15 January 2013

Our Yaya Story and Some Yaya Tips

Looking and choosing the right yaya for Julia was a difficult task.  We started our search when I was still pregnant.  Don and I wanted to be sure we find the right one for our family.  During the search, we relied so much on gut-feel.  When something felt wrong, we say no.  If one passes the interview, we require her to undergo a trial run (with pay, of course).  That's how we validate our assumptions about character and skills.

Yaya Lani passed the interview and trial run but we had a rough start with her.  She was hired together with her neighbor, who was supposed to be our all-around-helper.  When that helper quit after 2 days (she realized she would rather stay at their house and do nothing! Duh!), Yaya Lani wanted to go with her.  She didn't want to be left alone with us.  So we let her go.  We do not want to keep her against her will.

But something felt right about Yaya Lani.  Don and I decided to convince her to come back.  Because I was very pregnant then, it was my mother-in-law who visited her house and talked to her parents.  We're glad she decided to give it another try.  Today is Yaya Lani's 2nd Anniversary with our family.  She is truly a blessing to us.  But just like any relationship, making it work requires patience, understanding and respect.

Here are a few things I think we are doing right with Yaya Lani:

Clear Job Description

When Yaya Lani started, Don and I discussed with her thoroughly the scope of her job.  We clearly defined her role, the Dos, Don'ts and Nevers.  In situations when she needs to extend her role (especially when our all-around-helper quits), we talk to her and ask for her help.  In case the "temporary" tasks extend to more than a month, we make sure we compensate her for additional work.

Clear Boundaries

I am very strict with rules.  I make sure that Yaya Lani understands these rules and the rationale behind them. We made a rule that whenever we are at work, Yaya Lani should make sure that our role as parents to Julia is still emphasized despite our absence.  For example, Julia is not allowed to watch TV at a certain time, Yaya Lani will explain to Julia that "Daddy and Mommy said TV time is only for 1 hour."  She should explain to her before sleeping at night that "Daddy and Mommy are on their way home and will sleep beside you later."

Also, as a rule between Don and I, whenever we are home, Julia should be with us and we should be the one taking care of her needs.  It is very clear to our household that Don and I are primarily responsible for taking care of Julia.  Yaya Lani is only there to help us.

We make sure that we maintain a good balance of professional and personal when it comes to our working relationship with Yaya Lani.  We make sure that we are not being complacent especially when it comes to Julia's well being and safety.

Pay Right and Treat Well

I do not allow advance or utang unless it is for a family emergency but we pay Yaya Lani on time.  Even before the Kasambahay Bill, we pay for Yaya Lani's SSS Contributions.  We give her 13th month pay and salary increase annually.  I will enroll her for PhilHealth membership this week.  Also, though she did not request for a weekly day off, we make sure we let her visit and spend time with her family every time we go home to Tarlac.

We respect Yaya Lani the same way we want her to respect us.  We make sure she eats well.  My mother-in-law taught us never to be selfish with food.  She believes that if our helpers eat properly, they will work well -- physically and mentally.  We also make sure she is able to rest and sleep well.  Good presence of mind and reliable reflexes can be attributed to proper nutrition and sleep.

Lastly, hygiene is very important to us, so we include her soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste in our monthly grocery expense.  We give her vitamins too so that she won't get sick easily.  If Yaya is virus-free, so is Julia.

Encourage Growth

Yaya Lani has initiative and she is very hard working.  She has malasakit for our family.  We love her dearly and we can tell that she loves our family too.  She is very young and we want to help her improve her and her family's quality of life.

We encourage her to save.  We helped her open a bank account and get her own ATM card.  We are happy that through her salary, she was able to make a downpayment to purchase a motorcycle for her tatay.  Her dad is now working on the permits and some documents so they can use it as a tricycle and earn from it.  Whenever she goes home to visit her family, Yaya Lani tells us how happy she is to know and feel that her parents are so proud of her.

This year, Don and I plan to let her attend short courses on cooking, child care, first aid and emergency preparedness.  We were about to register her for Manila Workshop's "Ok Ka, Yaya Ko" but the schedule coincides with Julia's 2nd Birthday Celebration.  I hope they will have another run soon.  Our ultimate goal really is to be able to send her to school to take up a vocational course.  I hope someday we can do that for her.


I believe that no matter how well we treat our yaya/helper, we will not have a good relationship with them if they do not uphold and practice the same values as ours.  Their character and goals in life also play an important role in making the relationship succeed.  All our efforts to retain our yaya/helper will be pointless if they don't have the right attitude and if they do not have the right motivation to work.  We know nothing lasts forever but we hope Yaya Lani will stay with us for 10-15 more years (haha, demanding!).

What's your yaya story?  Any tips on how to hire and retain a yaya/helper?
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