Whether she’s new to the role or new to your household, your domestic helper will be able to do her job better if she understands you, your home and your family.

While she would probably have undergone some training at her maid agency, nothing beats a personal orientation from her new employer.

Although your maid has been taught standard rules to follow at the agency, if there are other rules you want to set in place for her, you should make them known early. For example, if it doesn’t sit well with you, you should make it clear to her that she should not bring her friends over to your home when you’re not around.

A Singapore maid agency manager explains how you
can orientate your new maid to your household. Image: Corbis

Sumen Rai, manager at Status Employment Agency, explains how you can help your new domestic helper:

1. UNDERSTAND YOUR KIDS BETTER
Introduce them to one another and buy a small gift for her to give to them. Explain each child’s character, likes and dislikes, so she understands them better. Give them some time together during which they can bond – perhaps your helper can play with your little ones or teach them a new game. At the same time, make it clear to your kids that your helper is older than them and they have to respect her.

2. GET ALONG WITH YOUR ELDERLY RELATIVES
Give your helper the low-down on your relatives’ temperaments, personality and so on. Explain to her that although they may get grumpy at times due to their medical condition and/or age, she should not take their crabbiness or fussiness too personally. 

Share with her the food preferences of these relatives, the types of food that they can’t eat, the medicine that needs to be administered to them, and what to do if they need medical help urgently. Teach her to adopt a positive attitude when dealing with them, especially if they are picky.

3. HANDLE AND MANAGE YOUR PETS
Before you hire your new helper, check if she is willing to look after pets. If she is not, do not hire her. If she is, teach her how to bathe and feed your pets, how to prepare their meals, and how many times a day to walk them or take them outside. If there are specific commands you use on your dogs, let your helper know so she can manage the animals better.

4. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE HOUSE GUESTS
If you have visitors over, your helper should be told how to make their stay as pleasant as possible. Tell her to be polite to them and to avoid getting in their way. Also tell her not to touch their belongings – for example, they may not want her to do their laundry for them – and to only do what is told.

5. SHOP FOR GROCERIES
Work with her to do up a shopping list, and then tell her how often she has to restock items in the fridge, how much/many of a particular item you always buy, brands you like/dislike and so on. She should be able to prepare shopping lists on her own after a while, but remind her to always show you this list before she goes to the market.

6. HANDLE MONEY
Tell her that whenever she goes grocery shopping, she must keep the receipt and give you back all the change. This will help prevent any potential misunderstandings. 

7. GET AROUND BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Take her around the neighbourhood at least twice so she is comfortable and familiar with the area. Explain the bus and MRT routes to her, how to travel to the supermarket from home,for example, and how much the fares are.

8. FEEL COMFORTABLE IN A NEW COUNTRY
Explain what Singaporean culture is like – the different races, practices and lifestyles. Go through the country’s basic laws and rules with her so she does not violate them, and make sure she knows the penalties for breaking these laws.

9. FEEL COMFORTABLE IN YOUR HOME
All your helper really wants is a decent home to work in – that means a home that is warm and welcoming, where the family members are jovial and always willing to talk to her and help her.

When you bring her home for the first time, tell her that she is part of the family, and let her know that you will always be there for her if she needs advice and guidance. Of course, also tell her your house rules – and these rules should be applicable to the whole family.

Status Employment Agency is located at 10 Anson Road, International Plaza, #02-83, Singapore 079903. For further enquiries, call 6224 7323 or email: enquiry@statusmaids.com.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer August 2011.