How would you feel if you found out that your domestic helper had been having sex with your neighbours in your bed?
This nightmare became a reality for Esther (not her real name) when she found out her FDW of a few months had been secretly sleeping with her neighbour and his son-in-law, in the bed, she shared with her husband.
Esther was devastated when she found out that Jean (not her real name) – who was highly recommended by her sister-in-law and who Esther and her husband trusted immensely – had invited men into their home and bedroom in their absence.
“Jean was left on her own for most of the day but my husband and I never questioned what she got up to. As long as the house was clean and there was food on the table when we returned home, we were happy,” she said.
Esther trusted her maid but her trust was betrayed. | Image source: iStock
“We gave her the freedom to use her mobile phone whenever she needed to and even let her access the internet on our computer,” she added.
“I’ve not hired another domestic helper since – I’m scarred by the scandal. Should I hire a maid in future, I will monitor her closely. I won’t leave her alone at home for long stretches of time, that’s for sure,” said Esther.
Being able to trust our FDWs is crucial. After all, they look after what is precious to us, such as our homes and our kids. But the million-dollar question is, how much should you trust your domestic helpers and how much freedom should you give them?
Inviting a stranger to live with you is a big decision. And this is exactly what happens when people employ live-in domestic helpers. Having a live-in helper can be uncomfortable if you haven’t established some level of trust and understanding.
When employers don’t fully trust their helpers, they are forced to resort to measures such as restricting or banning mobile phone use; having strict rules about her appearance such as short hair and no makeup; banning the maid from mingling with other maids during workdays, and so on. As a result, neither the maid nor the employer is happy.
How much is too much?
Image source; iStock
How much freedom is too much for a domestic helper? How do we allow this freedom, and still keep them in check? And where do we draw the line?
In Esther’s case, she fully trusted her domestic helper, without ever questioning what she was up to during the day. Jean definitely took advantage of the freedom given to her by Esther.
But is Esther partly to be blamed for what happened? Should she have monitored Jean’s movements more closely? And should she have laid down some ground rules at the beginning of Jean’s contract?
It’s not easy handling a live-in helper, especially if it’s the first time you have ever employed one. Remember that a respectful relationship works both ways. If you want her to respect your rules, make sure you respect her rights to privacy and rest. It definitely helps to lay down some basic rules. Some rules our readers suggested are:
- Lay down some rules right at the beginning of your maid’s employment with you. These could be related to mobile phone and Internet use (eg. she can use her mobile phone at fixed times like after 9pm when her work is done); how you’d prefer her to dress when she is working etc.
- Make it clear to your helper what the consequences will be if she breaks your trust (e.g. she gets 1/2/3 chances, or you will not tolerate any breach of trust and immediately send her back to the agency).
- Avoid keeping money or jewellery lying around. This is an unnecessary temptation, especially if your helper is new.
- If you are not at home, always keep cupboards or drawers where you keep your valuables, locked, or keep your valuables in a safe. Similarly, lock your bedroom door when you are away from home.
- Be very clear about whether you allow her to bring her friends to your house, even when you are not there. Avoid leaving a new maid home alone for long stretches without checking in on her regularly.
- Ask her to be honest with you – if she is not happy or uncomfortable with anything, she should feel comfortable enough to approach you with her problem.
- Make it very clear about who, if anyone, is allowed into your house in your absence.
- Give her a copy of your rules, ideally in a language she is comfortable with.
Image source: iStock
Once you lay down your ground/house rules, do make it a point to stick by them and also go through them occasionally with your helper to refresh her memory about your expectations. A working relationship built on trust and mutual respect will ensure that both you and your helper are happy.
Do share your opinion on Esther’s story. Has anything similar ever happened to you? Let us know by leaving a comment.
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