Showing posts with label Maid issues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maid issues. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Moms with maids - the dilemmas of a FTWM.

Hi guys! As promised in my previous post, I am now sharing my woes about my maid having a boyfriend.
Not too long before Chinese New Year, I was playing with the kids in the playroom (also my helper's bedroom). As she was charging her handphone on her mattress, Adam happened to press her phone and showed me this photo:
A photo of her and her Bangladeshi boyfriend. As you can see, the man was caressing her from behind and staring at her chest. He arm was also placed across the chest.
As it was Adam who chanced upon the photo and showed me, my immediate reactions were disgust and worry.
We travel, or are at least away at staycations several times a year. I'm just worried that she might bring men back to our home without our knowledge.
And no, we do not have CCTV installed because we didn't see the need to when the maid and kids are at my MIL's during the day and only come home in the evenings after we fetch them.
Since this incident, I have questioned her about it and warned her that if I ever hear our neighbours mention, or we catch her red-handed bringing strangers to our home or stealing from us, we will send them to the police for theft and trespassing and we will also send her back immediately.
My family, in-laws, Andy and I have discussed about this issue over and over ever since we found out and my friends / colleagues and I have debated about this fiercely over gatherings and lunch-time chatter.
We have come to a conclusion that we will still keep her.
Reason being she has 2 days-off a month, and she is entitled to do what she wants on her days off.
The MOM law states that foreign domestic helpers are not allowed to get pregnant otherwise they will be repatriated back to their country, but no mention has been made about them not allowed to have boyfriends.
Besides, we found this photo of her and her boyfriend in her handphone. We did not personally catch them in the act in our home.
In such a scenario, will you still keep your helper?
In Singapore, I think most working Moms will face maid problems, give and take the seriousness of the "problems".
Life-giver vs caregiver: this is the constant (almost) daily battle I face as a FTWM who has to depend on a foreigner to "mother" my children.
As much as I try to leave work on time, spend time with my kids on weekends, take leave during school holidays, I simply cannot be there for their every single moment.
Moments where they need help in simple tasks like getting dressed/ a change of diaper/ toileting needs/ feeding... the basic activities of daily living and I am not the one to provide such care for them.
It's driving me insane.
Lately, due to a shortage of manpower in my department, I have had to work on almost every Saturday till the late afternoon.
The only times I have to my family, I spend locked up in my room catching up on lost sleep.
 My kids want to go to the playground on a weekend evening but all I can muster is enough energy to instruct my son, to ask our maid to bring them down.
The last thing I need right now, is to deal with BGR problems of someone totally not related to me but whom my kids have to depend on!
Fun times.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My 4 year old has been naughty lately.

Today, when I came back from work, I heard from my husband and maid that Adam had been rude and disrespectful this morning while waiting for his school bus.
For the past few mornings since last week, I worked the 8.30am shift at my centre, and Adam's school bus pick-up is at 8am daily, so I brought him to wait for his bus every morning.
It happens that there is a patch of mimosa on the grass near the pick-up point (which is at the side of the road) so under my supervision I let him touch the mimosa during our wait.
My rule is - never go to the road-side, and always come back when I tell him to.
This morning, I had to reach work at 8am so I let my helper send Adam down.
As usual, he was playing with the mimosa and one aunty happened to pass by and commented that there could be "gao sai" (dog shit in Hokkien) on the grass.
My helper then asked Adam to come back to her side, which he disobeyed.
He replied that dogs will shit at the side near the pavement, not near the road (what is he? 10?!)
As it was a time with morning traffic, I had always warned him to be careful and listen to whichever adult was with him. And he broke my rule this morning.
When I came home from work and heard about this incident, I was mad at Adam.
I reprimanded him and removed his iPad privilege for the evening and nagged at him over and over about the importance of safety and the consequences of not listening to his caregiver.
Thing is, he is only like this when he is with my helper as he knows that she is not the "boss" nor his Mommy.
I've tried time and time again to make him obey the maid - I talk/ reason/ spank/ threaten.... until I have no more saliva, and it is driving me crazy.
I know it is unreasonable to, and I never expect a domestic helper to be a disciplinarian and mother to my children, but these are some of the issues faced by working Moms on a day-to-day basis.
And these issues are very real. Issues of your children's safety resting on a non-family member's shoulders, issues of caregiver substituting lifegiver.
It's impossible for me to be there to police his behaviour all the time, and by the time I reach home to do that, it would easily have been 10 hours later.
My maid is not worry-free, either.
Not too long ago, slightly before Chinese New Year, we found out (through Adam, horror of horrors!) a photo of her with a Bangladeshi man hugging her from behind.
** I will share about this issue in another post.

It is a known fact to our friends and relatives that Adam and Ashton are polar opposites in terms of their character and behaviours.
In all due fairness, Adam is a darling who will plant kisses on you, says he loves you, and he is a happy pill who is hardly angry or unhappy. 
He is a very kinetic child, who thrives on being on the move. He is also witty and vocal.
Both my kids are different from each other, and I love them differently.
For Ashton, I love him tenderly and affectionately. He is a sweet, quiet little child who is happy by my existence alone. He's the easy baby who makes parenthood a joy.
For Adam, I love him intensively and impulsively. When he hugs, he hugs with all his might. When he laughs, his laughter is etched on my mind for a long time. He is intense and does things never in half-measures.
 As I always say, I love my children differently, but I love them all the same.
I just wish parenting could be a wee bit easier. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maid updates.

Hi all, Adam has thrown up all over his bed ... again... this is the second time in as many weeks.
Here I am wide awake on a Monday night (luckily tomorrow's a PH yay!) with nothing better to do than to soak and wash bedsheets and do a little bit of blogging.

Remember I posted a coupla months ago about my maid resigning and wanting to go home?
Well since then we have employed another maid and wisen up.

