Hiring someone you can trust your child is a difficult task for any parent. And just when you think you finally found one, it isn't always a smooth ride. (Just read this family's experience here). To help parents and yayas have a good working relationship, experts from Good Housekeeping Philippines answer questions about common yaya concerns.
Panel of experts: Menchit Ordoveza (MO) of My Dearest Nanny is a mom of four and conducts trainings for yayas Cristina Mendoza-Joson (CMJ) is a registered nurse and founder of and speaker at the Super Yaya Seminars. Christine Araneta-Ferreira (CAF) is a management consultant and facilitator who conducts workshops on managing house help. Tisha Bautista (TB) is the author of books The Maid Manual for Good Housekeeping Philippines and The Smart Parenting’s Yaya Manual.
1. “Is it better to have a stay-in or stay-out yaya?" MO: In the Philippines, a stay-in yaya is the more common and acceptable arrangement. You do not really want to deal with absences, tardiness, or sickness popping in and out of your house.
2. “Some parents I know installed 'nanny cams' or CCTV cameras in their children’s rooms. Does this really deter nanny misbehavior? What are the pros and cons?” MO: Although they’re impractical and will not make you 100-percent worry-free, CCTV cameras create a psychological impact on our nannies that make them more aware of their actions toward your child. When they know their actions are seen or recorded, they are usually more careful. It may lessen their misbehavior, but may not completely eliminate it.
3. “I know people who don’t let their yayas out -- they literally lock them inside with their kids, fearing they may run off, with or without their kids in tow. Is this advisable, or even safe?” CMJ: First of all, if you do not trust the yaya and feel the need to lock her inside with the kids, then do not leave the kids alone with her. She should not even be their yaya, period.
Every time you have a new yaya, always have her close to you for the first few months. Let her watch how you do things with the kids. Use this time to get to know her and observe which areas she needs your guidance the most. If you are unavailable, ask a family member or someone you trust to stay with the kids and the yaya. Keep doing this until you feel safe enough to leave your kids alone with the yaya.
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I do not agree with locking them inside the house because this is not respecting their right of freedom. They are your employees, not your prisoners. Plus, this is not safe. In case of emergency and a child needs medical attention, how will help get to the child if the adults around cannot open the doors?
4. “I’ll be hiring two yayas for the first time for my toddler. I noticed that most yayas wear uniforms, but some are in plain clothes. What would you suggest is more convenient for my yayas and me?” MO: There are pros and cons. Not wearing a uniform is easier and more convenient, but I think uniforms reflect discipline and cleanliness. CAF: Talk to them and ask them what they’re more comfortable with. Be open to their suggestions and see if you can find a common ground. Remember that a uniform can be as simple as a plain colored T-shirt with comfortable slacks or lose pants. Make sure the uniforms are easy to slip on, fabric is breathable, and they can move around in it while they work.
5. My yaya seems to be always distracted. She texts a lot, and accidents have happened because she wasn’t focused on the job at hand. I’ve spoken to her about it, but there’s no improvement. What should I do?” CAF: It is important to stress to your yaya that her cellphone should be left in her room while she is on duty with your child. She can always check it during her break or when your child is in school or taking a nap. You will need to monitor this for one or two weeks, but she will get used to not having her cellphone with her, especially as she learns to focus on her job. MO: I absolutely agree. The “No cellphone” policy must be applied during working hours.
6. “My yaya likes to wear strong perfume. It’s bothersome and sticks to my child’s clothes. How do I gently tell my yaya to stop wearing perfume?” CAF: Most people do not realize too much perfume until they are told. It would be best to educate your yaya and inform her that “less is more,” and that she can save her perfume and use it during her days off. You may want to inform her that you would rather that she not use any perfume while she is with your child.
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7. ‘‘I’ve asked my yaya to speak in English when she’s speaking to my daughter, but my daughter is picking up her yaya’s heavy accent. How can I correct both my yaya’s and my daughter’s diction?’ CAF: This may be more of a challenge especially when your yaya is from a region where people speak with a thick accent. Correcting your yaya’s accent will be more difficult than correcting your child’s. This will take more time. Reading to your child works best, calling their attention when you hear them pronouncing words incorrectly will slowly allow them to get it right. As your child grows older and is exposed to school and teachers, your child’s diction will improve. Your yaya will pick up the correct accent and your child may even end up teaching her the proper pronunciation.
8. “Should our yaya dine with us when we eat out? Should we let her order her own food, or should we order for her? What is the etiquette for this?’ CAF: It is acceptable for the yaya to sit with the family (usually at the end of the table with your child so she can watch over him or her). It’s always good to offer her the option of ordering her own food, but sometimes she may be embarrassed or won’t know what to order. This is when you can guide her and suggest a meal for her. Consider also that she still has to feed your child at the same time.
9. “My yaya seems to be flirting with my husband. What should I do?” CMJ: As long as your husband is not flirting back, then I suggest that you not make a big deal out of it. If you trust your husband, you need not give this matter unnecessary attention, which may just cause further complications. The moment you feel anything uncomfortable between the two of them, then put your foot down and let go of the yaya.
10. “I found out that my yaya and my driver are together. This makes me feel uncomfortable. Do I have a say, especially since they’re both my employees?” TB: Relationships among household staff are always complicated. You are often faced with double the advantage or double the vulnerability. Decide how important each person is to your household because you stand to lose one or both of them. Personally, I find that if you set the ground rules for the entire household, things are less complicated. People will know how to act and what to do. Make sure you are consistent with your actions, do not break the rules you’ve set, or even make exceptions. Do not play favorites out of fear of losing one member of your staff or you’ll go bananas~ ultimately, the decision is yours. Do what feels comfortable for you. It is, after all, your household.
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11. “My yaya and maid don’t get along. What do I do?” CMJ: If you like both of them enough to keep them, then I suggest having a talk. Sit them down, drink coffee, eat something sweet, and mediate heart-to-heart talk. This will make them feel that you value their problems, it will show them that you are a fair employer as long as they are willing to compromise. In the end, you all need each other to make this work.
12. “My yaya keeps borrowing money from us, and requests that she pay for it by salary deduction. Is there a way to discourage her from this practice without offending her? She might up and leave us.” CAF: Once your help starts borrowing money, it’s difficult to put the brakes on because they treat you like a bank without having no pay interest. I tell my staff that they can borrow an amount not more than half their monthly salary. Once the debt is paid in full by salary deduction, they can borrow again, but only after three months. This encourages them to save their money for personal expenses. You may also want to encourage them to open a savings account so they can start saving up for family emergencies.
These expert answers are collated from excerpts from Good Housekeeping Philippines.