Walking the house help journey
The conversation surrounding house-helps seemed so far from my family for so long. The most we had ever got was a walk-in maid who we could not keep when we changed location. However, in our new location, with a baby in tow, this conversation came closer to home. A family friend brought in the first one and the deal was that she was to stay around until schools opened (four months). That was the first and the one that stayed the longest so far.
While she seemed fine, I came to learn about many things that went wrong after she had left. From beating the children and threatening them, to superimposing herself as an assistant mummy, she did it all. The sad thing is that she sold them a lie, “Mummy told me to beat you when you do not listen.” Therefore, they bought into it. The situation was worsened by the fact that my husband was away for work while I juggled two jobs, hence almost no time for them.
They had believed every word she said, never bothering to say a thing to me. Even sadder was that the baby was only learning to speak hence muffed by default. It later broke my heart to hear them tell their father what they had never said to me. “I had asked them every day if all was well and they said it was. Why was I hearing of this for the first time?” I thought to myself. Boy, it hurt so badly. However, it gave me several lessons that work for me to-date…
My children have rights. Although the helper has come to relieve me of some house duties, she has in no way come to load it on my children. Therefore, she will not beat them or try to threaten them. To ensure this, my husband and I have told our children that they are first class citizens in our house. Therefore, they have the right to have fun in their home.
They also have responsibilities. Rights are only sustained when the people involved also carry their share of responsibilities. Therefore, while the helpers had a share of housework to do, the children have to clean up after themselves. In that vein, no one picks up their plate or lays their beds. No one will bath them or pick up after them. While the faces seemed long, the points were stressed and followed through with.
We will listen. Previously, we were running around to make ends meet, ignoring the reason for our working. We thus resolved that we would listen without preconceived judgements. It has helped to have them open up because we validate their thoughts and then give advice rather than shut them up.
With these and more, we have seen our children come out of the shell they had developed with the first helper. They are livelier and happier and we are also able to notice those tiny things like change of attitude on either hand.
While helpers are a necessity in some families, with some ground rules, sanity can be maintained.
Blogger, journalist, parenting coach