The Maid and The Kids

Managing the maid isn’t only about managing her work, it is also about managing relationships. Relationship with us and relationship with the kids. Managing the maid’s relationship with the kids is not an easy task. There is a fine line to draw in many areas. For example, we do not want the kids to start taking her for granted. We also do not want the kids to get too close to her and become manja with her etc. Like I said, its a fine line.

I have some house rules when it comes to managing the maid and the kids. I have told the maid…

  • not to help them to wear their shoes unless we are in a hurry. She doesn’t help me to dress or feed them so the rest is not a problem. I want independant kids, not kids who rely on the maid to do everything for them.
  • not to manja them. This is especially if I am scolding them and they she tries to comfort them. I will tell her to leave them alone. I explained to her that this is because I do not want to have kids that are “kurang ajar” (have no manners) in case she feels hurt or insulted when I tell her to “kakak, biar kan dia!” Kids will be kids and they will try to take comfort in anyone who is there for them. I certainly do not want a situation where the kids will run to the maid everytime I scold them. This is a no no for me. The maid also tends to like to carry the little one especially if he complains that he is tired. My little boy likes to make a big show that he is very very tired when he wants to be carried especially when he is bored from walking around the malls. I do not want a manja little kid who wants to be carried all the time so I always ask her to put him down when he behaves like that. My husband and I do not want to encourage his behaviour so we don’t always pick him up when he complains that he is tired so we do not want him to take advantage of the fact that the maid will pick him up. If we allow this, we will be telling him indirectly, that it is ok to go to kakak when we are stern with him. This creates un unhealthy situation where the kids will turn to the maid against the parents.
  • not to take any instructions from the kids. I also told the kids not to give any instructions to the maid. Instructions must come from me only. If they want to request a ribena, for example, they must ask me first. I have told the maid to tell them “tanya mummy dulu” or “mummy kata tak boleh” if they go to her. Even then, as she is pouring the drink, sometimes they will ask “kakak, saya mau lebih manis. Manis dan sejuk.” It is really a fine line.
  • the kids must treat the maid with respect. Sometimes the small one, throws a black face at her if she is too busy to play with him. Or another example is, they may talk loudly to her or push her hand away if she tries to wear the seatbelt for them in the backseat and they refuse. My husband and I will not allow this. If any of the kids speak to the maid with disrespect, they will be reprimanded immediately.

However, I am guilty of a number of things. When we browsing at the bookshop or walking around the mall for example. me and hubby sometimes tend to leave the kids with the maid for short spurts of time so that we can look around. I really should be with the kids myself.

Another thing, sometimes when we are busy, we would allow the kids to play with the maid for a while. As a result the kids have become very close to the maid. We get a little uncomfortable if we see them too close. On the one hand, it is good that the maid likes the kids but on the other hand, well, who knows?  Its a fine line.

This maid really knows how to entertain kids as her main task with a previous employer was to look after the kids. She would teach them to sing, play hide and seek and other silly games with them. The kids like her a lot. I suppose this is a good thing but at the same time it worries me a bit too. Sometimes when I tell them “If kakak wants to take  you anywhere on your own WITHOUT mummy and daddy, you are NOT to go.” They don’t understand and they ask “Why?” How do you explain to a 5 and 7 year old that it is not a good idea to go anywhere with kakak on their own WITHOUT mummy and daddy’s permission when that kakak lives in your house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year?

The maid does have the tendency to manja the kids a bit. So I have to always be on guard to see that she does not carry this out too far. She has also previously proudly proclaimed to me that her previous charges prefer her to their mother. According to her, she basically had to do everything for the kids previously. She bathed, dressed, fed them, walked them to school and back, made sure they do their homework and slept with them. I had to explain to her that perhaps she had to do things differently previously maybe because she has to listen to the kids a bit more since that makes them easier to control. But I want to have good mannered and well behaved kids so we will not manja them or they will turn out to be naughty and disrespectful.