First of all, if your maid has not finished her 2-year contract with you, even though she is a transfer maid/ her passport is expiring/ her WP is expiring (due to being a transfer maid), you are not obliged to pay for her one-way air ticket home.
As a matter of fact, when she expresses that she has no more intention of working for you, you should quickly book her a next available flight out, let her know on the same day that this will be her last day and ask her to pack her luggage in front of you, and check that she did not steal anything from your household.
Pay her her pro-rated salary minus the air ticket, send her to the airport and make sure you see her go into the custom checkpoint at Departure.

For the past year that my first maid has been with me, we made many "first-timer" mistakes.
On hindsight, upon analysing her behaviour and on comparison with my current maid (second maid), I found out that my first maid was not as good as my current one.
Here are some instances.

- We let her have her own room (the kids' Play room) and her own wardrobe all to herself and tried to make her feel "at home".
- I know in many Singaporean families, the kids sleep with the maid but in our household, she has never had to sleep with the kids at all and did not have to wake up in the middle of the night to tend to my children.

- We gave her angpaos on Hair Raya Puasa and Haji, my MIL even brought her to buy clothes, and we gave her PH on top of her day-off that month even though she only worked for us a couple of months. On CNY our families and relatives also gave her angpaos where I know from my colleagues it is not necessary for relatives to give your maid angpaos.

- I always accommodated her requests for days-off and arranged for my MIL to come over to help me instead of negotiating with her.

- We treated her reasonably well and did not abuse her, but noticed that she liked to talk back and give excuses even though we don't scold her. Towards the end of her 1-year with us, I had had enough of her attitude and started reprimanding her whenever she made mistakes and answered back.
For eg. Once, during my confinement after delivering Ashton, Adam dropped something behind his toy rack in the Play room (which is also her bedroom), so when I shifted the toy shelf out to retrieve his toy, I saw a lot of dust and told her to clean as it was dusty. She then answered me that it was not dust. I asked her what she thought it was, and she mumbled "dust is not like that Mam" and walked off.

- Every Tuesday evening, the Yakult aunty will come to my MIL's place to deliver Yakult. Out of courtesy and making conversation, the aunty casually asked my first maid "What's your name?", my maid replied the Yakult aunty "Why do you need to know?" much to my horror and astonishment.

- She gradually became more and more daring. There was once she walked around at night after showering, in a tank top and not wearing any bra. I thought it was because she was going to bed and I also sleep without bra, so I didn't pursue the matter. But the next morning, she was still wearing the tank top and doing her chores bra-less. As I'm the only female in the family, I found it inappropriate and told her to go and change and never go around sleeve-less and bra-less again.

- No matter how nice we treat her, bringing her out to eat with us on weekends, she was not contented and not happy. My guess is that on her days-off, she would go out with her friends and start comparing salaries/ number of days off/ bosses etc. Why do I say that?
Because she would often tell my MIL that her friend very lucky, just came to Singapore as a maid and got 4 days-off a month. Or she would tell my MIL her friend's salary very high.
Once, we were going on a family cruise and decide to let her stay at home, and she commented to me that her cousin, also working as a maid in Singapore, has a very good employer who brought her on their family holiday to HK. I then asked her how long her cousin has been working for that family? She replied me 10 years. Then I told her "Because your cousin work for them so long that's why. Maybe she's very good otherwise after 2 years will send her back wont renew her until 10 years".
There are many other things she liked to compare which I can't remember off-hand.

- She became increasingly vain during her span of employment. She would wear pretty dresses and bought different shoes for different outfits whenever she goes out on her days-off. I know because I would sit in the living room feeding the kids breakfast or watching cartoons with them and she had to walk past us when she left the house.
I sometimes wonder does she try on my designer shoes or clothes when nobody is home. Or worse, use my makeup! That's why she became more and more vain?? But since she was wearing those clothes on her day off, I had no intention of questioning her and just let her be.

- She became more and more lazy and "sian". When washing rice or vegetables, she would swirl the rice with one hand, and put her other hand on her waist. Same as when we eat outside, she shares the same table as us and I often see her poking around her food with her spoon on one hand and her other hand rest on her chin. I told her off that some people don't have money to eat and there she was acting like eating is such a difficult chore for her.

- When my first maid was working with us, we had to buy toilet-bowl cleaner (Duck), dishwashing liquid and other detergents almost every week. Mind you, we are seldom home cos we leave home at 8am every morning and after Adam boards the school bus, Andy will send my maid and Ashton to my MIL's house all the way till evening when we go to my MIL's for dinner then go home. How she manages to finish detergents so fast really beats me.
Later on when she left and I was maid-less for about 2 months, I had to do the housework myself and then realised that my first maid was very wasteful! She probably poured the detergents out by the bottle just to make us waste money.

-  On the weekend before she told me she wanted to resign, it was her day-off and my MIL had came over to help me with Ashton as I had to send Adam for his Sunday swim classes.
My MIL then took the opportunity to spot-check her wardrobe and found that the cabinets have been cleared except for a few items of home-clothes, and 90% of her belongings were already packed neatly into her suitcase (she had a small suitcase in her room).
This is evidence that she already does not have the heart to work.

- When she said she wanted to resign, we kept her another 2 weeks because of logistics arrangement and we were sourcing for another maid. During that 2 weeks after her resignation, she requested for a day off on a weekday because she wanted to go to the bank to close the account. My MIL told her DBS any branch can close account, and there is a branch in Tampines, but she insisted on going to Dhoby Ghaut branch, as she told my MIL that she opened the account there.
We relented and let her go.
Several days later, my MIL and my maid were at Tampines 201 market and she went to POSB ATM to withdraw cash. My MIL asked her "I thought you closed your account few days ago??" my maid lied to my MIL that DBS did not allow her to close the account as she still had money inside.
The worst thing is, my MIL was naïve enough to believe her, and she didn't tell me this incident till after she left.

