By Donna Burfield, Founder of Joy and Purpose Coaching
When you arrive in the UAE it is surprising to many how affordable it is to have home help. You can go through an agency for a part time cleaner or you can sponsor someone to live in and work for you full time.
Many families hire a maid and have them double up as a nanny but so often parents get confused as to the job description and responsibilities of a nanny and maid. This misunderstanding of what each role entails can result in expectations that can’t be realistically or safely be met.
Having extra help with the household chores and keeping the wee ones entertained is a welcomed luxury. Many of us would not be able to afford this resource if we were back in our home countries.
Knowing your children are safe and you get to come home to a clean house takes a load off your shoulders and allows you to spend quality time as a family and also one-on-one time with your partner.
I am sure we can all agree that the quality of care and the safety of our children should never be compromised so gaining a better understanding into what each position requires will help foster a respectful, professional and positive relationship between you and your employee.
Au-Pair – usually an international college/university student who will work 25 hours per week assisting in childcare and light cleaning duties in exchange for food and accommodation so they can continue with their studies. Previous experience is not usually a requirement but some basic childcare knowledge is a bonus.
Mother’s Help – this position requires the candidate to be flexible as day-to-day tasks will vary and the mother is usually a stay-at-home Mum who needs some extra support around the house and with taking care of the children. The mother’s help is to assist the mother.
Nanny – is someone who has had previous experience looking after children on a one-to-one basis, has relevant certificates/qualifications that support the child’s mental and physical development, health and safety, stimulating activities and is confident and competent in fulfilling the necessary job description.
A nanny’s sole priority is the well-being of the child and to work alongside the parents. She will also have regular meetings with the parents to inform them of what is being done, what is going well and which areas need addressing.
Duties include all things related to the child:
Clean play areas and children’s rooms
Perform housekeeping tasks related to children as needed (food shopping, laundry)
Transport children to and from school and extracurricular activities
Prepare the children’s meals
Bathe the children
Organize activities and educational games
Teach children appropriate social behaviors, such as being respectful to each other, manners, helping out with chores, tidying up after themselves, dressing themselves and personal hygiene
Assist with homework
Ensure children’s safety during indoors and outdoors activities
Maid – A maid’s number one priority is the upkeep of your residence.
Clean the house
Minor clothes repair
May also include:
Washing the car
Care for the pets
Water the garden
Cooking family meals
When I was 17, I became an Au-pair, and for the next 7 years I traveled the world and worked as a mother’s help and then a Nanny. Each of these positions are very different from each other with different expectations, hours, pay and competency.
My time as a domestic worker taught me a lot about running a household and caring for children, it also allowed me to go to night college to become a Montessori teacher. The other thing it taught me was how to treat your employees and how not to treat them!
I can still remember vividly the day one of my bosses turned to me and said “I own you”. Thankfully I was placed with that family via an agency and I handed in my notice there and then.
Respect is a two-way street and no matter of one’s education or pay grade everyone deserves the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
Before you employ a maid or nanny be clear on the following:
Which duties do I want them to carry out?
What is going to be their main priority – house or children?
Do they have the relevant training/qualifications to support the physical and mental well-being and safety for my child?
Am I willing to invest in their development?
Even though someone is living in your house there are still ethical and moral boundaries that need to be respected and put in place
This is a job and your employee is doing this for the same reasons you and your partner work – to provide for their family
If you are hiring a maid to look after your children then set days for them to do the cleaning when the children are at nursery/school or someone is home to care for them. Do you really want her taking her attention away from your little one so she can mop the floor?
Parents and maids who wish to enter into a maid/nanny arrangement should clearly outline the housekeeping expectations by detailing the tasks, frequency they must be and the cleaning schedule in a written work agreement/contract. This ensures that the expectations are understood by both parties and that there are no misunderstandings as to the maid’s role.
Get familiar with the UAE Labour Law https://u.ae/en/information-and-services/jobs/domestic-workers/uae-policy-on-domestic-helpers
If you plan on having someone look after your children, I encourage you to invest in them doing a pediatric first aid course. If you as a parent aren’t familiar with first aid then this is worth looking into for yourself as well. Courses cost around AED 450. http://firstaiduae.com/pediatric-first-aid/ https://safehandsuae.com/product/pediatric-first-aid-training/paediatric-first-aid-training-course-english-individuals-1-day/
Caring for children and keeping the house in order are both daunting tasks on their own, ask any mother! Having this extra support can elevate a lot of stress and from your day-to-day life and free up time for you have fun with your loved ones and to recharge your batteries!