Date Posted: 04/12/2018
You can prevent frustrating surprises.
Guessing what others want is rarely successful. Discussing each other's specific expectations can help everyone in the household live more satisfying and effective lives. To smooth the way for sharing space and meeting expectations, plan ‘Rules of the House’ for you and your Foreign Domestic Worker.
A Place to Call Home.
Separate? Together? How you can successfully share home.
The FDW will be coming to a new home - yours, the Employer's. She'll need a home-within-your-home. An area to spend private time, relax, and rejuvenate. And you and your family will need privacy too.
To create privacy for everyone, create a specific space just for your Helper. Show her where she will sleep and keep her things and can close the door and be ‘home’.
When you give the Helper her own space, you allow her room to gather energy for her next task and to experience better job/life satisfaction. At the same time, you ensure personal space for your family.
Common Areas & Shared Tools.
‘Hey, that’s mine!’ How you can comfortably share your stuff.
Refrigerator. Microwave. Sink. Shelves. Dishes. Pots & Pans. Utensils. Kitchen. Bathroom. Living Room. TV, Stereo, WiFi.
Everyone needs these. Create harmony by having ‘ground rules’ for shared spaces and things. Give your Helper times for meal preparation, showers, television viewing, and internet access that coordinate with your family members’ schedules.
Show the Helper which tools and supplies she may use. For example, you may provide a certain set of dishes and silverware for her to use - but not the formal dinnerware. You may offer internet access - but not during your family's heavy WiFi usage hours. And you may provide nice seating for the Helper - but also have a rule that no one sits in your heirloom chair.
Guidelines for sharing spaces and tools reduce conflict. And they create a greater sense of freedom for both family and Helper.
Guests & Activities.
‘No drugs, no drama, no pets’. Ads for roommates often include limits like that. You and the Helper need to commit to similar ground rules for guests and activities in the home.
Decide upfront what you want - and don’t want - to happen in your home. Relate the rules to the Helper's activities and to her needs.
Coming & Going.
‘Remember to lock the door!’ Sharing the safety of the home.
Give the Helper a key to your home so she can come and go on errands for you, and during her personal time.
When providing a key, be sure to relate how you want the key used and protected to secure the safety of your home.
Also, plan the hours when the Helper can come and go during her time off. A schedule can reduce household disruptions as the Helper goes out to places and events that interest her.
The Comforts of Home.
Windows opened or windows closed?
Lighting levels? Air temperature? Speaker volume? Water use? Shower temperatures? Dishwasher timing? Phone use?
Home is your place to be comfortable, safe, clean, and entertained. But what makes YOU comfortable is not necessarily what works for your Helper.
Consider the needs of your household, including the Helper. Determine the rules, and share them.
Your Helper’s Personal Time.
Most of the time, your Helper is on duty. As the employer, you're responsible to provide time off: sick leaves, travel leaves, and breaks during working hours. Labour laws guide many of these arrangements.
You also have choices to make. How far may your Helper go from home on a single day off? Are you alright if she wants to be away overnight? Does the Helper need to be available by phone/close enough to come home if needed?
Early on, agree upon how you’ll handle this personal time. Smooth breaks and leaves for the Helper create positive working conditions. Helpers look forward to this valuable time off. Planning ahead will protect this important time off and your responsibility to provide it.
Trust & Safety.
When the Helper joins your household, you get to know her, and she gets to know you. A good working and home relationship with your Helper will help her see you as someone she can trust. And then she can appreciate and follow advice that can keep your household safe and sound.
Write, Review, Repeat.
Written notes give the household handy guidelines.
Write down your rules and expectations. Review the guidelines when the Helper comes for her interview and when she moves in.
Post the rules where your Helper can see them every day. Provide separate postings in key locations (e.g., post rules for locking the house right on the front door).
Continue to invite discussion of guidelines with the Helper. Get to know how well she knows and understands them. Update your rules as needed to keep your home comfortable and running well for everyone.
Closing Thoughts from HelperFirst.
Yes, there's a lot to consider...but it’s worth it.
When your Helper KNOWS what you want - she can live up to it!
And everyone can have a greater sense of home...together.
Visit the HelperFirst blog again for more insights on participating as a Helper/Employer in Hong Kong. And look for your HelperFirst community on Facebook!