- After she left, I searched my drawer for her folder (the agent gave us a folder with her WP details, her biodata, my income tax details and all important documents) as I wanted to check MOM online whether her WP cancellation was successful. I could not find my folder anywhere no matter how sure I am where I kept it (we don't leave important documents lying around for her to see, especially not her own information!). I believe she has stolen it.

Overall, I would say that her performance was average. My rationale was that as long as she got the chores done, we would close one eye, also because the new MOM legislations for maid salary increase and compulsory weekly day-off made it an uphill task for working Mums to change maids (spend so much money and have to take leave to retrain another helper) so we'd rather put up with our first helper's nonsense.

 From this incident, I have learned to be wiser and not be too lenient to my future maids.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

No-maid: Week 2.

We've been through several more biodata, but still couldn't find a suitable candidate. As it's now the Hari Raya fasting month followed by Raya itself, it's hard to get an Indonesian now.
We looked at Myanmese maids but most of them are very fussy and not willing to look after babies and young children.
Sometimes I wonder whether these maids are genuinely here to earn a living or to have an all-expenses paid holiday. Throw in free medical checkups every 6-monthly.

We showed some interview video clips to Adam, and he had explicitly declared that he does not want another maid.

It's hard to blame him I guess, especially when our previous maid liked to mimic the children crying or whining.
Or when she starts singing out-of-tune music. It makes him extremely annoyed.
When we sent her off to the airport, he wasn't sad or emotional or sad at all.

Right now, we're still trying to find the balance between work, family and housework.
Everyday is like a race against time - soaking and washing kids' clothes, adult clothes, boil water, mop the floor once every 2 days, wash and sterilise bottles, prepare Adam's uniform and school bag.
We've engaged a part-time maid to come in on Sunday when Adam is at swim class, to do the major chores like scrubbing toilets and general cleaning.

I've never been one to baby-talk to my children, and I always make it a point to listen to Adam's opinions and decisions, especially when it comes to family matters.
I feel it is important to respect and listen to our children's needs, so when Adam resisted the idea of having another maid, Andy & I discussed it and decided to KIV the maid plan for now.

I just hope I can continue to cope! What worries me is when the time comes for me to supervise Adam's school-work or attend to Ashton's growing needs, I cannot split myself into so many persons.

AIYO my slitty-eyed baby Ashton Tan Tian Yang.

Mr Adam Tan Tian Kai #likeabigboss

Adam snapped a photo of me using my Canon Powershot. This boy loves taking photos, just like me!
I'm about to go wash the kids' clothes :P
It sure is exhausting as hell, but the smiles on my children's faces make my daily fight and struggles worth while. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Story about my maid, and how I manage without live-in help.

When my maid initially told me she did not intend to extend her WP but instead wanted to go back to Indonesia, I was in a panic.
Who was going to get the chores done?
Who was going to help out with the kids? Especially at meal times with family and friends?
Who was going to keep tabs on the perishables in the household?

However, when push comes to shove, you will somehow find your inner strength.
It's been a week without maid for us now.

On retrospect, I thought of the advantages of having live-in help, but also examined the cons of it.

Advantages of live-in help:

- Housework is taken care of, obviously.

- Can spend the time on kids instead of doing chores.

- Having an extra pair of hands at home who can help to receive parcels / deliveries / open door for groomer to pickup & dropoff Mavy / etc.

Disadvantages of live-in help:

Ever heard of the saying "Too many cooks spoil the soup"?
This is what happens when you have 3 women overseeing to the care of your children and household: my MIL, helper and I.
Whenever an instruction has to be passed down, it must be repeated at least twice to the different people. There is also miscommunication, the most common being "I dunno Mam, Ah Ma didn't tell me".
Sometimes, I feel that rather than instructing over and over, it would be faster to accomplish the task myself.

Initially, she was quite good in her work and attitude.
But subsequently, she started getting lazy and even started comparing with other maids on her off days (her friends / relatives who work as maids in Singapore).

- She told me her ex-employer would often drive her and another maid (they had 2 maids) up to KL where their 2nd property was.

- She also said her cousin, who has been working in a family in Singapore for 10 years, is very lucky as her employers bring her travelling on their family trips. Most recently to Hong Kong.

- She told my MIL that her friend, who just came to work in Singapore as a maid, is getting $500/mth with 1 day off per week.

- More things got damaged / lost in the span of her living with us than without.

- Detergents and soap get used up more quickly because she is quite wasteful.

In the grand scheme of things, such matter may seem trivial, but they can indeed be helluva annoying.

So how do I cope without a maid?
- I do the chores in instalments - when the kids are sleeping / when Andy is playing with them.

- I buy diapers / milk powder and household detergents in bulk so that I do not have to frequently keep tabs on them running out.

- Andy helps out in the night when we are all asleep because he sleeps late while I sleep early.

And introducing.... a mighty hardworking machine called Rainbow:

Child labour

Sucking every nook and corner

Rainbow comes equipped a special nozzle for washing of mattresses, and an assortment of other brushes / nozzles which have bristles made of horse hair.
Short of performing kinky favours, it pretty much does everything from mopping of floor to cleaning of mattress to purifying the air.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My week as a SAHM: Adam's new Nursery and maid updates.

I'm on leave this week - Yay!
Adam starts Nursery in his new school this month, so I decided to be with him the first couple of days.
This is our daily routine:
6AM: Wake up and get myself ready for the day.

6:30M: Ashton wakes up for milk.

7:30AM: Wakes sleepyhead Adam up to wash up and get changed into his uniform.
 7:50AM: Waits for school bus downstairs. Needs to hold Mummy's hand before boarding bus.
Love my Mama's boy so much!
8:15AM: The kids reach school. I arrived early on my own to wait for him since I'm not allowed onto the kiddy bus.
This is the canteen where the kids have tea break at 9:15AM - 9:30AM.
 8:30AM: Assembly and into their classrooms they go. This is their courtyard and classroom area.
Different classes take turns at the playground.
They have such large premises!
Surprise, surprise!! From my Facebook status, I found out my cousin's daughter, Noelle, is studying in the same school! But in another class in Pre-N.
Such coincidence! These are my cousin's lovely girls Noelle(3) and Nellie(2).