So, hopefully, after giving her the reasons for my actions and explaining how I want my kids to be brought up, she will not take it personally when I say “Kakak, biarkan dia!” Because at the point when I say this, its usually in a loud voice because I am disciplining the kids at the time. I surely don’t want her to misunderstand and think that I am disciplining her! I must admit that I also feel a bit annoyed when I see her trying to go to the kid as I am disciplining them or trying to carry them or wear their shoes for them when they complain that they are tired.

I told her that kids will be kids and if you always rush to them to give in to their demands, soon they will learn that if they demand for something, even in an unreasonable manner, they will get what they want. Then the kids will end up being rude and demanding. I want to make it clear what I prefer and what I don’t but I have to explain the reasons why so she will understand. Phew! Managing relationships is almost as hard if not harder than managing housework.

Can you share with me how you manage your maid and the kids or if you don’t have a maid, how you think this should be managed? So that I can add to my list of rules in case I miss anything out. 😛


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15 thoughts on “The Maid and The Kids

  1. I have almost the same concepts like you, when I had a maid last time. She works for us for 2 years, so there’s a lot of “discussions” on how to handle my kids. But she will have full charge if both hubby and I were not around, and she knows what can be done, and what’s not. Actually, I told her that she can “scold” my kids, if they were too naughty when we were not around. 😛 But she won’t get physical la, and I know how her scolding was.
    You are doing the right thing. Same as you, I prefer more independent kids than those who let kakak to handle everything. Another thing is, some “parents” are too depending on kakak, they won’t go out without the maids. O.o

    I don’t ask my maid to scold the kids because I sked she abuse that right. 😛

  2. I am also facing a tough time managing my maid’s relationship with my kids. My maid always likes to be me! Despite telling her repeatedly, she always raises her voice with the kids, the same tone that I do whenever I reprimand them. She even pinched my #2’s cheek. After telling her off, she has stopped laying her hands on my kids, but she still scolds them and tries to be me all the time. Consequently, my kids don’t like her, esp. my #1.

    Alamak! So how you handle hah? Blog lah.

  3. I’m having the same problem like you especially when we went to the shopping mall and was busy looking for something or she got to play with Darren while I was working on something at home. I felt extremely guilty after that, feeling that I should not let them be alone. I am trying hard not to repeat that too frequent.

    That’s why many relatives and friends said that my maid very “hou meng”. No need to do work when go out coz we are the one who still in charge of Darren MOST OF THE TIME. She even get to eat peacefully while I busy feeding Darren..SIGH!

    But to think of it..I totally agree with all your rules coz they are our kids. We should take full charge of them and letting someone else do the job.

    I am the same as you. When we are eating out, the maid relax and enjoy her meal while I feed two kids and myself. Hahaha.

  4. We have quite similar house rules with the maids. After all, I am not raising a “xiao jie” or “siu ye”, don’t want them to be pampered like queen and king by the maid. I reprimand my kids when they are rude to kakak and when they commanding kakak to do certain things and I teach them to say “thank you” and “please” to kakak. One good thing is that this maid is too straight forward and won’t interfere when I discipline the kids and never manja them also.

    You just reminded me about the “Thank you” and “Please” part. Thanks!

  5. I share the same concerns as you do and those are the reasons why I said no when hubby asked if we need a maid. But then again, I have only 1 kid so its easier for me to say that.

    I guess since you had lay down the rules, the maid should know what is expected though it’s different from her previous charges.

    I was always against having a maid. I took one in for health reasons lah but now that I have one, I must say it really really helps me, especially now that the kids are going to school. I would go mad just washing their uniform and shoes and getting them ironed out in time for each day. Hahaha. Now the maid helps me with that so I have more time to help my kids with their homework and talk to them about school etc. It has turned out quite well so far.

  6. Errr…I no maid. Since day 1. So… can’t really say anything, but just follow your heart.

    I only recently got a maid so this is all new to me. Still learning.

  7. we had similar rules when we had a maid with us. basically, her duty was to clean the house and do the laundry. we didn’t let our little boys sleep in her room. i remembered that i still took charge of bathing my elder kid when i was heavily pregnant with my #2. i could have asked her to do it, but i reminded myself that there’s no way that i’ll allow her to play the mommy role with my kids.

    you’ve done a wonderful job so far. keep it up 🙂

    PLaying the mommy role is no way. I’ve seen many maids play the mommy role, carrying babies close to them in a sling etc. I feel that the real mommies are missing out on the bonding part with their babies and allowing the babies to bond with the maid instead. There is something not quite right about that.

