18 December 2013

She's the One? #BetterMe Session on Building Better Relationships with Helpers

A few weeks ago, a new all-around helper started to work for us.  Her name is Myra.  After more than a month of searching, we finally found somone we hope will last longer than 3 months.  In 2013 alone, we had about 20 (yes 20 - no joke) helpers.  Old, young, with experience, no experience, single, married, single mom - we tried them all.  Some lasted a day, some a week or a month.  Some had too much baggage and drama in life, some stole money and clothes, some didn't pass our standards and some, we just don't like.  It became so frustrating that I actually gave up the search.  I told Yaya Lani if we can try doing things without the all-around helper.  This will mean Yaya Lani doing other gawaing-bahay while Julia is taking her nap.  This also means additional expenses like laundry, take-out or delivery of food and of course increasing Yaya Lani's salary now that she is doing more work.

We were already getting used to the set-up when we received a call from our "katiwala" from Don's province.  Someone is willing to work for us.  Though a bit hesitant, we accepted the new helper, hoping for the best.  It was very timely that the SoMoms had a #BetterMe session on Building Better Relationships with Helpers with Coach Pia the day after our new helper started.  

Before a helper starts working for us, Don and I sit down with the helper to interview the helper about family background and previous work experience.  If we like her, we discuss (1) detailed job description, (2) compensation and benefits and (3) rules and regulations, especially our non-negotiables.  I do most of the talking -- HR pa rin ang role ko.  Don is there for intimidation.  Ha!

I decided to postpone the "talk" with our new helper until after our #BetterMe session with Coach Pia.  I know I will learn a lot and I did.  It reinforced what I am already doing right and it opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities for improvement.  Here are some of the lessons I learned:


Needs and wants must be very clear.  This will help us prioritize between the value our helpers bring to our family and our "wants".  For example, cooking is not one of Yaya Lani's skills and it sometimes frustrates me that all I eat the past few weeks is pork chop and chicken.  I have always encouraged her to learn from my mother-in-law but she is not really that interested.  Rather than dwell on my frustration, I should focus on Yaya Lani's strengths -- a super yaya to Julia.

Do not give a task that you know they do not have the ability/skill to do so.  I expect too much from our helpers.  I should determine first their capabilities and strengths.  With this information, I will know what tasks they can and cannot do.  More importantly, I will be able to identify what support is needed from me (teaching, guiding, etc.).

Preferences have to be very clear.  I go through our house rules to our incoming helper.  Another thing I learned from Coach Pia is the importance of explaining clearly the rules.  What are the non-negotiables?  Optional?  The helper should have a clear understanding of the purpose and importance of the rule.

Giving feedback is as important as explaining my preferences.  I believe that feedback is an essential component of self impovement.  I mean, how can someone improve if they are not aware of what they are doing wrong.  If my helper makes a mistake, I get angry and tell her not to do it again.  What I should do is spend time with the helper to explain what she did wrong and what she can do to avoid the same mistake.

Teamwork is key to a better and healthier relationship with my helpers.  Expectations should be very clear.  What is the job description?  What is the role of each member of the family?  What contribution is expected from each person?  A successful management of the household is not dependent on the  helpers alone -- It is how well each member of the household work together as a team to make our house a home -- clean, functional and filled with happy people!

It was indeed a productive session.  I learned a lot from Coach Pia and the SoMoms.  My heartfelt thanks to OneCORE, Arix Philiipines - Tonkita, Marca Pina Cheeseball and Gustare Kitchen.


Thank you OneCORE for our #BetterMe sessions with Coach Pia.  OneCORE is an organization that supports individuals in making better life decisions.  Visit www.theonecore.com to know more about OneCORE.


Arix is one of the major players in the European household cleaning sector and is among the first world producers of abrasive fibers and sponges.  When Arix aquired Tonkita two years ago, they gave it a new look.  Tonkita brooms for indoor and outdoor use are all entirely made from 100% recyclable materials and bristles made from recycled materials.  But Tonkita is not just about brooms, it has a complete range of tools and accessories for cleaning and taking care of all domestic spaces, designed for ease of use and immediate results.


Marca Pina Dutch Edam Queso de Bola can be eaten sliced, cubed or can also be used as an ingredient in pastries, breads and other culinary dishes.  It is made in Holland but the distinct taste of Marca Pina is specially made only for the Philippine market.  Marca Pina bring in fresh shipments annually for its clients to have the full shelf life of 18 months.  

Trivia -- Pina (Pineapple) symbolizes prosperity in Chinese hence this is a perfect gift idea for family and friends.

The black pancit is to the die for.  I am not fond of pancit but this, I love!  Call (02) 4030345 to know more about their menu and of course, to order.  You may also check them out at www.facebook.com/GustareKitchen. 

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Myra is no longer with us.  It's complicated.  Hahaha.  She cleans well, she smiles a lot and very courteous but she has too much family problems to deal with.  She left 2 weeks ago because her ex-husband died but she never returned.  She said she will be back as soon as her problems are solved.  I am not counting on her return but who knows...

I know you have a lot of maid horror stories and success stories. Please share your tips and some of the things you learned from your experiences.
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