And since she's not working at the moment, we went for breakfast at Changi City Point la kopi and chatted for hours about our maids/ husbands/ children, while I whatsapped my Aunt about it.
Aunty-ism runs in my family.

My pretty cousin and my niece Nellie!
After school, Adam reaches home at 12:30PM. He has his lunch, drinks milk and watches his iPad, then naps for 2-3 hours.
During this time, if I'm lucky, both kids are asleep and I get to do my blogging / reading etc.
In the evening, we go to the nearby playground:
Ashton #likeaboss. Dig ears and kar-kui kui, watching his brother play.

Back home, at about 9PM, the kids play a bit before bed. By 10PM, I chase them into their room as I'm quite ready to collapse.
By the way, as I was telling you about the topic of my Indonesian maid in the previous post, she dropped the bombshell that she does not intend to extend her work permit and that she would like to go back.
Her WP is due to expire by 31st July 2013.
That leaves us less than a month to have the admin sorted out - closing her bank account and getting them to stop sending her statements to our residence, booking her flight, cancelling her WP, asking our agent to find a replacement maid, etc.
Andy & I browsed through several Biodata but have yet to come across anyone suitable (1 Burmese is a Bach of Arts holder but English is rated poor; the others are either asking too much or do not fit our criteria).
All new candidates request for 2 days off per month. Weekends are the busiest period for us and without the help on 2 out of 4 weekends, it defeats the purpose of my hiring a maid really.
Bottom line: It's hard to get good help these days!

So here I am, stranded with 2 under 5 and still very much holding my full-time job.
Thankfully, Andy & I are alike in many ways. We share the same attitudes toward finances, holiday choices, and most other things in life.
He's Ok with me either decision I make - and I intend to go maid-less for the time being and enjoy some of the privacy we lost over the past year. Until we throw in the towel, that is.
It sure feels great not having an extra mouth to feed/ person to clothe/ pay $600 per month for.
The only downside is: we get no babysitter when out for meals with family & friends. A bit overwhelming when both kids demand attention at the same time!
Let's see how long we can go maid-less.
To all the working Mums out there managing your household without a helper, you rock!
I would also love to hear tips from you.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Indonesian maid passport and work permit renewal

It's been a year since our helper, Dwi, has been with us. How time flies!
I recently had her Work Permit and passport renewed, so if your Indonesian maid's passport needs renewal, here are the steps you need to undertake:

1) Prepare photocopies of the following: your NRIC front & back, your maid's WP front & back, and her current passport's first and last 2 pages.

2) Go to Indonesian Embassy at Chatsworth Road near Gleneagles Hospital.
Embassy opening hours: 09:00AM - 12:00PM Mondays to Fridays.
You must be dressed in proper attire: no flip flops, no singlet or camisole, no shorts and bermudas.

3) Take Q number inside the embassy first, the rest can wait.
Then fill up the Passport renewal form while waiting for your turn. If you forgot items in Point 1, take this waiting time to go and get these photocopied at SGD$1.
We arrived at 9:30am and our Q was already 40. The counter was serving Q12.

4) After you have submitted the necessary documents at the counter, you will be issued a payment slip of $35 for your maid's passport renewal.

5) Your maid will then be called by name into their office to take her photograph.

6) Proceed to Level 2 for an interview (you and your helper will be interviewed by one of the Embassy staff) where you will talk about her new contract terms. According to MOM and the Indonesian Embassy, wef Jan 2013, all Indonesian helpers must be entitled 1 day off per week.
After discussion at the interview, Dwi's new contract states her salary as $450 per month (up from $420), and 1 day off a month (as per her current contract).

7) Your helper's new passport will be ready in 3 days' time.

We arrived at 9:30AM and was done at 11:30AM.

Dwi came to us as a transfer maid so although the standard contract states 2 years, hers was only 1 year. That is the reason why we have to get her documents renewed after her working 1 year with us.
Work-wise, I think Dwi is still considered above-average.
- She is clean in her work and honest.
- We can put our wallets lying around the tables and not worry that our money will go missing.
- She washes her hands before handling the kids.
- She can cook and follows instructions well.

However, according to my MIL, whenever they go to the market (when Andy & I are at work), when she speaks to other helpers or people they meet at the market, she would tell them she's going home next year (at the end of her 2 years contract with us).
I think she misses her home because by the end of her contract with me, she would have been working in Singapore for close to 4 years without any home leave (because of her Transfer status).
So if she wants to go home, I have to let her go. And my problem of maid-searching and shortlisting will begin.
Maids. Most of us can't stand them, but more of us can't do without them either.

By the way, *someone* woke up bright and early and insisted on putting on his gawky Angry Birds YELLOW cap with his Spiderman sunnies and his matching BLUE Mickey Mouse slippers (all accessories bought by different Grandparents. Dohh).

 When we got to the Embassy, it became apparent that he must've heard me mentioning to Dwi and Andy in passing about "passport", because he kept asking if we are boarding the plane yet.
Are we boarding the plane yet?? Er hello dear son, why you so cute one?!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Maids Salary review

Hiring an Indonesian maid will be more expensive by year's end.
Employers hiring such maids from November will have to sign a contract with a clause stipulating that the maid must be paid at least $450.
Another clause will state that if she works on all her four weekly rest days each month, she has to be paid another $70, or $17.50 for each day off she works.
These two clauses will be in the contracts issued by the Indonesian government. But how far they will go to ensure Indonesian maids are compensated fairly depends on the rigour of enforcement - and the Indonesian Embassy's record in this has been patchy "

Screenshot taken from the above website

Hubby emailed me this link above to share with me the new policies on hiring Indonesian maids w.e.f. November 2012, and then he promptly said "Heng we employ early".

