It is that time of the year again! Post-school holidays and a whirlwind of festivities and indulgent feasting have just ended. Time flies like an arrow before we find ourselves and our kids in that motion of inertia to welcome the New Year – a.k.a. the start of school madness when kids go back to school.
“Kan-cheong” parents: checked. Excited, or Not-So-Excited kids: checked. New school books: checked. New school bags: checked. New school session– checked!
Here are some ideas on how we working parents can ready our helpers when our kids go back to school:
1. Timetable brief
Once you have a copy of the new timetable for your children’s new school year, it could be helpful to do up a simple timetable for your helper in a language she is fluent in. (Google translate proves a useful app for translations from English to native languages).
The timetable should also take into account your child’s co-curricular activities or even your new work schedule and family dinner timings. Run through it at least once with her. This could prevent unwanted scenarios due to the helper’s unfamiliarity of everyone’s new schedules. E.g. your kids are not prepared for school and end up running late or your family coming home to food turned cold as dinner was prepared too early. Let her phase in with the new timetable for a month or more before weaning her off this reference.
2. Keep in touch
As working mothers, we know there are the weekdays and there are the very precious weekends. Often on weekdays, we are inevitably reduced to a mid-day call home routine to squeeze in a short check in on our kids.
As engaged as we are, call-backs really help to let our kids know that we are involved with their new school week and cements that we are still the primary care-giver! Just as important, do try to squeeze in a moment or two to check in on your helper as well.
Such support is essential so they know that they are not alone in handling the kids transition to the back to school phase. When the weekends hit, you can have your helper solely focus on the house work while you spend as much time as you can with your kids. Parental love and attention is truly irreplaceable.
3. Safety outside of home
Not all families engage school bus services to fetch their kids to and from school. Some families who live merely a walking distance from school require their helpers to fetch their children to and from school.
Have a talk with your helper to emphasize the seriousness of being punctual, and in fact, being early if possible. It is better to anticipate and look out for the kids’ release from school, then to arrive on the dot. This can prevent untoward situations where kids run off on their own or unconsciously lose themselves in their conversations with their friends and strangers.
Have a talk with your helper on the seriousness of road safety at all times for both her and your children. If it is the first time that your new helper is tasked for this role, make time to observe and correct your new helper whilst they handle your kids in public spaces, pedestrian-crossings and roads. Be frank with them on the authority they have when they need to be firm with your kids due to the importance of safety.
Some employers also highlight to their helpers that usage of handphone and audio devices (if any) should be strictly restricted while travelling out of the house unless on an urgent basis, and conversations with other helpers must be minimised. Some do request for a call-back once she is home with the child, if necessary.
Most importantly, kids are parents’ responsibility. It is our onus to communicate this responsibility effectively to our helpers when we task them to it.