Weekly State Department Blog Round Up for February 11, 2011

11 Feb

Most people in the United States didn’t grow up with having full-time or even part time help in the house, and rarely did we have cooks, drivers, guards or gardeners. One of the exciting prospects of living abroad is the thought of having household help.

For this week’s State Department Blog Round Up, we are hearing some tales from around the globe about some ups and downs of hiring household help while in the Foreign Service.  I should also mention that we all pay for our own household help. And, at least in my case, my house here gets dirtier so much more quickly, shopping takes twice as long, driving is super insane, and I do some work from home.  I’m sure I could survive without my helpers, but it makes life a whole lot easier and more livable having them!

There’s a lovely lady in Costa Rica….so lovely in fact, that she has an entire Ode to P dedicated to her on Sara’s blog, Wife Mommy Woman.  She sounds like a dream….congrats on finally finding “the one”.

Sadly, not every houseworker is worthy of our trust, which is the recent and unfortunate case for Aaron, who is looking for thieves in Guadalajara.

Diane in the Philippines has marked a milestone of living in Manila for six months. Congratulations!  In her list of Strengths and Challenges about her new life, she includes domestic help….read it to see if it’s listed in the “Strengths” or “Challenges” section!

Shannon at Cyberbones always seems to have a great story to share, this week being no exception.  Find out what her driver saw her doing while living in Jakarta.

Devon in Cameroon and I have something in common…a hired helper who simply can’t find a way to arrive at work….on time….ever.  Read her interesting tale of the Mysterious Cameroonian Housekeeper.

Ever thought about battery acid? Ever wonder what other people think about it?  Find out what Naomi’s driver did to battery acid in Nairobi….pretty funny, not wrong, just different.

In a thought-provoking post about regarding others, Hazel’s mom tells about an interaction with her ayi, and other things in China.

And while I’m not nearly as funny (or funny at all) as The Late Show’s Top Ten List, I did make my own list of things I like and don’t like about having houseworkers.

If you are hiring a houseworker, I would also recommend these tips:

  • Go on someone’s recommendation – not necessarily a current employee’s recommendation, but a neighbor, someone at the  Consulate/Embassy, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell them what you expect.
  • Make a list of daily/weekly chores.
  • Oversee them.  Don’t plan outings during their first week or two of employment if possible.
  • If it is a nanny you are hiring, stay near to them and the child(ren) for as long as you can. Just because they “are” a nanny doesn’t mean they do things the way you want them to or know how to care for your child in your American way.
  • Expect cultural differences and choose wisely which things you want to correct.
  • Get a safe and put your precious things in it.
  • Do the laundry yourself, or really really really teach them how. I’m not sure my maid had ever run a washing machine before.
  • Pay the going rate, but let them go early, do nice things, etc.
  • Don’t expect anyone to be on time!
  • Don’t expect your house worker to come in the rain.
  • Realize their situation; it may have taken them an hour on the bus to get to your house.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them to wash their hands, change their clothes (provide a uniform like scrubs).
  • Learn the language enough to communicate with your houseworker.
  • Understand that an American’s way of doing something will (likely) be different than the local culture. Give and take!
  • If you can find someone who will do a mani/pedi or a massage at your home…do it!  It rocks!!!

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