Currently, our helper is drawing a salary of $420 with 1 day-off per month, up from her previous contract of $360 without days-off/mth from her previous employer.
$420 is not much difference from the $450 which the clause stipulates, but bear in mind that nowadays most agencies charge $450 as starting pay for non-experienced maids.

I'm curious - Is it considered heng (lucky) to incur $800/mth ($450 salary + $170 Govt levy + misc for food/toiletries) for that extra pair of helping hands in the household?

Here are what a couple of my Mummy friends think:

It may be hard to believe, seeing as what a sybarite I am, but on average, my monthly credit card bills hardly exceed $500 and my hp bill is only $70/mth ($50 subscription + $10 iPad tag-on SIM-card + caller ID). Therefore, I don't even spend $800 on my bills, but I spend this amount on my helper every month.

Even if I engage my Part-time helper to come in twice weekly, it will only be half the amount every month. Moreover, I do not have to worry about feeding and clothing her, her getting pregnant, contracting STDs from casual sex on her days-off, lack of privacy in the house, and attitude or behavioral issues and the like.

More importantly, it appears to be a steep uphill task for Singaporean couples who want to start families. Obviously, a child will need taking care of for at least 10 years.
For many Singaporean parents, the task of caregiver is often on domestic helpers.

Do you think you will continue employing maids if their salaries increase significantly?
For those considering starting families, will you delay or even stop having children?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My brood :)

Still can't quite believe that I can proudly say "my brood" now. What a surreal feeling, this Mom-of-two thing :)

I'm very proud of Adam. He has wowed me again, when I least expected it.

"What is this Mummy? Is it a doll? A puppy?"

Adam is very protective of Ashton, although he displays jealousy sometimes.
For eg. When the helper gets close to the baby, he will tell her to go away, in a very protective, authoritative way.
Last evening I was holding Ashton and telling him to wake up otherwise if he is wide awake at night I will smack his bum.
Adam heard me and he cried, telling me, "Mummy don't beat Didi." Such a sweet child!
By the way, our helper the clucky mother hen has been found to be a bit obsessive at the moment. She has been noticed to be staring at the baby many a time.
Not in a "icy cold murderous look" way, but just... staring.
In the mornings, I ask her to put Ashton in his rocker in the balcony to get some sun (for his jaundice), when I wake up an hour later, she is still sitting beside the rocker and doing nothing but staring at Ashton.
In the middle of the night, when Ashton cries for milk, she will wake up and ask me if she can feed the baby. This morning, she actually suggested that I let the baby sleep with her. I asked her why would I want to do that? Her reason was so that I could rest at night. I then told her that I can rest in the day if I'm tired but she has to work, so she'd better get her proper sleep at night.
She later reasoned that since I'm "not breastfeeding at night, can let her sleep with the baby". Making a bottle or two in the middle of the night doesn't mean I'm not breastfeeding at night, and what kind of audacity is that to suggest I let my baby sleep with her?

I told my MIL, Aunt LY and Hubs about it and they found it bizarre too.
My MIL told me that sometimes when we do not notice, our helper will kiss Ashton.
What???!! I told my MIL to please tell her off the next time she catches her doing that.
In my household, no kissing or sharing food with my children! They are my babies and Hubs & I kiss them all the time, the thought that we could have been unknowingly ingesting her saliva makes me want to throw up!!

My Aunt asked if it's because she misses her son and is therefore treating my baby this way?
Am I being over-sensitive? Or is my helper going overboard in her displays of affection to my children?

My head might explode.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Our Maid agency

source: Google images

I received a few enquiries through the Blog comments and also from Facebook asking me maid-related questions, eg. which Agency I got my maid from, how much did we pay etc etc. so I decided to do a blog post on the Agency we chose, so as to minimise the inconvenience of readers having to email or private-message me on FB.

Before I go on, I would like to clarify that this post is not about advocating or lobbying for/against SAHMs/ FTWMs with helpers etc.

It was by chance and lots of Googling that I came across:
A. Pratama Employment Agency
Who to look for: Demond / Susan

Tel: 6297 6913
Office: Bukit Timah Shopping Centre (next to Beauty World) #02-45, 170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 588179.
they open by appointment only as they are a husband-and-wife team, so please call to fix an appointment before you head down.
They do not advertise and prefer referrals by word-of-mouth so you may say Veron recommended you.

Our review:
Before we approached Desmond & Susan, I had called up several Big-name Maid agencies.
Most of them charged atrocious agency fees, and their maids came with loans of 6-8 months.

If you do the math, for eg. Agency fee $488 (cheapest I was quoted) + $400 (fresh maid w/o experience, 1 with experience could fetch $450) x 6 months upfront loan (the shortest loan quoted) = $2888 cash upfront to the Agency.
This is considering the cheapest possible option. Of course there are agencies who charged higher agent fees and/or longer maid loans. The longer the maid loan, the longer the maid has to work for you without a salary. Imagine working 8 months without getting paid.
And the amount above is only the Agency fee + maid loan.

Other costs incurred:
- Online Employer Orientation Program: a short course with quiz which is mandatory for all new first-time employers. $30.
- Maid insurance: Depending on the Insurance provider and the coverage, ranging from $280 - $310.

Total: easily $3300.

