooking class as he makes dinner if you want to pick up some tips.
One of the best bits about living in HK is the plethora of brilliant food delivery options available online. Here are a few tried and tested Sassy Mama faves, guaranteed to cheer up your evening meal! South Stream Seafoods specialise in jet-fresh imported fish and shellfish, all safely produced and minimally packaged to offer the most sustainable possible alternative to store-bought fish. The Porterhouse delivers the kind of steaks that you could cut with a spoon and plenty of top quality butchery, dairy and storecupboard items besides. Porterhouse manager and trained chef James Fortier really knows his meat and is available to hire to create the perfect grill in the comfort of your own home. Homegrown Foods offer amazing fresh veg boxes, all locally produced so without the usual guilt over food miles, and with delicious recipe ideas to boot. Last but not least, for the sort of home cooking that will win you serious brownie points with the fam (without the home cooking!), Tai Tai Pie Pies are your go-to pie guys! Choose from hearty savouries like Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom but make sure you leave room for dessert (Tart Cherry Sweet Crumble pie, anyone?).
If you feel like you need a serious wardrobe tune-up but have no idea where to begin. The Changing Room comprise lovely ladies Jess and Pier and they are here to dig you out of that style rut! They’ll take a fine toothcomb to your closet and identify any serious style mishaps to ditch, suggest ways of reworking your existing clothes to freshen up your look and send you away with a shopping list for filling in any fashion gaps. Organised wardrobe = organised mama!
If your skin suffers in the HK heat and humidity (and let’s face it, whose doesn’t?), or the contents of your makeup bag are too embarrassing to get out in the ladies’ room at work then you need a Glamabox subscription! The ladies at Glamabox will do all the trial and error legwork for you and sort out the real cosmetic gems from the marketing hype. They’ll then post you a delightful box of beauty goodies once a month, along with tips and tricks for how to get the most from your products. Voila, fresh-faced without the beauty counter hard-sell.
If you have a big event coming up but no time to try new makeup styles, Jaime at Smudge is your lady. She can help you out for a one-off event, create beautiful bridal looks and also offers beauty lessons so that you can recreate a little of her magic yourself later.
If you’ve got a beach holiday coming up but are pressed for time for those essential little areas of maintenance, then make sure you contact Shabnam. She and her team of sisters can come to your home for eyebrow threading, bleaching and facials. Her speciality is waxing, and the word on the street is that she’s about as painless as it gets – praise indeed!
For your crowning glory, Le Exclusif’s stylist Laurianne can turn your bathroom into a salon for a few hours and set you up with a cool new cut, bouncy blowdry or sophisticated updo without the trek across town, lukewarm coffee or out of date magazines!
This article was written by Sassy Mama contributor Kate Farr.