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Oreoluwa’s Maid For Me: 5 Things Your Maid Won’t Tell You But Wishes You Knew

Oreoluwa Sonola

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If you have said or heard this phrase “After all I did/have done for her, she still left”, or “All these maids don’t like when you are good to them, they like people who are strict”, you are about to discover why it is so.

One of the not-so-rosy sides to hiring a new maid is the uncertainty and anticipation that accompanies the decision. How will my new maid behave? How soon is too soon to lay down rules? Do I treat her like my sister? Should I send her to school? Do I wait for her to do something bad before I become firm? Where should I draw boundaries? Will correction or punishment make me look wicked? and so on.

Also, because of the quality of maids being outsourced by agencies, there lies the burden of communication. We do all the talking and our maids do all the listening and nodding in agreement. In many homes, there is hardly a two-way conversation where maids can contribute or put forward a suggestion. The result of this is that employers end up doing things they feel is right and their responsibility, but in reality, brings discomfort to their maids.

Below, I throw some light on five things your maid wished you knew, but wouldn’t tell you. And just like you may have experienced, the only way she feels she can get out of that situation is to rebel or leave.

She wants a structure and routine
She knows she would be more efficient and a better planner if she had a routine or knew way ahead what needs to be done. She knows that with better planning, you didn’t have to send her to the market three times last week. She doesn’t want to wake up every day anticipating the new thing you will ask her to do. “Go to the shop”, “go and help my friend”, “go to grandma’s house and help them for the weekend” while her regular chores still await her. She doesn’t want to be told on her day off that she can’t go because something came up. As her employer, you have the mentality that she is there to do EVERYTHING you ask her to. But in reality, she was made to understand that her primary duty was house chores. So except you clearly stated it before hiring, tone down the spontaneity.

She may not be ready to go to school
She didn’t come prepared to handle the pressure and competition that a school environment brings. She knows she doesn’t have the capacity to cope with school demands and all the things she is still expected to do in your home. She just wants to learn a little English, which she feels if she stays in your home long enough, she should be able to speak. She wishes you wouldn’t force it, but ask her what she wants to do. She wants to save enough money to open a shop for her mom and learn a marketable skill. You want to send her to school out of the goodness of your heart, but she is not just ready. If you insist on it, you are slowing down her already laid out plan and she may decide to leave.

She doesn’t want to be treated like your daughter immediately
Seems strange right? But those shoes are too big to fill outrightly. The pressure to be a “city girl” overnight is overwhelming. The expensive clothes and bright shoes that you try to use to give her a make-over are a little too much for her, so she runs away. It is not her fault. Where she is coming from, nobody gave her anything for free. There always had to be a catch. So when you start to introduce her as your daughter and a relation to your biological daughters, she is wondering what you would demand in return. Her freedom? Her background? Do you want her to forget where she is coming from and now be a city girl?
For now, she only wants to be treated respectfully as a human being and employee. She didn’t come to be “tushed” up. She came to work. Give her room to grow into that lifestyle gradually.

She wants to be seen as a value provider, not a project
She is used to hearing “After all I have done for you” and wondering when you will start to talk about all she has done for you. Will you have been able to attend to all the things you attend to if she wasn’t holding down the needs at home? You didn’t rescue her for the village inasmuch as you believe you did. You needed someone to help, she could provide that service, so you hired her. In reality, you both need each other.

Your being principled and firm doesn’t scare her
She has a leadership vacuum and is in search of someone who she can look up to, who will hold her accountable and call her out when she is wrong. I have heard people say that maids respect the employer who treats them badly over one who is nice to them and gives them a pass when they commit an offense. While being wicked is wrong, your maid understands discipline and knows the aftermath of being disciplined is growth. Don’t be scared to draw clear boundaries, give constructive corrections and give punishments when warranted. She doesn’t see you as wicked, she sees you as principled.

Now that you know these things, I hope it helps you take steps to improve your relationship with your maid.

Now tell me, if your maid had the courage to tell you these things, what would your reaction be?