For us, we couldn't afford to pay the agency few thousands of dollars cash upfront before the maid even arrived in Singapore. Well we could, but we didn't want to. It just sounded like a big risky business and the agencies gave us the impression they were only interested in getting our $$.
Just think about it - What if we need to terminate her employment while still having an outstanding loan?!
So after finding out about Desmond & Susan, I called them and told them our situation - we have a 3 yr old and expecting another child soon, we need a helper to do mostly household chores & some babysitting when required.
Susan told us they deal mostly with Indonesian Transfer maids (who are mostly abused/ ran away from home/ worked for more than 1 household and found out by authorities/ rejected for whatever reasons) and asked me our requirements, which I stated as follows:
- Need to like working with children
- Responsible and mature, preferably already married with kid(s)
- Be able to speak both Bahasa & English (my MIL is Indonesian-Chinese but I can speak no Bahasa)
- Help with mainly housework and some babysitting
- We have a big dog who doesn't bite and she doesn't need to look after the dog

I called them on a Wednesday evening and our appointment was made that coming Saturday noon.
By Friday evening, Susan already SMSed me saying she has selected a few suitable candidates for us to interview when we go down. We were very impressed with her fast & prompt service.

When we went down, Desmond spent close to 2 hours explaining to us page-by-page the MOM requirements and the necessary 'admin' because Andy & I were first-timers and very blur. But they never lost their patience with us and made sure we understood what was expected.
In fact, we went down twice, a seperate time with my Mom and Adam to make sure they were both Ok with our shortlisted candidate. On both occasions, Desmond & Susan were very accomodating and Desmond even repeated all the T&C to my Mom.

Bottomline: Because our helper was a transfer maid with only 1-mth loan (out of goodwill to Desmond & Susan for helping her find re-employment), we only spent less than $1.5k in total for the Agency fee, Dwi's loan, Insurance etc, ie. Everything done under $1.5k and we got ourselves an experienced maid already available in Singapore ready to work for us and were provided excellent responsible service.

A further search revealed some reviews as follows:
source: KiasuParents forum


** Disclaimer: I will not hesitate to recommend Desmond & Susan to friends , relatives or anyone who asked me, but Maid agencies are like match-making companies. They help you find your "partner" but whether the "marriage" lasts is totally up to good faith and lots of luck.
Therefore, I wish you Best of luck if you're considering hiring help!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Update: 2 weeks of having live-in help

So far, our entire household has been enjoying the help of a helper.
Life with a helper has become almost like a luxury. We wake up to a clean house, breakfast, and I have someone keeping tabs on the perishable supplies in the fridge.
We also recently had some friends over for a bbq & compared to the last BBQ we had, this time was such a breeze because we had extra help - with the food preparation, serving, scrubbing of grease etc.
As for all the horror stories we hear about maids, well, nobody is perfect. Dwi is not a Superwoman. She makes mistakes here & there , for eg. She didn't clip the Laundry with pegs & during a heavy rain some lightweight clothes got blown off onto our aircon latch. And some other things, but nothing too major that I can't live with.
As for the little master? He's still not taking to her, but it's not bothering me much because the extra pair of hands around the house frees up lots of quality time for me & Adam. No more wishing he could sleep/nap so that I can sneak in time for chores. I can now concentrate more of my time on playing or reading to Adam. It's a win-win.

Here're some tips I gathered from friends & colleagues which I thought might be useful for Moms considering hiring helpers:
- Provide specific & detailed House rules from the 1st day eg. No kissing & sharing food with children? No using of hp during work hours? What are work hours? In my home it's 6am - 10pm (if she finishes her chores fast she can retire to her room earlier) with rest breaks during the day.

- Color code your cloths. This is important so she knows not to mix the toilet-cleaning ones with dish washing ones.

- Be prepared to demonstrate and ask her to return-demo or repeat your instructions for the 1st time doing something. Eg making milk or using washing machine.

- Give her a daily, weekly & 2-weekly schedule so she knows what is expected of her

- I don't allow her to open my wardrobes. Instead, I ask her to keep the laundry in & I'll put them back myself. I don't want to have a chance to ever suspect her. It's to protect the interests of both parties.

- I keep her passport in a seperate home (with my Aunt LY) becos my ex-supervisor had a maid who took off to her own home country after stealing her own passport & $10k worth of jewelry

So far so good, Dwi hasn't resigned yet, which is a good sign I suppose.
And frankly, I can't be bothered to worry anymore. I'll just enjoy the happy moment while it lasts!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Maid updates

After growing up without a maid, Adam is still not used to the idea of live-in help yet.
Initial few days, he would ask me at bedtime, "Where is Aunty sleeping?", "Where is Aunty's home?" and I have to explain she's sleeping in his Play Room because she has no home and she needs a room to sleep, otherwise she will be very poor thing sleeping in the streets.

Another issue is, he's very annoyed with Dwi following him everywhere.
There are times when he prefers to play alone, but she'll be following closely behind him, which pisses him off.
She's making alot of effort trying to get Adam to accept her and play with her, but I pity Dwi, this boy of mine isn't one to suffer any fools.
He will growl at her (I think he learned the growling from Maverick), and if she doesn't back off, he will cry and shout for Mommeeeeee!!!!
On one hand, here's a 3 year-old who wants to explore independence and autonomy, and on the other hand, I have a helper who's trying so hard to win her new charge over. It sure is tough.

I have to constantly assure her to leave him alone to play on his own, even if he falls he has to learn how to get back on his own feet.
I certainly hope she gets the idea one day.
I see many maids chasing after running children these days - at parties, in malls, in general public - a far cry from the "children should be seen, not heard" generation I grew up in. If my brothers or I ever ran amock in public I think my Mum would have given us a good spanking and dragged us home immediately.
Maybe that's why the maids' mentalities nowadays is to follow their little charges everywhere, because God forbid these precious children suffer a scratch?
Classic scenario - Adam is playing with his helicopter, Dwi takes his aeroplanes and initiates play with Adam. Adam gets angry and asks her not to touch his planes and accuses her of "spoiling" his game because apparently it is about Helicopter and not Planes. If she doesn't back off, he cries for me. So far I've been the "referee" to their saga.
He scolds her "I don't want you, I want Mommy!" and things like "Go away!", "Don't touch my toys!", which makes me extremely mortified that my child is being so rude!!
I always explain to him that Aunty has no toys, she doesn't know how to play with toys, can you please share and teach her how to play??
It doesn't work all the time though. When he's already in the midst of his crying and tantrum, it's hard to get anything across his little mind.

