Many of us cannot just think of living a fast-paced life without domestic help creating space for us by taking care of an array of responsibilities back at home. They make our life comfortable and easy by just unburdening many days to day tasks off our shoulder. Naturally, we depend on them a lot. But such comfort, ease of living and dependability comes with a price. No, I’m certainly not talking about the money you need to shell out to your domestic help as his or her salary. We are talking about a different kind of price that we reluctantly sacrifice, and it is nothing but privacy.
Yes, with domestic helpers living inside your premise and having access to every part of your house and living area, you are bound to feel that your privacy is under constant threat. Privacy is something you never want to sacrifice, however Big a price you need to pay for it. Privacy is something closely associated with the individual dignity of any person. But to make the balancing act between privacy and comfort arrangement, you cannot do away with the delicate adjustment of allowing a live-in domestic helper.
While you respect your maid as a professional and let her have some personal space within her routine work, sometimes you seem to give away too much of your personal space. Can there be an agreeable way to make your personal space without allowing the domestic help to interfere with it? Yes, there are effective ways to safeguard your privacy while the domestic is around. Here we are going to explain a few of them.
A sense of mutual respect and dignity
When you give respect to the privacy of others, they automatically become more sensitive towards your privacy. This should be the basic understanding upon which you can build a mutually respectful relationship with your domestic helpers.
Many people just try to force some boundaries and timings to safeguard their personal space and time. This often goes to the extent of hard-handling certain situations and even humiliation for the domestic helper. Instead of trying to force a boundary or rule, just build up mutual understanding and help the other understand the value of individual space and privacy.
Don’t show too much of your emotion
Emotional outbreaks are common at times, especially within the four walls of our living space at home. But such outbreaks give an undue exposure of our private self and relations to someone who has only a professionally engaged relation with the place. So, whether it is a heated brawl with your better half or a loving gesture for the man or woman you missed for some time, keep them in check when the domestic helper is around. Remember, the maid who might have come from a distant place can feel terribly lonely and sad after having a glimpse of your emotional expression.
Don’t show your bare back skin
We may consider that you are already aware of the multitude of ways sexual harassment can be observed. One of them is obviously the exposure of private parts or nudity to outsiders who have visited your place for professional reasons. So, when appearing before maids and domestic helpers the males should take extra care to appear sober and covered. A male family member appearing bare-chested before a maid is rude and intimidating. The worst thing is such exposure allows the domestic helper to take your presence for granted and break a few untold barriers. In the same manner, female members also should maintain certain privacy and cover certain acts. For instance, you should not breastfeed your baby when the maid is round the room.
Don’t discuss your accounts and properties in front of them
You may have an urgency to settle some financial matters with your family members or people who visited you at home. But while having such confidential and private kind of discussions always do them within the close door and make sure that the domestic helper is not around. Disclosure of your personal accounts and properties to outsiders like maids can be dangerous for security reasons besides breaching the private space.
Maintain a code of conduct for handling certain things
Do you allow your maid to keep the keys of your private lockers? Certainly not. Similarly, do you entrust your most valuable jewellery or any other precious thing with your domestic help? The answer to most such questions is irrevocably a loud ‘No’ because we always maintain a certain code of conduct when dealing with an outsider about safekeeping our personal belongings. When you clearly draw the line and do not leave any room for an exception on such matters, your domestic help will also respect and maintain it.
Never ever quarrel with your maid
The worst thing that can happen in your engaging of a domestic help is a heated quarrel with her. Such incidents leave a deep mark on your psyche and undermine your dignity in front of your domestic help. Often such scars on your professional relationship with the maid remain forever. Such situations are intimidating for privacy and peace and should be avoided at any cost.
Build a respectful attitude of your kids
Kids left with domestic helpers are often seen to have built a great affinity without maintaining a so-called distance that we grownups maintain with any outsider professional help. That’s quite normal, but you as a parent should intervene and from time to time train the kids to give respect to their caregiver as professional. This can only be done over a period of time and requires sufficient tact to make them understand the difference.
You cannot have live-in domestic helper without sacrificing your privacy and personal space to a certain extent. But when such sacrifice is imminent and unavoidable, you can still ensure privacy for greater part of your home life with the above-mentioned measures.
Edouard Muller is a French entrepreneur working in the Hive Sai Kung. He is the founder of HelperPlace – a leading platform to find the right domestic helper in Hong Kong.