This Mum Fired Her Trusted Maid and You Need to Know Why
Trust is a must when employing a helper. But what about when they take the trust you have in them for granted, even to the point of putting your kids in danger?
In Singapore, we are privileged to be able to easily find domestic helpers to assist with housework and looking after our kids. Over time, many of us come to trust our helpers and consider them as part of the family — just like Sarah* did.
This is Sarah’s story as told to theAsianparent. Her story will shock all of you reading it, whether you have a helper or not.
Do keep in mind that the purpose of this story is not to get you mistrusting your helper. Instead, consider it as an eye-opener to what could potentially go wrong, and a reminder to always be alert to signs or ‘red flags’ in your helper’s behaviour or attitude that something is not quite right.
Our helper, Mary*, had been with us for 18 months and over this time, earned our trust.
A few Saturday nights ago, she was babysitting our children (ages 3 and 1) as she often does. I told her that we would be home very late, and to go to bed without waiting up for us (she usually stays up until we come home).
She specifically told us that she would leave very early the next day (Sunday), meaning we would not see her in the morning, and also that she hoped the kids would not wake up after midnight. I didn’t think much of these statements at the time, but later, it all made sense.
We left after making sure the kids were in bed and fast asleep. I got home at 2.30 am (Sunday), got myself a drink, saw Mary’s room door shut and I also closed the glass doors to our wet kitchen.
I was up by 7am to get my baby and noticed that the wet kitchen glass doors were still shut. I assumed that Mary was still asleep as she usually opens these doors in the morning. At 8am I checked her room, and with a sinking feeling I realised that she had not stayed in it last night.
My husband went to the guard station and went through the condo CCTV from midnight the previous day, all the way to 6am Sunday — no sign of her leaving the premises.
Then, I told him to go back and check again from 8pm. Sure enough, there she was walking out of the condo at 9.30pm.
This means she had left our little ones all alone for over 5 hours!
That was the night of a big storm too, and my little boy told me in the morning that he heard a big crash (which was one of our large outdoor plants falling and breaking). What if he had got really scared and got out of bed, looking for someone and found no one at home?
We confronted Mary several times via phone calls and SMS on Sunday; however, she refused to admit to what she did and even abused us for not trusting her.
Needless to say, this terrible mistake cost her a good job and she was sent home on Monday night. This was a horrific lesson for us to learn and I hope no one else has to go through what we did.
Sarah tells us that there were some warning signs she should have heeded.
Sarah explained to us that there were a few red flags and warnings signs — both on that Saturday night and over time — that should have alerted her to the fact that perhaps Mary was not to be trusted so much after all.
Here’s what she said:
The first sign that something was amiss was when Mary explicitly stated that she was leaving the next day at 6am. This is not unusual given that she often does this, but she made it a point to state it out loud, insinuating that we won’t see her in the morning.
Also, when she said that she hoped that the kids wouldn’t wake up after midnight, I replied saying that they sleep through the night now. Thinking back, I feel she was actually checking if the children would wake up or not.
A change in attitude
I had no reason to not trust Mary. I had even been told by friends on a few occasions about how well she watched our kids while at the condo playground
But looking back now, I realise that there was a definite change in her attitude over the past few months. She had definitely become more complacent in her duties compared to when she started with us.
Her attitude to us, in general, had also become worse. For example, once we needed to have some building works done while we were overseas and the contractors needed to be there on a Saturday. I asked her to be home and she responded, “Wow, that sucks”. Certainly not the way to speak to anyone, including your employer.
I must say that we were very flexible with her. She had a boyfriend and we often gave her full weekends off to live her own life. I do think this backfired in the end.
Because I am a work-from-home mum, I need to have someone around to keep an eye on the kids, so we have now employed our second helper. But this time, there are a few things that have changed.
For one, she is an older lady — 45 years old — and therefore more responsible I hope, and less likely to have a boyfriend. Also, she works most Saturdays and I am more firm about not allowing late nights.
To those of you reading this, I hope my story has served as an eye-opener. And remember, when you get home from a late-night, always make sure your helper is still in your home!
*All names have been changed to preserve anonymity.
Have you experienced anything like this with a helper? Do share your story with us – just leave a comment below.
To read more on signs that it’s time to let your helper go, just click this link.