** I need to work harder on this Adam vs Dwi issue.

Other than this, Dwi has been quite a good help in our household.
She finishes her cleaning and mopping early in the mornings, and by 7.15am she helps me in getting Adam changed to go to my MIL's (I change his clothes and remove his diaper, she helps me dispose diaper and takes clothes to be washed, since Adam won't let her touch him).
I also taught her how to use the Nespresso, so every morning Andy enjoys a mug of Nespresso and kaya bread.
She uses diluted Dettol to mop the floors, and I'm pleased that the house is so clean everyday that I can not bother about Adam rolling on the floor. In the past, nearing the day where my PT helper comes in every week, the floor would've been littered with hair and some dust.

It's still early days yet. I still have my fingers crossed everyday.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 1: New maid

We fetched our helper, Dwi, from the agency yesterday evening, and by the time we got home after dinner and grocery shopping, it was already 9pm.
I showed Dwi her room, and a simple orientation of the household (where are the switches / toilet/ broom/ mop etc) and told her to retire for the day.

This morning, she woke up at 6am without my instruction and started going about the chores - sweeping, mopping, cleaning common toilet, fixing breakfast for Andy (2 slices of kaya bread & juice as per Hubby's request), and making Adam's bed.
Later on I found out this was her previous household's schedule, which was totally fine by me.
Considering we were out of the house by 8am, she managed all those chores in 2 hours, that means she is quite a fast worker who has quite good time management.

I had initially asked my PT helper to come and show her how to do the chores in our home because I dont know what color cloths she uses for which part of the house.
But seeing that Dwi had already taken the initiative to do everything, our PT maid is not needed to come anymore.

When I woke up this morning, I passed her a notebook with Emergency Contact numbers - Mine, Andy's and my MIL's.
Also, I had 3 golden rules for her with Bahasa translation:
1. Safety / Keselamatan
2. Cleanliness / Kebersihan
3. Honesty / Kejujuran

As for my House Rules, actually also nothing much. Last night she wanted to help me tuck Adam to bed, but Adam didn't want her, so I told her that in the evenings, once she is done with her chores, she can retire to her room because I want to spend time playing and bonding with my child(ren).
This way, Andy & I would still have some privacy to watch TV, use laptop etc when we come home in the evenings.
Her main duty would be 80% household chores, and 20% babysitting when needed.
I'm still the very hands-on Mommy who prefers to do things for Adam on my own - from making his milk to story-telling to putting him to sleep.

As for her Time Table, I wrote down some simple guidelines according to Daily, Weekly, and 2-Weekly schedule. I told her that it is just a guide and if she encounters any problems she should always ask me.

- Handwash Adam's clothes
- Handwash her own clothes
- Sweep and mop floor areas and balcony
- Clean toilets

- Change floor rugs
- Do our laundry (washing machine)
- Change bath towels
- Vacuum floor
- Polish glass and mirror surfaces

- Change bedsheets

* and any other ad-hoc duties as and when required.

I told Dwi that if she has any difficulties or problems, she should always approach me and see if we can work out any solutions.

And how is our young master adapting to his new help?
He still needs to get used to her sleeping in his Play Room, and he doesn't want her to help him with even simple things like : shoes, making milk, playing with him.
I feel quite embarrassed that he's resisting Dwi's help but I told her he's shy and he is not used to it so give him some more time.

I need to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all my Mummy friends (real life and on Facebook) & colleagues who have hired help (I seem to be one of the few who has never hired help Haha) for putting up with my incessant pestering and questions, which gave me much headstart and anticipation of what to prepare/ expect. Thank you all who have contributed by commenting here or on FB, I'm truly grateful  :)
Hopefully she will be a good help to me. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our helper is coming tomorrow

Our agency has called and said our maid application is approved, and we can fetch our new helper anytime this week.
I quickly SMSed my boss and let her know I need to take leave so she can make alternative arrangements at work.

I told the agent we'll go down to the agency tomorrow evening, so that means I have Friday up till the end of next week to help our new helper settle in and fix up a routine.
We tidied up Adam's Play Room as best we could (ie. by pushing all his toys to one corner of the room), bought her a foldable mattress, pillow, blanket, towels and other necessities.

I keep telling Adam about our "new Aunty" coming to help Mommy with the house work. He calls our PT helper "Aunty", so now I'm just introducing him the idea that a new Aunty is coming to stay with us and she is going to sleep in his Play Room.
How is he adapting to this new idea??
Not very good, I must say. Everytime I ask him about it, he keeps mum and I get no response.
It's already tough work getting him used to the idea that there's a baby inside my tummy that's gonna Pop out anytime soon, and now getting him used to the idea of a stranger coming to live in our home?
I need to work harder!!

Frankly, I'm all nerves as well. I've always highly regarded my privacy. I even leave our PT helper to clean up our house ALONE while we are away at work (my MIL comes to open the door for her and leaves her to do her job alone in our home). And now we have to actually adjust to having someone live in with us.
No more not locking of bathroom doors, no more walking around the house naked to look for my clothes, no more leaving valuables unlocked.

Along with that, I worry about the inevitable like - is she reliable? Will she be honest & hardworking?
I don't expect a super maid. I just hope she can be honest and clean that's most important when it comes to working in a household with children.

Oh well, we'll soon find out. Wish us all the best!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tiffany-blue for a good cause

It's in the shade of the ever familiar robin-egg blue, it's sweet (I have a sweet-tooth for both pregnancies) and it's all for a good cause.
June is the Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and all proceeds of the Canele limited edition Teal colored Macarons will go to Singapore Cancer Society.

in a shade of Tiffany blue which I love
After that, Andy & I attended a wedding at Crowne Plaza, Changi Airport.
I wore a salmon-pink maxi dress. I can't emphasize enough
my love for maxi dresses this pregnancy.
I'm a day short of being 28W.

