Disclaimer: Majority of the people working in the cleaning services sector in the UAE are female, therefore, for the sake of making it easier to write this article, we will use the assumption that your maid is female and use the pronouns “she” and “her” throughout. These rules still also apply to male cleaners as well.
When you tell folks back home that you’ve hired a maid in Dubai, it’s possible your friends will have visions of you relaxing in an armchair, your feet propped up on a table, sipping tea from a Sevres cup, reading Desperate in Dubai.
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The reality is very different – you’re more likely to be running from pillar to post, working a job and managing your home, finishing your errands, fielding conversations with your little ones and supervising this stranger whose task it is to make your life easier – but who also inexplicably, makes it just a little bit more complicated.
Supervising a maid may not be something you’ve done before, or you may have had some not-so-great experiences with your previous maids. You have a checklist before you hire a maid through an agency; similarly you should have a checklist in place that tells you how to act when you’ve hired a new maid. Here are some pointers:
- Be clear about the tasks you’re expecting: Once the agency sends the maid over, outline the tasks that you expect her to do: vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, etc. It is best to give as detailed a list as possible, so that she recognizes the full scope of the job and does not start to feel that you’re piling on work later.
- Set expectations: Have a talk with her about expectations you have. For instance if you are a neat freak and need everything to be replaced in their exact places, make it very clear. If you are a stickler for punctuality, mention it. If you dislike her engaging in long personal conversations on her phone while at work, you’re perfectly well within your rights to tell her to save it for later. Be clear about the ground rules at the beginning, and you won’t have to keep finding fault as the days go by.
- Have a list that’s reasonable: Do recognize however that you’re dealing with a human being and that your maid cannot be expected to do more than her fair share. Avoid giving her extremely menial tasks. For instance, if you’ve hired someone for cleaning, then you can’t expect that person to double as a nurse for an older person.
- Fix the number of hours with the agency: Maid agencies usually charge by the hour. They also have stipulations as to the minimum number of hours that your new maid is expected to work. Be reasonable, but do not feel guilty about making her do her assigned tasks, as you’re paying for it. At the same time, don’t pile on too many extra tasks just to fill in the hours.
- Rotate tasks: As your maid cannot be expected to do everything everyday (and there’s no need for it either) designate days for different tasks. Mopping can be done on alternate days, bathrooms on every third day, and so on. If you identify and name days for different things, your maid will also find it easier to remember.
- Identify periodic tasks: Some tasks do not have to be done as often, for instance, cleaning windows, wiping blinds, polishing silver, etc. Earmark a day (on a fortnightly or monthly basis) and have her do it on that day. Lighten her load on that day – for instance she can forgo the usual laundry run and you can perhaps order takeout that day.
- Check to see if everything has been completed: Do a quick check of everything that should have been done. If you’re working and won’t be around when she comes, then communicate your concerns over the phone or leave her a note.
- Be firm, but polite: If you don’t speak up when you observe something being done wrong, she won’t know that you’re not satisfied. At the same time your resentment will build up and your attempt to be kind will only misfire later when your frustration peaks. Nobody is a mind reader, so tell her in a polite, but non-accusing terms how you want things done. Don’t be vague with your instructions either.
- Be courteous: Always remember that your maid is a human being; don’t lash out at her or scream when you’re frustrated. Also ensure that others in your family treat her with courtesy, particularly little children and older people, if they’re living with you. This is plain common sense as well; your agency will be much more inclined to help you hire maids later and your maid will be more cooperative as well.
- Don’t offer temptation: This is the most grandmotherly bit of advice you will get; but it holds good today as much as it ever did. Maid agencies vet their maids thoroughly but it is still advisable to keep your important things under lock and key. Don’t leave money and cash lying around. If you are careless with your belongings, you’ll also be more inclined to blame the easiest target – the maid – when it goes missing.
So that’s our two fils on how to deal with your maid in Dubai. What are your thoughts on this subject? Let us know in the comments below!