Photo Credit: © Andrey Popov | Dreamstime

Oreoluwa Sonola is a Household Manager. She ensures the systems in homes run smoothly with little or no supervision from the homeowners. She creates management and training resources, procedural manuals, work schedules and SOPs for Domestic staff within the home and chore schedules for kids where the domestic staff is absent. Some of her resources can be found on her website www.maidformee.com  and Instagram and twitter @maidformee.

26 Comments

  1. Jessica Jackson

    November 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Bella Naija. Good Afternoon Ma’am. I was asked by Ma Uche Pedro to reach out to you. She asked me to reach out to team Bella naija and then I’ll get a call from You Ma to get authentic info as regards my request to her. I already sent screen shots of conversations between myself and Ma Pedro Uche on IG earlier today. Please Please do well to respond Ma’am. Please.

    • www.thelmathinks.com

      November 21, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      Hello, have you tried sending an email ?

  2. Akara Pancake

    November 21, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    You forgot: She is not here for your husband or son’s sexual pleasure

    • john

      November 21, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Sounds close to home ~ deleke

    • Iris

      November 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm

      I would argue that to some degree, that one should be more directed to your husband or son.

  3. Asa

    November 21, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Ok… this makes some sense o. But… if you are not ready for school, you have no space in my house o, particularly if you are of schooling age. You may have to find somewhere else. You will be spending time with my kids, spending a few years with me, time will be passing too and you cannot come and leave the way you came winning just bread for your family. If you don’t want, don’t come.

    • Bio

      November 21, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      She said she might have time for informal training like sewing,, fine art, make up, hairdressing etc. remember not even all your biological kids will like school sometimes. please dont force her to school if she does not want to go you will not be frustrating her and it will have repercussion on your children.

      that is why some of our men always suspect that our good intentions for these maids are selfish.

  4. marlee

    November 21, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    i have been with my maid, i now call her sister since 2003, thats 14 years, she is a second mother to my children, we never argued even once in the last 14 years. i see her as a gift from God, send just for me. she makes my life worth living and she gives me joy. my children adores her. thank you Lord for her.

    • AceOfSpades

      November 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      You never argued for 14 years? That is not healthy. Maybe you talk and out of respect she doesn’t talk back but she’s visibly angry but if this doesn’t happen then something is wrong. Romeo and Juliet sef dey fight how much more madam and maid.

  5. Jessica Jackson

    November 21, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    ‘My family and I decided to approach giving back and helping others in a structured way because unfortunately we cannot help everyone but only try our very best in an organized way. That said, if you get in touch with [email protected] She’ll call you and ask a few questions to verify authenticity and see if anything can be done.’

    Ma’am, that is the DM I received from Ma Uche Pedro. Please do well Ma’am to reply.

    • ms lala

      November 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Can you stop already! Im sure they saw and received your message. Don’t spam the comment section. God will continue to guide and protect you. Just shoot her an email and wait on her response.

  6. Chiomah

    November 21, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Nice write up.. I learnt about the ” don’t force the school2 by from my first help..Nwanneka really didn’t want to go to school, but I kinda convinced her and it backfired.. Now the young lady who lives with me currently loves school and was excited when I mentioned the prospect and is almost done with University. Its good to know what exactly the person wants and walk with their expectations.

  7. Weezy

    November 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    This is incredible. You’re doing a great service here.

    It’s always bothered me that maids in Lagos are expected to work 16 hour days nonstop and with no limits on what they are expected to do. Then they are abused for not being proactive and not solving problems. When you control someone so thoroughly you cannot expect that they will be as smart and thoughtful as you are with your things.

    I think that all maids should have clear working hours and breaks for every 4 hours worked. So for example, you work 6:30 am to 10:30, then 12 – 4pm, then 5pm – 9pm. And that is it. And she should have some time to herself on the weekend.

  8. Tutu

    November 21, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    What are some ways to discipline maids?

    • Amara

      November 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      The way you discipline your kids.

    • Dr.N

      November 21, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      A few suggestions
      1. If clearly stated rules are flouted more than agreed no of times b4 punishment is given withhold privileges ( not food or sleep please),
      2. A very minute portion of salary is deducted say N1k. But this should a very last resort & I would rather fire a maid who I feel the need to give this particular punishment.