Going into 3rd trimester in a week. I'm all nerves... My Obs doctor said I can try for natural birth if Baby No.2 isn't breech like the first - BUT - I cannot be induced due to the risks of C-sect wound rupture. Which means, if I opt for natural delivery, I have to go au naturale at my own pace without induction by drugs, and if the labour doesn't progress, I may have to be whisked off for an Emergency C-sect again.
Adam was delivered by Emergency C-sect because he was breech and my waters broke. When the midwife did an internal examination for me, I was already 4cm dilated when I reached Labour Ward and she could feel Adam's foot at the opening of my cervix already.
It was all drama and happened so fast, which had its pros & cons. I'm not sure if I'm up to a natural vaginal birth honestly. Guess we'll cross that bridge later.

Meanwhile, after much consideration and discussion, Andy & I have decided to engage a domestic helper to ease our chores. It's mostly Andy - he thinks I won't be able to cope with chores and 2 kids. Which frankly, he may well be right. I've grown up with under the care of my Grandma, Aunty LY, and for a short period of time my Mum had hired a maid. I've not had to do housework 99% of my life, even now that Andy & I have moved to our matrimonial home, the chores are taken care of by our Part-time helper.

Now that I'm hitting my 3rd trimester, my tummy gets in the way and it's really starting to take a toll on me, but for the other 6-days that my PT help is not in, I still have to wash bottles, bend, pick up toys/crayons/balls/books, etc. For my 1st pregnancy, I did EVERYTHING at my own pace - if I was tired I napped, if I felt like sleeping in I slept in late, after work I would just crash in front of the TV on the couch. If I felt like doing nothing I did nothing.
The situation is different now with a 3yr old and it's definitely causing a strain and I'm easily exhausted more than usual.
On weekends, I wish I can sleep in late but Adam wakes up sharper than a rooster so I hardly get any rest at all. He's an Energizer bunny who hardly stops once his engine is started. I'll have to keep him entertained and it's sometimes driving me bonkers.
I run the bath, we go to the playground, we read books, I put on the iPad, I'm basically running out of tricks from my sleeves!
On weekends, I find myself even more tired than weekdays. I sometimes silently start praying "Oh God, oh God, oh God.... " and I feel resentful if he doesn't nap.
Why doesn't this kid NAP?! Why doesn't he GET TIRED?!!!! I'm on the verge of breaking point.
I admit that these are times when I wish we had a live-in help. I'm no Superwoman afterall and I'm not afraid to admit that I want help. Thankfully, Andy is quick to pick that up and so we made a few enquiry calls to friends / agencies and today we made a trip down to an agency to interview some available maids.

We shortlisted one - she is 28 yrs old from Indonesia, can speak fair English, not as fluent as Filipinas but definitely better than your average Indonesian maid. At least this is an advantage because my in-laws can speak to her in Bahasa while we can still communicate to her in English.
I didn't even interview her much - I've had experience with my Mum's maid and know that all those interviews are mostly useless.
As long as she was Ok handling pork, not afraid of Maverick, and was Ok to take care of a baby and toddler, I'm really fine. The rest will depend on her aptitude and attitude towards learning.

There are some concerns I have - I'm not due till August, and I intend to keep all my leave as much as possible. So what will the new helper do in the meantime when Adam goes to school and we are all away at work? Also, she seems very quiet (general observation is that Indon maids are meeker than Filipinas) and she's quite petite, so I'm afraid that she might get bullied by Terror Tod Adam.

Again, I think we have to cross the bridge when we reach it.
Now all we need to do is get the paperwork sorted out - Insurance, Levy, Employer Orientation Program, etc etc.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Maid or no maid?

When we found out about my pregnancy, Andy & I have discussed endlessly about the care arrangement of our kids.
With Adam already in full day childcare, we have the following options:
- Hiring a maid
- Me quitting my job to be a SAHM
- His mom will help with the baby while Adam is in school (this is my last option and if I can help it I wont wanna consider it)

Initially, Andy was quite against the idea of having a stranger live with us and suddenly there will be an "extra" mouth that we have to feed whom we are not even related to. It makes sense, because since we shifted to our own place, we have valued our privacy, and considering the only times we spend at home are to sleep (other than weekends). With us not at home 90% of the time, it really doesn't sound safe to entrust a whole new stranger to the care of our infant.
We've all heard of horror maid stories. It's not that there are no good maids around, but these competent and reliable helpers are few and far between. Besides, do I really want my child to be mothered by a stranger? I already feel bad enough that my MIL is Adam's "go to" person when the school calls up to say he's sick/ etc etc.

Therefore, Andy has suggested to me that I can be a SAHM if I want to.
My only memories of being a SAHM were during my maternity leave with Adam, which was 3 years ago. Other than that, I was a SAHM after I resigned from my job and stopped work for a few months mainly to oversee the renovation of our new home and running errands because Andy couldn't get away from work. That's it. I claim no credit in being the true SAHM that some of my friends are.

I'm lucky that Andy allows me to choose what kind of mom I wanna be, a working mom or a stay-home mom. In Singapore, with the standards of living sky high, most couples do not have the option to stop working. Throw in a car, house loan and monthly expenses, many couples don't even want to have children! Those people we know with kids have to solely rely on childcare centres or their parents.
It is really not easy.
As such, I am grateful that my husband is kind enough to shoulder all the financial burden and let me decide what I wanna do. Afterall, we are talking about his offspring as well, not just mine.

Right now the question I've repeatedly asked myself these few months - Maid or no maid? Can I stand up to the chores and expectations of being a SAHM??