Many a time I see domestic helpers bringing our lovely kids to schools, fetching them home after the children’s school activities. At times, I wonder different things would be without these domestic helpers present in our daily lives, supporting us in various ways.

UNCERTAINTIES IN FOREIGN LAND

Deep in my heart, I appreciate them; some had to leave their family members (of which, some of them also have kids of their own about young as ours) travel into a foreign land, to manage similar, if not more domestic duties for a non-related family and yet having to adapt into said family lifestyles abruptly here. Many occasions, their usual environments, culture and appliances that they are accustomed to never quite fit in instantaneously, inadvertently adding to their pressure.

MUM OR HELPER

Two years ago, I came across a video showing the level of understanding between our kids, their mothers and their domestic helpers respectively. The video’s intention is not to shame the local mothers (I believed some dads perform equally bad as mums), but to bring awareness and attention to the point of how much we (as parents) take the time to spend with our kids.

I am referring to spending genuine quality time with them, listening to their voices and opinions, communicating with them and understanding from their perspective (not to agree with them if perceptions from them go astray, but to listen). Yes, listening may be all our lovely kids want us, as a parent to spare and not giving them instructions, directions and “what will happen if you don’t listen to me” type of advices, in short, exert Parental Authority.

Mums and Maids (April, 2015)

Initially, the intention for a domestic helper is to take care of our tiring and obligated household chores. After some time, the helpers go beyond the limit of supposed domestic chores, things like taking care of our kids, bathing, preparing milk or foods, playing with our kids…things that are supposedly a parent’s duty becomes the helper’s duty.

Note that I used duty and not aid. How many of us are guilty of simply putting these duties to the helper, so that we can have more time on social media, or watch our favourite drama…etc?

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT PARENT. SO JUST BE A REAL ONE.

Sue Atkins

DON’T JUDGE THEM, DON’T SCOLD THEM

Some of these helpers, feedback with a common response is that many kids feel more at ease to confiding with their helper than with their parents, as they feel that their mommy and daddy will “judged” and “scold” them.

Aside from taking care of the household chores, they also serve as a friend and counsellor to our kids, more so since they are live-in helpers. Now, don’t misunderstand my meaning in this, I am very grateful for the helpers, going beyond her actual job and supporting us in helping to monitor and oversee our kids’ well-being. But, what about us as parents?

Why do the kids feel better in confiding their helpers and not in us, as parents? Have we shy away as a parent’s duty? Allowing it to go from “supporting” role to “substituting” role? If not, what can we do and learn to understand our kids better?

We (referring to families who are employing domestic helpers) all understand the pressure and pace of the society, work demands and drains our energy. Then there is the attention of the kids and spouse…and at times our older folks as well, all this amounted more stress to our lives. The frustration and heartache leave “no time even for ourselves”!

REALLY BUSY? NO TIME FOR KIDS?

But hey, take a step back, drink an ice-cold glass of water, breath in, breath out… then ask ourselves, are we really that busy? Perhaps we can have a different mindset:

Ok, so we really don’t have an hour, but we can spare a short quality and meaningful period of 10 minutes…say in the morning with the kids? Have a genuine conversation with your kids, be with them. Kids are smart, they can sense the slightest moment of non-attentiveness from you and be affected throughout the day.

Take on a spontaneous attitude, talk to them as if you were chatting with your friend. Trust me, the kids can and will say the darndest things.They will start sharing things about who-and-who and what’s happening here and there…etc. This not only gives the child confidence in articulating incidents, breaks down their defence against you as parents, allows you and the child to bond, and at the same time lets you in the know of the people and situations around them…perhaps coupled with some good laughs. Just remember, don’t judge yet and listen.

ACTIVITIES WITH KIDS

I can suggest some other activities over holidays and weekends:

  1. Organise an early activity (i.e hiking, rollerblading, scootering, little jog, etc) in the morning. After the activity, enjoy a simple breakfast with the kids. Chat about the activity that had been just carried out.

  2. Prepare a “do-together” pancake or a simple dish where the kids can participate. Do not be afraid to let your kids “dirty” the surrounding. Enjoy the dish prepared with the kids.

  3. Young kids these days listen to their ideal pop musics and you may find joy when searching in the net with them. At times, you may be surprised by your kids being able to sing along with the lyrics.

  4. Plan a movie a month with your kids. Discuss it before the movie. Watch the trailer and excite the kids if you can.

  5. Plan a stroll with your kids after a sumptuous dinner. Chat with them along the way.

  6. Go out and have fun with your kids’ friends and their parents. This will create bonding not only with your kids but letting your kids comprehend that you love their friends as well.

ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS, FOR ONE DAY YOU MAY LOOK BACK AND REALISE THEY WERE THE BIG THINGS.

Robert Brault

Being a parent is our choice, hence parenting is our duty. Domestic helpers can only support our chores, but they cannot substitute as us, in parenting.

Remember, we cannot reverse the time that is gone, as our children grow, but spending quality time with them, making precious memories, that is Golden.