Things to Consider Before Working out Helper’s Schedule

Balance each family member’s need and your desire for a clean and well run home before working out your helper’s schedules.

It is best if these needs were discussed prior to selection of your helper at the agency but t is never too late to do so or even to tweak your expectations after she arrives since so much depends of her skills set. More often than not, a large gap exists between what is stated as their skill sets in their “bio-data” and what we require.  Your family members’ needs and your standard of living (i.e. the level of cleanliness, neatness and number of home-cooked meals daily etc) will determine your helper’s duties. Your answers to these questions will aid you in making a list of her duties:

  • Family’s size and their age composition. Of these members, how many are matured and able bodied;
  • Are both parents working? Are there any grandparents who live in or visit? Which of them are able bodied and are willing to help with any of the childcare or household chores? Who else in in your support group?
  • Are there family members whose needs are special? What are they and can a helper meet all of those needs? Can she be taught these skills and what is the length of time both of you have before she will be able to meet this need? Who will train her to acquire these skills if you are not able to? Where are these other sources of help?

Once you have made a list of your needs and who will take care of these needs, you will have a better idea of your helper’s job description.

Additional sources of help. Consider these other options. These will include sending your car to the car wash, allowing the helper to run errands using a taxi service, sending linens and curtains to be professionally laundered, hiring a gardener, hiring of a part timer or even another helper to fully accomplish all those needs.

During the first month of a baby’s life or what is locally termed the “confinement month”, some hire confinement nannies. Ideally, they offer an experienced hand to meet the new mother’s and baby’s needs. Many nannies seem to originate from Malaysia so they will have to obtain a work permit.  A search on the internet will give your more details.

Many families consider infant and child care services as well. Institutions and corporations here have been offering childcare for more than 3 decades. More and more of these services are coming on stream. There are also several tax advantages for using these services.

Training in specific areas of work is now offered by several organizations and corporations. I have not used any of these services myself so I cannot share any experiences. For now, if I am short on time to train personally, I would use these short courses as a very basic introduction to the skill involved.

There is a non-profit organization called “The Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Skills Training” (in short it is referred to as “Fast”). Together with their partner, Grace Management & Consultancy Services, they run several types of programs for helpers. These programs are short and usually held on Sundays with the payment of a small fee. Their programs include English language, infant care and elder-care, cooking and baking. Their telephone contact is +65 6509-1535.

I am aware that Thomson Medical Centre offers courses in infant care.  Their website says the contact is Thomson Parentcraft at Tel +65 6251 4090. Click to view

Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The Ministry has imposed certain criteria regarding the employment of helpers. Under some circumstances, employers are be required to undergo “MOM training”  before they are eligible to employ a helper. Your maid agency will be in a position to advice you. Meanwhile, please read what has been published by MOM.  On their website, the helper will be referred to as  “FDW”. The links are as follows:-…/Employer%20Handy%20Guide%20(Lo-Res)_20-12- 2012.pdf…/FDW/FDW%20EG(Eng)%20Std.pdf

Different types of schedules. It is good to keep in mind that there are different types of schedules and they fall mainly into these categories:-

  • daily schedules – deals with the daily care, cooking and housekeeping needs of the family members and even medical needs of elderly members;
  • weekly schedules – deals with marketing and super-marketing needs of the family, tuition or special classes of  the children, laundering of bed linens and towels, doctors’ appointments of elderly members ;
  • bi-monthly or quarterly schedules – deals mainly with clearing refrigerator contents and washing the fridge, polishing of leather shoes and bags, furniture care and maintenance, gardening needs, putting pillows and blankets out to sun ;
  • semi-annual schedules – deals mainly with washing doors and windows and other glass panes, scrubbing and washing driveways and mossy parts of the exterior of the home, overseeing the bigger gardening jobs by the gardener;
  • “family-on-holiday” schedule. Great time to clean out those kitchen drawers and wardrobes, vacuum or dust those library books and shelves. Re-organise that store room! Use this time to catch up on all those other ancillary chores which were left outstanding in your other schedules due to lack of time.



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