It’s been 4 months since the Heartland family hired a transfer maid (still a freaking awesome personal finance decision to DIY the process and purchase the maid insurance myself), and the help that she has rendered has been nothing but amazing thus far. With an extra pair of hands at home, Heartland Boy feels happier as he doesn’t have to do worry about the household chores anymore. During this time, he even managed to score a movie date with Heartland Girl- their first since Olympia was born.
As a maid who has worked 10 years in Singapore, his foreign domestic worker (‘FDW’) comes with bags of experience. Nonetheless, to ensure a consistent parenting approach, Heartland Girl decided to enrol her for a caregiving workshop. Thankfully, the helper embraced the opportunity to upgrade herself. As a result, she is now more confident in carrying out the daily responsibilities required of the job. Here are some of the learning opportunities that their FDW were given since employment.
1. Infant/Baby Caregiving
Even before Olympia was born, Heartland Girl and Heartland Boy made a decision to adopt respectful parenting practices. As a counsellor, taking this parenting approach is second nature to Heartland Girl. For Heartland Boy and the mother-in-law (she wasn’t spared either), they read some books (suggested by the helpful wife/daughter) to understand the philosophy behind respectful, mindful parenting. Now that their helper has emerged as one of the main caregivers, a consistent approach has to be maintained in order to avoid confusion for the baby.
Heartland Girl enrolled her FDW into “The Competent Nanny” course at a total cost of $200. This programme is suitable for caregivers (domestic helper/nanny etc) of children aged between 0-3 years old. As an infant care course, it consists of a 4-hour theory session and a 2-hour practical hands-on session in a playgroup setting spread over 2 days. While the course was conducted in English, Heartland Boy was impressed that her helper’s lecture notes came in bilingual form- English and Bahasa Indonesian. This ensures that she can revise the theories taught in her own mother tongue and at her own pace. What heartened Heartland Boy the most was his helper putting the theories learnt into immediate practice. For instance, he overheard her doing this the very next morning.
“Olympia, Auntie is going to change your pyjamas, OK?” Previously, such requests for permission from the baby were more coincidental than deliberate occurrences.
Here’s another example- baby tripping and bawling subsequently. Previously, his helper’s instinctive reaction would be,” It’s OK. It’s OK. Olympia don’t cry.” Most caregivers, including Heartland Boy, would have probably reacted in a similar manner. However, after attending the workshop, his helper would now say,” Olympia, Auntie saw you fall down. I know it must be very painful,” and proceeded to give her a hug for additional comfort. This was her truly understanding the philosophy of respectful parenting and Heartland Boy considers this as money very well spent.
Another workshop that his helper will be attending next weekend would be the Child & Infant CPR Workshop. It is organised by KK Hospital and as a KKH Parenting Club Member, it will cost $25 per adult for this half-day workshop. Choking is a real possibility when baby is weaning and just starting out on solids, so it is ideal that the main caregivers be equipped with life-saving CPR skills. Like insurance, you never know when you will need them.
2. Cooking Class
Purely as a coincidence, Heartland Boy received a complimentary BOSCH cooking demonstration as a result of purchasing a BOSCH oven to fit out his kitchen after completing the renovation to his BTO flat. He took the opportunity to bring along his helper so that she had the opportunity to learn from a professional chef. Important concepts such as hygiene and safety were emphasized during the cooking demonstration. For instance, why separate knives and chopping boards should be used for cooked and raw food. Nothing beats hearing the instructions from a person of authority.
Most importantly, she gained more confidence in operating the oven, understandably so since the oven is quite a complex equipment to work with. At the same time, his helper was also exposed to several less common kitchen equipment such as a blender, food processor, steamer etc. The best reward was the helper replicating the same healthy dishes at home these days! Heartland Boy realised that his domestic helper really enjoys cooking, so he would consider sending her to cooking class/school in the future if the fees are not too prohibitive.
3. Free Reading Materials
If spending monies and sending your domestic helper to professional courses are not favoured by the employer, another good and free source of information would be the books in the National Library. For example, cookbooks or recipe books are good sources of information as they are usually littered with big and colourful photos. These characteristics make them more manageable for the FDWs as some of them might not be too comfortable reading long sentences in English.
Heartland Boy was very encouraged when his helper read the books that they had borrowed from the library. His helper was particularly drawn to the baby cookbook and expressed her surprise that babies in other parts of the world were eating foods (that’s not porridge) at such a tender young age. She excitedly requested for Heartland Boy to purchase these ingredients so that she can prepare some of the snacks for Olympia. Some of her favourite recipes are:
- Cherry almond smoothie
- Baked salmon begedil
Sometimes, it is worthwhile to invest in human capital in to enable employees to meet the job expectations of the employers. Please do not be mistaken that Heartland Boy is advocating for all employers to send their FDWs for courses. He is purely sharing his helper’s experience on some of the learning opportunities provided to her. Of course, she did resist initially but eventually came to enjoy them and gave positive reviews of the courses attended.