Domestic helpers yes or no

Hiring a domestic helper is an increasingly common childcare solution for many families. Is it something for you to consider?


“When I got pregnant and found out we were expecting twins, one of my first thoughts was, ‘How are we going to cope?’ Both Jason and I work, and I couldn’t see myself giving up a job I love,” says Marisa, a public relations manager and mum to twins. “Hiring a domestic helper seemed like the easiest and most straightforward solution.

          “While we had some initial teething problems with our domestic helper, Virginia, it’s an arrangement that suits us best,” she observes.

          Many couples only consider hiring a domestic helper when they start a family. In a double-income household, nothing beats having an extra pair of hands to ease the way — besides looking and cleaning up after the kids, your helper cooks, cleans and keeps the house running smoothly.

          But before you jump on the maid bandwagon, it’s vital to first assess your family’s needs.

Practical considerations

Can you afford it?
Work out your finances. Hiring a maid works out to at least $1,000 expense every month, an amount that covers her salary, food and essentials, home leave and maid levy.

When to bring her in?
For couples who plan to hire a domestic worker, it’s best to get one a few months before the baby is due, to give both yourselves and the maid time to get used to each other’s rhythms. Having ample time will also give you time to assess the helper and even change your minds.

Space: yours and hers
Where will your maid sleep? Will she have a space or room of her own? Your live-in helper needs her privacy as much as you do. Indeed, such quality-of-life issues will have a direct impact on the quality of care she can offer your child. Once she is settled, give her days off, so that you can bond as a family.

          Says Claire, mum of two, “I give my helper every Sunday off — we call it our family day, and it’s a day when we do fun stuff together. The kids have to clean up their mess, my husband has to do the dishes and I get to take back my kitchen! It’s important for us and for our helper, Gemma, because she comes back recharged and happy.”

Responsibilities and job scope
What are you hiring her for? Help her prioritise her work by stressing that looking after the needs of the children should come first. You may even want to forgo some housework, for example, by ordering tingkat rather than having the helper cook dinner, or by cooking yourself. This way, you are sure that she is paying maximum attention to your baby.

          One way to do this is to draw up a daily schedule for your helper. Block time for certain chores, but ensure that there’s room for flexibility. For example, arrange for her to clean the house and make the beds between 7am and 9am, as opposed to her making beds from 7am to 7.30am, then cleaning the toilet from 7.30am to 8.30am. And work in some time for a rest — she’s a human being, not a robot vacuum cleaner.