    • ITK

      November 21, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      Deducting salary ke? How much is the salary sef? Don’t you flout company rules? Does your company deduct your salary? You is wicked.

    • Oreoluwa Sonola

      Oreoluwa Sonola

      November 22, 2017 at 11:13 am

      There are various ways to discipline constructively. Deprivation of certain pleasures you may have afforded her for some period of time. (Pleasures mean things outside of your agreement like feeding, salaries etc). If the wrong that was done constituted a loss, you can decide to cut a small amount from her salary. You can punish with tasking chores, You can delay time off by a few hours etc.

  9. Californiabawlar

    November 22, 2017 at 3:18 am

    Can we please discuss sex and sexuality with regards to maids.
    While the situation with houseboys and female children is very obvious, it’s an open secret that housegirls RAPE/molest the sons in the family… I can count at least 10 guy friends whose first sexual experience was with a horny maid at ages as young as 9.
    I think this is what happens when you take in a maid with raging hormones (teen or adult), and you refuse to give them sex education or allow them date. I mean… someone just talked about have a maid for a whole 14 YEARS… biko is body firewood? Some of these peeps had very active sex lives before coming to work with you! Then you just coop them up from house to church day in day out. It just doesn’t pan out well.
    I remember catching one of our maids in a hot and heavy make out session with a neighbor who was working for his brother. Even though I was like 8 years old I had mixed feelings about the situation. I was disappointed (as a christian ??… I was a spirikoko)…. but I thought to myself: “smooching is what adults do, they are adults ??‍♀️”, so I decided not to report to my mum, especially since the guy was a respectable “uncle”. As an adult I can totally understand their situation even better… they were literally the only ones hanging around the neighborhood when everyone was either at work or the kids at school!
    On the other hand allowing helps mingle could lead to bad company and things can degenerate to safety issues.
    I’m not well equipped to speak on the matter sha, so I’ll appreciate if you can address either as a response or a stand alone post.

    • Oreoluwa

      November 22, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Thank you for highlighting this. I totally agree with you that sexual abuse goes both ways. I covered this topic in a published post on my website titled “preparing the kids for the new maid.”. under moral preparation. For the active sex lives, I advise that employers give their maids a break at least twice monthly or a monthly leave, not necessarily because of sexual activity but because it gives them a me-time to look forward to and anticipate for. And employers do not have to bother about what the maid does on her own time. The major concern however with this is that a maid can contract a disease and bring it into the home before her next medical test is due. Finding the balance between giving her freedom and the family’s safety is key. Employers can do their part by having safe sex talks with their maids not necessarily relating it to their homes but making her see how it benefits her also.

    • Ephi

      November 22, 2017 at 10:24 am

      I like the idea of giving the maids scheduled breaks, giving them something to look forward to. Afterall we all get leave days from employers so maids should also be entitled to and given time for themselves rather than being worked to the bone non-stop all year.

    • John

      November 22, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Your 100 % right and made the most sense here …most teenage boys have their first sexual experience with a maid…I am very much aware of that… but I noticed even from previous comment, there are lot of things you dont discuss with your parents? ( especially your mother)…it is like you bottle alot of things up…this is not an attack oo before u start blowing grammer on my head.

    • Mrs chidukane

      November 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      House girls molest daughters as well.

    • Loki

      November 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      @John- How was your first experience?
      This is not an attack oo before u start blowing grammar on my head.

  10. Mrs chidukane

    November 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    House girls molest daughters as well.

  11. Loki

    November 22, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Personally, I think all maids should have some education- but BEFORE they become maids. Maybe if they had some education, they could unionise and actually demand a certain quality of life from employers because being a maid in Nigeria is akin to slavery in many ways. Most maids are abused and dehumanised in an unspeakable manner. This is supposed to be a form of employment yet many of their lives have less value than the family dog (I’ve actually seen families treat Bingo better than they treat the maid).
    There should be terms, conditions, benefits and responsibilities set out which should definitely include working hours and time off. But many Nigerians will never give their maids these things without being forced into it because they see them as some sub human creature God put on the earth to serve them and their incredibly spoiled offspring.
    It’s a bit idealistic though. That I know. I’m just thinking aloud about some Hogwarts type Maid Academy.

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