“Overpay and undercriticise,” says Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years, on how to keep good domestic staff once you get them. Afterall, they take a great burden off you especially if you’re a working mum; they keep your house tidy, help care for your kids, assist in keeping every mouth fed and clothes properly laundered, and may even handle your shopping, thus freeing you to be a better professional, wife and mother. So, how do you keep a good one?
1. Make Everything Clear to Her
From the get go, make sure she knows what is expected of her; from her job description to her mode of conduct. Outline her duties and don’t assume she should know what house helps do. Is she primarily a nanny or primarily a housekeeper; is caring for the children her priority, or should her focus be taking care of the house? If she’s cleaning the entire house, does that include your bedroom? Will she be bathing the kids or will that remain your exclusive duty? Is she allowed to serve your husband? What can’t she wear? What can’t she touch? Be very clear from the beginning, otherwise, she will make unnecessary, avoidable mistakes and you both will become frustrated.
2. Pay Her Well
While not everyone has the wherewithal to overpay, it is only fair that your help receives fair wages. Ask her what she’d like to earn, and if you can’t pay it, agree on something you’re both comfortable with. If you can go above it, then do so. Whatever you do, be sure not to cheat her. If you agree on a probation period after which her pay will be increased, ensure you stick to it.
3. Think Beyond Just Money
It’s important that you care about your house help’s well-being. Make sure she is sound in body and mind. Give her perks and treats, and make her feel like a part of the family. If she desires to learn a trade or get more education, be committed to helping her to the best of your ability. Give her books to read, answer her questions when you can and let her know you have her back. Let her know that there’s more in it for her than money and she’ll be more inclined to stay.
4. Help Her Stay Organised
You need to organize yourself first, of course. A to-do list is a fine way to achieve this. Also, setting a routine in place will help her run your home more effectively and efficiently.
5. Back Her Up
If she’s helping you raise your kids, then it is important that you allow her to do her job. Once you’ve decided you trust her, try not to micromanage her; it sends the wrong message to her and to your children. Don’t undermine her authority by countering her instructions to your kids, or reversing her decisions. As she works to guide them aright, back her up.
Unless you keep your house help away from your kids and kitchen, never lose sight of the fact that the most precious people in your life are under her care. Be wise. Be kind.
About the author: Joy Ehonwa is a writer, editor and online proofreader who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a copy-editing, ghostwriting and transcription business, blogs at www.anafricandiva.wordpress.com and www.girlaware.wordpress.com and tweets @JoyEhonwa