  8. hmm, i never bring my maid out because i believe in family time.

    Secondly, i reckon my maid loves my son too much. How would you react seeing the maid hugging ur kid or kissing ur kid (at the cheek)? I dont feel nice cos I’m jealous that my son likes her??? furthermore, my son “chat” with the maid more than me. i see philip blah-ing away with the maid more often. philip laugh more too when playing with maid. what to do huh? cant blame the maid since the maid spend more tiem with philip? (i’m work 9-5pm and maid takes care from 9-5pm)

    i allow the maid to discipline philip. the intention is to inform philip that he can do this, he cannot do this. i told them maid not to spoil him.

    You must be careful that she does not abuse this right to discipline though. You know lah, even we the mothers, sometimes lose it during times when the kid becomes impossible.

  9. While we may want to protect our mother-child relationship and feel it prudent to draw a line on her relationship with our kids, we need bear in mind that yours is the only family she has here.

    Fact is, regardless of who we are and what positions we hold in the household dynamics, a sense of belonging is a basic and essential human need. Therein lies the challenge cos while she’s a member of our household, she is not a family member. As such there is clearly, a tension between empathy (for her loneliness which is central to her happiness and emotional stability and consequently ability to function as a maid) and our natural instinct to be territorial over our family relationships.

    I totally agree with you that it is a challenge for us because we want to treat her like family but she is not quite family. When I wrote about this issue once, a maid wrote in to say, that she was surprised because she does not want to become part of family of any household that she works for. She’d rather that the lines between employer and employee are clearer and she was surprised that the maids sits down with us, have munchies and watch tv together. I hadn’t thought about that before, the fact, that they may actually prefer not to be part of the family because of the implications of that relationship. With “family” you may be obligated to do more than what you are paid for and that may not be something that everyone wants.

  10. cont’d…

    So perhaps, one rule is to attend to her human needs in other ways. Be thoughful.

    Example: celebrate her birthdays in a simple way. Kids love the birthday cake ritual, be it theirs or someone else’. They can make her a card. The opportunity for kids to learn to be gracious, to care about others less fortunate is a bonus. Optionally, employer can also give her a small present, be it a token RM10 angpow or a pair of going-out sandals. My mum gives her Filipina maid a RM10 telephone card to call home on her or her husband’s birthday. Come Christmas, she gets practical presents like inexpensive clothes.

    Believe me, these little gestures go a long way to keeping a maid happy.

    Oh, we do all these things. For her birthday, we got her a cake, sang a song to her and took pictures of her cutting the cake for keepsakes. For Christmas, we got ourselves presents and we got her books to read all nicely wrapped up. For CNY, we took her out shopping to buy new clothes and shoes same as the rest of the family. And we take her everywhere with us when we eat out. Probably thats why the kids are so close to her. Haha.

  11. I think you’re handling it really well! Perhaps you can explain to the kids that “kakak” is helping everyone with the household chores but she’s not family like Mummy and Daddy?

    Therefore, they cannot follow her anywhere on their own. They should ONLY follow Mummy and Daddy. Emphasize that you love them very, very much even if you scold them sometimes?

    I understand how you feel as I was worried too when Lucas liked his kindy teachers and regular maid a lot (they are ALWAYS nice vs nasty Mum)!

    Perhaps I have overemphasized that point because whenever I scold them, the boy and girl would discuss among themselves and say “but mummy still loves us” or “mummy loves us no matter what” to which I have to reply “Yes, mummy loves you no matter what and that is why mummy is trying to teach you to be a good little boy/girl.” etc.

