“Sometimes managing household help stresses me out more than doing everything myself!” my friend complained during one of our regular
Mom Venting Sessions coffee dates.
I know many other parents feel the same way. Aside from common issues like frequent salary advances or sudden vacation leaves, they often feel like they’re micromanaging everything. “If I don’t remind her, she won’t do it.” “She says yes, but does it her way anyway.” “She’s always on her cell phone, tapos mamadaliin ang trabaho niya.”
Then last year, I had an Aha! Moment. I attended a leadership training workshop about how managers can bring out the best in their people – and realized that all the principles on motivation could work at home!
Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and their job. They need structure and rules so they know what’s expected, and affirmation when they do it well. It’s the secret to positive parenting and managing household help. So I asked my friends: “In what ways do you motivate your household help and reward them for a job well done?” These are their tips.
Set clear routines and responsibilities
This is especially important if you have two or more household help. Who’s in charge of laundry, cleaning, cooking? How often do you want it done and how? Post a schedule on the wall, so they can manage their time and be accountable for their work.
This clarity prevents a lot of conflict among household help. “Before, I’d come home to complaints – kesyo di ginawa ni X ang trabaho niya, o magsisihan kapag pinagsabihan, o maririnig ko na feeling ni Z na masmarami siyang ginagawa,” says Patricia, mom of 3. Once she wrote down everyone’s tasks and printed out a schedule, the finger pointing stopped. “After a month, everyone got used to the routines and the house ran like clockwork.”
Once you have clear responsibilities and schedules, it’s easier to avoid problems with cell phone use and days off. “I tell them as long as they finish the day’s task, they can use their free time however they want,” says Linda. But she asks them to leave their cell phones in their room, and only answer calls after they’re done with their chores.
Clara also expects her household help to wake up at 4am, because her kids are picked up by the school bus by 6am. However, she’s created schedules so they have siesta time and are done with all chores by 8pm. “I make sure they’re well-rested, and they also have every Sunday off. But as I explained to them, you know what you need to do – it’s up to you to decide how quickly and efficiently you do it.”
Jodi say she could only afford to hire one person to help her with her toddler and some simple chores like laundry. “All-around maids are hard to come by, because most of them now just want to do one thing,” she said.
So when she was able to find household help, she was fair about establishing responsibilities. “I told her, priority ko yung bata at yung paglalaba. If pressed for time, the only items she needs to iron is my husband’s work shirts. She cleans the house, too, but when I see she is tired – like last week, when my son was sick and pareho kaming puyat – I adjust the schedule.”
For Jodi, setting priorities comes from knowing what matters most to her as a mom and housewife. “My child’s health and happiness comes first. She’s a patient and caring yaya who plays with him and takes care of him well. Palalampasin ko kung medyo magulo ang bahay o di siya marunong magluto. There’s no such thing as a perfect maid or a perfect mom, di ba? For me, nagtutulungan kami and I think she sees I’m very reasonable about what I expect from her.”
Praise in public, admonish in private
I always ask new household help why they decided to leave their former employers. They often say, “Masungit siya. Sumisigaw siya. Lagi kami pinapagalitan, pero ‘di ko alam kung ano ang gusto niya.”
We’d hate it if our boss criticized our work in front of our colleagues, or yell at us instead of calmly explaining what needs to be changed. Give your household help the same respect you’d expect. Correct them privately, calmly, and clearly. All too often, we assume they know what we want, but forget that they may not have been trained or misunderstood your instructions because of the language barrier. Many of them come from provinces with another dialect, so patiently explain and demonstrate the task.
Then when they do something well, praise them or thank them – it’s the best motivation! It’s easy to take their work for granted, but their work makes our lives infinitely easier. Let them know they’re appreciated.
Empower them to solve their own financial problems
We understand emergencies can happen, but when your household help keeps making salary advances, they create a cycle of debt that’s difficult to crawl out of. Sometimes, their personal stress affects the quality of their work. They’re not lazy, just distracted by what’s happening at home.
Instead of just advancing money, why not help them think of ways to earn more money? Two of my friends helped their household out by giving them other sources of income. Elaine lets her maid use her day off to take extra cleaning or laundry jobs. Cora noticed her yaya loved doing her nails, and gives her extra to give her a mani-pedi instead of hiring a home service.
Common benefits include providing free toiletries and medicines, cell phone load allowance, and holiday bonus. However, a few of my friends have a unique (and affordable) way to win their household help’s loyalty for life.
Samantha, whose yaya has been with her for over 10 years, treats them to a weekly Sunday afternoon Netflix marathon. “I let them pick their shows and movies, and treat them to chips and soft drinks.”
Carmen says she’s like the unofficial Ninang of her yaya’s son. She pays for the school supplies, and sends a small cash gift on their birthdays and Christmas. “It’s not really a huge amount – when you think about it, isang kain lang ‘yan sa restaurant – but it means a lot to them. And for me, it’s fair: you take care of my family, I take care of yours.”
Our Household “Partners”
Our household help play a very important role. They help us create and maintain a pleasant, organized and clean home. They take care of our children (and of us!). It’s not an easy job, but they do it every day – often leaving their own families to help ours.
We need to see our household help as our partners. Give them routines and clear responsibilities, but ultimately, give them respect.
About The Writer
Dedet Reyes-Panabi was editor-in-chief of a parenting magazine for over 10 years, but has been writing for newspapers and magazines much longer than that (hint: back then, people still used film for photo shoots!). Today, she is a content marketing consultant for both local and international companies. She is full-time mom to two kids, three cats, and a stubborn French bulldog.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.