With the holidays just around the corner, we are providing some tips on how to navigate the holidays with our domestic helpers. Some employers may allow their helpers to go on holiday to their home countries, and some employers will need their helper to stay in Hong Kong for the holidays. Each household’s decision is specific to their personal schedule, finances, and preferences. Here are practical holiday suggestions for all employers, whether you and your helper will be celebrating the holidays in Hong Kong, or abroad.
If you and your helper will both be in Hong Kong during the holiday break, you may want to use this chance to learn about each other’s Christmas traditions. Since being away from one’s home country during such a special time of year can be emotionally challenging, your helper may be especially grateful to be remembered or included during this time.
* Your kids could interview your helper about what Christmas is like in her home country.
* Designate a cooking night where you each make a traditional holiday dish from your home country and then try each other’s favorite foods.
* Consider inviting her to attend your child’s Christmas recital, or include her in decorating the Christmas tree with your family, or allow her an extra evening or morning off from work so that she can participate in a function or service with her friends or church.
Helpwise understands that not all employers can send their helpers home for Christmas, and they also know that not all helpers prefer to go home during that time. So when a helper is staying in Hong Kong while the employers are traveling, employers often ask them for ideas of what their helper can do while they’re away.
* Before your helper leaves for her holiday, you may want to build into her schedule a day where she can make and freeze a few meals that can be easily reheated for those busy nights when she’s away.
* Consider sending along a gift for your helper’s family, to express your appreciation for her hard work.
* If you want an extra special meal one night, or you’ll be entertaining during the holidays, consider ordering a festive dinner from a hotel or catering service that can deliver to your home.
* And, if you’re in need of an extra pair of hands for cleaning or watching the little ones so that you can attend that Christmas dinner with your spouse, take a look at our Getting Help without a Helper list of resources.
When a helper is staying in Hong Kong while the employers are traveling, employers often ask us for ideas of what their helper can do while they’re away. While you’re out of town, your helper will naturally have a lot less daily work since there won’t be a household of people to cook for and clean up after.
* There’s never been a better time for your helper to attend that cooking class or first aid course you’ve been wanting her to take, or to do a deep cleaning of the house without interruption.
* Leave your helper with a wish list of tasks for her to do while you’re away – dusting ceiling lights, changing out winter/summer clothes, re-organizing the kids’ toys. You’ll be surprised how fast she can go through the list without her normal daily responsibilities.
* Depending on your comfort level and household rules, you may even consider allowing your helper to have a few friends over during her rest day. Perhaps she could have a little Christmas celebration with a few other helpers who also remained in Hong Kong. You can set some boundaries on how many people and on which days that is permissible. This way you are both comfortable with the arrangement, but giving your helper a little more downtime or leaving a Christmas gift or two for her to open while you’re away, can be gestures that can show her your appreciation and keep her motivated in her job.
* Finally, don’t forget to remind her of any preferences that you might have, such as turning off lights and locking up when she goes out, not leaving food out on the counter, bringing items in from the balcony if there’s bad weather, etc. This lessens the chances for frustrations or misunderstandings upon your return.
Regardless of how you and your helper choose to celebrate the holidays this year, we hope you’ll both have a chance to enjoy a well-deserved break!