Having frequent visitors to stay with us in our small, cosy slice of Hong Kong is made a whole lot easier having a helper working for us. She transforms Joshua’s room ready for the guests, cleans and transforms it all back again when they have left and in between she does their washing, tea-making and whatever else they may wish to ask for! It’s amazing how quickly people get used to having a helper in their lives!
So, when we returned from Disney, with my parents still due to be with us for another week, it was to an empty flat with no helper. Generous people that we are, we had agreed that our helper could take the whole Christmas period off and not return until well after my parents had left so that she could spend some quality time with her family in the Philippines. That was obviously fine whilst we were at Disney but when the 6 of us arrived back with a mountain of washing and shock horror, our own meals to make AND wash up, it was suddenly not fine!
Thank goodness for two things ….
The first is that friends in our building were on holiday and their helper was still here and available to help us out which was amazing. She came in most days to whirwind around sweeping up after us, doing some ironing and also babysitting some nights, phew! She was even here to supervise and clean up after the Ikea men who came to deliver and build Eden’s brand new bed.
The second thing is that when my parents are here, it’s like having 2 extra helpers anyway so I didn’t have to drag myself too far out of the lazy stupor into which I have easily settled into!! The kids don’t need anything from me when they’re around! (as long as their iPad is fully charged up that is!)
I shouldn’t really resent my helper being away at that time but I really did! Maybe it’s our fault for being too generous. All helpers contracts give them just one weeks holiday per year which is pretty poor. Most people send their helpers on their annual leave at a time when the family themselves go on holiday so there is no inconvenience to anyone. And most families give their helpers more than the contracted week off. But how could we say no to granting her leave at this time when her daughter and other family members were flying over from the Philippines to spend some time in Hong Kong and then she wanted to fly back with them to be with them there for a few days? We’d have looked awful if we’d said no to that, even though her Christmas Day flight cost us twice as much as it would have cost us any other time of the year!
My parents left on the evening of New Year’s Eve so luckily I wasn’t really in the mood to go out celebrating because we couldn’t get a babysitter! Had our helper been around, this wouldn’t be an issue as one of the best perks of having a helper is the no-hassle babysitting. But she was off having a good time celebrating New Years Eve with her family, which we were paying her for (!) and meanwhile we had to cancel our dinner plans with friends because we couldn’t get a babysitter. Something wasn’t right there.
If only she had come back gushing with thanks and appreciation, refreshed and raring to go for the new year. She didn’t – just a request to take time off in the summer that doesn’t exactly fit in with the time when we’re away!! Hmm…