It’s doubtful any of us will forget a picture from 2011, which shows an NS man having his maid carry his field pack for him. While that’s an extreme example though, it’s sometimes hard to tell if our maids are dependent on us, or we’re the ones dependent on them. Here are some ways our maids may actually be pulling our strings:
1. Maids influence when we leave work
Who controls when you leave the office? Is it your manager? Your director sitting the room across from your cubicle? Probably they both do, but here’s one extra controller many Singaporeans have: their maid. If you don’t have two children or elderly parents to look after, you may not understand this.
But for many Singaporeans, their maid is an essential care service. If for some reason the maid isn’t available (e.g. they are going home for a few weeks), our entire work schedule suddenly turns upside down. Someone has to look after the children / elderly parents, so gone is the chance to work till 10 pm. It’s time for us to rush home before 6.30pm, to make sure dinner is done, homework is finished, clothes are laundered, and so forth.
For some of us, maids even determine whether we work on weekends. Staying at the office till 5 pm on a Saturday is all well and good when you’re single; but when you have children who are yelling to go out, you can forget about it (unless you have a maid at home to handle it). It’s all too bad of course.
While having a maid is helpful, we lose out on a lot of family bonding time. It’s not healthy to become the sort of household where the maid practically raises the children.
2. Maids influence what we wear
Some of us are so dependent on our maids for laundry, they sometimes dictate our outfits to us. If you work in Singapore long enough, there will come a time when someone comes to a meeting dressed in striped pants, or a horrific leopard print top. Ask why, and the answer will be a sad “this was all the maid managed to get dry”, or “my maid went back to Indonesia for a week, the clothes I like aren’t washed”. Yes, we’re aware you can dictate to the maid what to wash first.
But it doesn’t change the fact that, if she gets it mixed up (or just doesn’t listen), you just have to wear whatever she does provide.
3. Maids influence our opinions of others
For many families who live in condos, their opinion of certain security guards, neighbors, cleaners, etc. are hugely determined by their maids. If a maid mentions that security guard X gives a dirty look when he sees our dog, or that a neighbor is overheard complaining about us in the lift, the gossip sticks.
Suddenly, said security guard is getting dirty looks from us, and the neighbor no longer gets kueh on Chinese New Year. In some cases, the maids may even influence our opinion of school teachers. All it takes is for the maid to mention: “one of the teachers always says mean things and your daughter cries,” and we’re hammering out an angry email to the principal.
Those with a more cordial relationship with their maid can learn amazing things about the condo staff – from which cleaner is struggling to pay for her son’s operation, to which security guard is always sleeping in the gym!
4. Maids influence how rugged our children become
Yes, yes, we’re partly referring to maids carrying soldier’s field packs, but it goes further than that. In some families, the children have every aspect of their lives looked after by maids; and not always of their own volition. Some maids have a lot of initiative (which is a credit to them).
They’ll volunteer to go all the way to the preschool and pick up the children in a cab, rather than letting the children take the school bus. Some help the children to pack school bags, iron out their Scouts / NPCC / NCC uniforms and even help them buy food from the nearby coffee shop. In the end, all of this affects how rugged and independent our children become.
If it persists, we’ll end up with 15-year-olds who can’t make their own beds, and who can’t fold clothes or iron them. That’s why sometimes, the maids who supervise our children (rather than just do things for them) are the best hires.
5. Maids are a big influence on whether we have pets
We’re not talking about whether the maid likes dogs and cats and so forth. Rather, we meant that – for some Singaporeans – it’s practically impossible to have a pet without a maid. Our maids are the ones who feed and give the pet’s attention while we work our crazy Singaporean schedules.
They’re the ones who walk the dog every afternoon, make sure the cat doesn’t reduce our books to scratching posts, and help to clean out all the fur, fleas, and pet-related messiness.
It’s hard to explain how much some pet lovers are dependent on their maids; just wait till you’ve seen a domestic helper painstakingly remove white fur from a jacket, strand by strand. Or struggle to get a giant malamute into a bathtub, while the owner is working in Hong Kong that weekend.
We’re more dependent on our domestic helpers than we like to pretend
Let’s face it, our lives would be a heck of a lot harder if it wasn’t for our domestic helpers. It’s important to look after them, as in some ways we’re more dependent on them than they are on us (remember, a good maid can go work for someone else).
To help provide the best care for them, try going beyond basic mandatory insurance. Hong Leong Assurance Singapore, for example, provides maid insurance online that includes medical and dental consultation (the first of its kind in Singapore).
Along with that, you get to save up to 50 percent on your maid’s bi-annual medical check-up. Hurry, compare our promotions now.
By Ryan Ong
Disclaimer: All info contained herein is intended for your general information only and is not a substitute for insurance advice. If you have a specific question, please consult our insurance experts at 6702 0202.