  12. interesting to see the responses you got here. well, i’m also like you, new in this and still want to be hands on in everything i do in the house.

    in terms of housework, i have let that go 100% since i got the maid but of course with constant monitoring of her work now and then as my maid tend to be inconsistent at times.

    as for handling my kids, yes like you and some other moms here, i do get really jealous when i see that she’s playing with my no.1 so closely. but i got no choice as i’ve to attend to my newborn now. it really gets to me but i remind myself that she’s only here short term – i dont really tend to keep her longer than 2 years unless she has proven to be that she’s capable (which she hasn’t).

    when i can cope, i will handle no. 1 myself. if i can’t, i will let the maid do it. i have let go alot since no. 2 came along so the maid will shower/play/change my no. 1. but as for feeding, it is still us parents that will feed her.

    anyway, ur also doing a great job dealing with ur maid. i can’t say the same for me coz i don’t know why but i do feel irritated by my maid lately. haha..but no, i’ve not scolded her or anything, jst corrected her firmly when she doesn’t do a good job. i don’t intend to scold her coz i still need to be with her for another 15 months or so (so fast eh?!).

    Actually thats part of the problem with having maid. Its easy to ask them to help out with the kids when we are tired but without one, we will have to do no matter what. Previously, with two kids, no maid, mil, confinement lady or whatever, I also survived. But now, sometimes, just sometimes, I take the easy way out and ask the maid to “babysit” for me occassionally however much I resolve not to. 😛

  13. I can’t say that I’ve ever had any problems with a maid, but I grew up with a succession of maids in the household. I used to see how much these maid-relationship management problems were zapping my mom’s energy. But because she had someone to wash the dishes and clean her toilets for her all the time, she took any free time she had and had a life. She was a happier mom, albeit not as attentive.

    I don’t live in Malaysia but a lot of my friends in KL are polar opposites- either hands-on moms without maids or hands-off moms with maids. VERY different types of women, though. It really depends on what kind of arrangement suits your personality.

    Over here, women rely on the clothes dryer, the dishwasher, the automatic vacuum cleaner, the occasional cleaning lady, high tech daycare that costs over AUD$100 per DAY, garden sprinkler systems, waste management systems, home delivered catered food (if needed)….. and the kids are more independent (in comparison) for sure.

    Implosion, thats a wonderful insight and observation. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I hv a starkly contrasting situation at my home. My maid is a very submissive person. And she doesn’t hv any experience taking care of children (despite the fact that she has 3 big kids!). Anyway our intention of getting her wasn’t to care for the kids, so we were fine with that. But as my second one came along, needless to say, life became hectic. Easily, we compromised our principle by having her help out in little chores like attending to my daughter (4 yo) in the toilet sometimes. But it always annoyed me that she couldn’t handle even small situation like this, and always end up having me or my hub to interfere. I tried to empower her to do what is right but it nvr work (i strictly forbid her from getting physical with my kids or scolding them unnecessarily). For once, she actually didn’t do anything while my daughter got access to a knife!! I was very frustrated with her lackadaisical attitude in times like this.
    I nvr scolded her (maid), but bcos of her submissive attitude even in front of the kids, my daughter has sensed her inferiority and started to ‘bully’ her. My husband couldn’t tolerate that and almost always end up reprimanding my daughter, sometimes more than necessary in my opinion. I told him, the maid is an adult, she ought to fend for herself sometimes – i.e. stand up and act like an respect-able adult w/o us hovering over her all the time! Kids are very sensitive, they can sense the lack of confidence or fear in a thousand miles away. We always make sure they are respectful and polite with everyone, including the maid. But sometimes i don’t blame my kid for being a little nasty to my maid – respect and trust need to be earned, too, right? If the maid (or anyone) is a thief or cheater, i don’t supposed we should still expect our children to respect them, do we?

    one thing i couldn’t agree more from reading this – no matter what kind of maid you get, managing relationships and their status in the family is always something very difficult and challenging.

    just my long-winded two-cents. 🙂

    I like receiving “long-winded” comments. 🙂 Anyway, we are still managing relationships although she has long become accustomed to the household tasks and schedules. Relationships on the other hand, has no schedule. We have to be aware and sensitive towards her while we are trying hard to make sure we bring up the kids in a proper manner. Not easy at all. I think in your case, it is even harder.

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