Want to focus better on your career, even while everything's running smoothly at home? Manage your maid - here's how.
At the risk of sounding reductionist I'd say urban Indian families can be divided into two types: the Smug- 'we-have-a-good-maid' Type and the Harassed-'constant maid-problem' Type. Your day to-day life is largely determined by which group you belong to. The Smug Type breezes through life with perfectly brewed tea, golden buttered toast, well-scrubbed children and an efficient kitchen that would put any corporate office to shame. Life is tough for the Harassed Type.
The tea is too cold/ strong/ weak/ milky/ sweet, her demands are endless and so are the consequent sulking bouts. Let me admit here I am very much the Smug Type. After our return from the UK, we got her and she is one reason we will never leave the country again! I can almost hear you say, 'That's plain lucky'. Agreed, luck is a big factor. But I do think that connecting and relating to maids (sounds old fashioned, but I prefer it to the slightly demeaning 'maid') is an art.
So here I have for you some strategies that I have found useful:
My housecleaner in England expected as much respect from me as I would give my doctor. We would have a midday 'cuppa' across the table, sharing our parental woes. In India, our maids have no option but to accept any rubbish that is thrown at them. And then we get hassled when we feel they are being disrespectful! Clear roles and boundaries: At the outset it is important that you have clear roles and boundaries chalked out to avoid future misunderstandings.
Household chores, childcare responsibilities need to be put down in the contract with a clear understanding of annual increments, leaves and medical expenses.
You have a bad day at work, or the traffic is horrendous, or your spouse is being insensitive, there are no prizes for guessing who gets the brunt of your anger. And why? "Because I can get away with it, nobody else will take that trash from me," is how one of my therapy clients put it.
Choose your battles
I call it the 'traffic light approach'. For example, green light for her frequent phone calls that annoy you but could be ignored. Amber light for things that need an occasional word of caution from you such as hygiene in the kitchen and red light for things that are an absolute no-no, like shouting at children.
Offering small perks
Do small things to give her a sense of belonging and appreciation. Small knick-knacks from outstation trips, outings, her favourite mithai , apart from those annual Diwali presents. Show interest in her life and her family.
Patience is virtue
If she is taking time to keep pace with your standard of work, then you need to learn to be patient. Keep instructions simple, repeat yourself and let her master one skill before you move her up another level.
It is best not to react if something has been troubling you about her. Set aside time for regular meetings in which you can discuss any niggling issues. Do express your concerns but be prepared to hear her out. Most sticky issues can be ironed out with a little negotiation. And if it does not work out, call it quits respectfully.
Praise, praise, praise
What you focus on grows. Notice every positive action, thank her every time she even gets you a glass of water, compliment her on her thoughtfulness. It always works. As Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist Master, would have put it, "water her wholesome seeds of goodness, and watch her blossom." Live in peace.
You can use bookmybai.com to look for a qualified and reliable maid in Mumbai and Thane.