If you have said or heard this phrase “After all I did/have done for her, she still left”, or “All these maids don’t like when you are good to them, they like people who are strict”, you are about to discover why it is so.
One of the not-so-rosy sides to hiring a new maid is the uncertainty and anticipation that accompanies the decision. How will my new maid behave? How soon is too soon to lay down rules? Do I treat her like my sister? Should I send her to school? Do I wait for her to do something bad before I become firm? Where should I draw boundaries? Will correction or punishment make me look wicked? and so on.
Also, because of the quality of maids being outsourced by agencies, there lies the burden of communication. We do all the talking and our maids do all the listening and nodding in agreement. In many homes, there is hardly a two-way conversation where maids can contribute or put forward a suggestion. The result of this is that employers end up doing things they feel is right and their responsibility, but in reality, brings discomfort to their maids.
Below, I throw some light on five things your maid wished you knew, but wouldn’t tell you. And just like you may have experienced, the only way she feels she can get out of that situation is to rebel or leave.
She wants a structure and routine
She knows she would be more efficient and a better planner if she had a routine or knew way ahead what needs to be done. She knows that with better planning, you didn’t have to send her to the market three times last week. She doesn’t want to wake up every day anticipating the new thing you will ask her to do. “Go to the shop”, “go and help my friend”, “go to grandma’s house and help them for the weekend” while her regular chores still await her. She doesn’t want to be told on her day off that she can’t go because something came up. As her employer, you have the mentality that she is there to do EVERYTHING you ask her to. But in reality, she was made to understand that her primary duty was house chores. So except you clearly stated it before hiring, tone down the spontaneity.
She may not be ready to go to school
She didn’t come prepared to handle the pressure and competition that a school environment brings. She knows she doesn’t have the capacity to cope with school demands and all the things she is still expected to do in your home. She just wants to learn a little English, which she feels if she stays in your home long enough, she should be able to speak. She wishes you wouldn’t force it, but ask her what she wants to do. She wants to save enough money to open a shop for her mom and learn a marketable skill. You want to send her to school out of the goodness of your heart, but she is not just ready. If you insist on it, you are slowing down her already laid out plan and she may decide to leave.
She doesn’t want to be treated like your daughter immediately
Seems strange right? But those shoes are too big to fill outrightly. The pressure to be a “city girl” overnight is overwhelming. The expensive clothes and bright shoes that you try to use to give her a make-over are a little too much for her, so she runs away. It is not her fault. Where she is coming from, nobody gave her anything for free. There always had to be a catch. So when you start to introduce her as your daughter and a relation to your biological daughters, she is wondering what you would demand in return. Her freedom? Her background? Do you want her to forget where she is coming from and now be a city girl?
For now, she only wants to be treated respectfully as a human being and employee. She didn’t come to be “tushed” up. She came to work. Give her room to grow into that lifestyle gradually.
She wants to be seen as a value provider, not a project
She is used to hearing “After all I have done for you” and wondering when you will start to talk about all she has done for you. Will you have been able to attend to all the things you attend to if she wasn’t holding down the needs at home? You didn’t rescue her for the village inasmuch as you believe you did. You needed someone to help, she could provide that service, so you hired her. In reality, you both need each other.
Your being principled and firm doesn’t scare her
She has a leadership vacuum and is in search of someone who she can look up to, who will hold her accountable and call her out when she is wrong. I have heard people say that maids respect the employer who treats them badly over one who is nice to them and gives them a pass when they commit an offense. While being wicked is wrong, your maid understands discipline and knows the aftermath of being disciplined is growth. Don’t be scared to draw clear boundaries, give constructive corrections and give punishments when warranted. She doesn’t see you as wicked, she sees you as principled.
Now that you know these things, I hope it helps you take steps to improve your relationship with your maid.
Now tell me, if your maid had the courage to tell you these things, what would your reaction be?
This article was first written and published for Bella Naija, HERE