Last Saturday, I attended a session on building better relationships with our helpers. I think most of us really do want to have better relationships with our helpers, not only for our convenience or sanity, but also for the peace of the entire household.
I grew up with a nanny. From the time I was born, and up until now, that nanny is still serving our family in the province. One of my greatest wishes is to be able to find a nanny that’s as loyal, competent, and loving as her.
For those of you who have followed this blog since its birth, you would know that I actually found two very good helpers during the early years of our marriage. Those two were with us for a number of years already, and were one with us in looking forward to moving to a smaller, more manageable place to live in back then. Unfortunately, one of them became a single mom and had to leave to take care of her baby, and the other one got sick and passed away.
And so, the wish still remains as such. I do have helpers now that I am happy with, but I have yet to see how it goes with them.
I will be sharing with you some of the main points I learned. But before I do that, I would like to share with you some of the practices that I’ve been doing over the years– what have worked for me, at least (If I were to share all the mistakes I’ve done, this post would probably end up too long! hehe).
Be on the same page with them.
Notice I didn’t just say “get them on the same page with you”. I wish it were as easy as just laying down all the rules and handing them your policies and all, but it isn’t. I used to get so frustrated at why our helpers never seemed to be able to follow through with my instructions. But after asking about their backgrounds, I realized that most of the time, it wasn’t really about them wanting to disobey as it was about them just having a different orientation, and them growing up with a totally different value system.
One simple example I could think of is when they would always keep the left-overs out of the refrigerator for a long time, even if I’ve told them so many times about “how bacteria multiplies at blah blah temperature and therefore blah blah blah…” I was getting frustrated at why they never seemed to get it until I asked them about this. I then found out that it was really because one, most of them do NOT have refrigerators at home, and two, most of them have not had to deal with leftovers. A lot of times, they would have nothing left.
Being on the same page with them entails the following:
1. We learn their background.
- This includes family background, values, educational background, aspirations, etc.
2. We share our values.
- This, however, is not a one-time “I get it now” thing. We would have to share this over and over again.
- Before we tell them the tasks we want them to do, we make it a point to emphasize what we value in our family, and how those tasks lead to creating an environment at home for those values to be achieved.
3. We set expectations.
- We set expectations, both theirs and ours.
- Lay down the basic structure and routines we have at home.
- We set the rules we expect them to follow.
4. We set priorities.
- If we can get overwhelmed with all that we have to accomplish, imagine how it is for them…
- We set priorities not only in terms of tasks to be achieved, but here we also clarify whose priority each task/area is.
5. We give feedback.
- They have to know how they are progressing. Now in all honesty, this is where I am weak. I am very proactive when it comes to the first four things. In fact, I think sometimes when I repeat WHY I ask them to do something or explain WHY I want things done a certain way, they might think I sound like a broken record already (but I don’t mind). Okay, back to this weakness of mine. Since I admit I do not like confrontation, we have opted to have regular “staff meetings” at home, wherein we discuss the things that they are doing well, AND the things that need improvement. So far, this has given me an avenue to confront them without them having to feel defensive (well, at least I wish they really do feel that they don’t have to get defensive).
Now on to Coach Pia’s session. Here’s my MAIN take home:
GIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK.
Giving feedback is not enough. Giving effective feedback is what counts.
And here are the main action points for me. Here are some keys to giving effective feedback:
1. Communicate clearly.
- For me, this applies to my tone and facial expression. If something is really important to me, I cannot make it sound like a request. Our helpers need to be able to tell the difference between what is just something that is nice to have at home (want), versus what we really think is essential for our home (need).
- HOW we say things can make all the difference.
2. Clarify expectations.
- It is best to do this one-on-one, in private.
- Again, communicating clearly comes in here.
3. Work towards competence.
- Since it is almost always a given that they come from different background with different habits and different values, we cannot expect them to get it right away.
- Always DIRECT first…then SUPPORT…then DELEGATE.
There you have it!
What about you, what are your best practices with your helpers?
Before I end this post, let me share with you some bits of information about our sponsors who made this learning session possible, as our way of saying thank you.
Marca Pina! Honestly, I tried buying other local brands of “Queso de Bola” before, but I ended up disappointed. Since then, I always got Marca Pina each time. Did you know that these are imported from Holland? And you can always be assured that you are buying a fresh batch since they are sold out every year!
Tonkita cleaning products by Arix Philippines…
Tonkita is a complete range of tools and accessories for cleaning and taking care of all domestic spaces, designed for ease of use. Their materials are 100% recyclable. I was actually surprised that the prices are really reasonable, considering the quality and durability. To know more about their products, check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ArixPhilippines.
You have to try their Black Pancit and Crack Pie! The Black Pancit is actually sotanghon soaked in squid ink, then mixed with crushed chicharon…the kamias you see there isn’t just for garnish, it really goes well with the pancit and…..just try it. Check out their Facebook page (and order from them!) .
….I realized I was so engrossed in the discussion I wasn’t able to take a single photo of Coach Pia or of the group once we started!
One of the things I have to be deliberate about in the area of my health is drinking enough water (…and starting to exercise…and eating less sweets…and eating less, for that matter….and getting enough sleep….and….oh my….I seriously need to start taking care of my health!)
Sorry, I got carried away and got lost there.
Back to the topic of drinking enough water, I have been trying to get myself to remember to drink more water. When I was younger, I trained myself to drink less so I could eat more. I thought that filling myself with too much fluids would be a waste of space in my tummy. I am actually ashamed to admit that fact, but yes, that’s the reason why I never got used to drinking enough water.
A friend of mine suggested that I find a good water bottle that is nice enough that I would want to carry around every time, and would hopefully remind me to drink, drink, drink. For two years now, I’ve tried to find a nice one in terms of design and function, but it was only this month that I finally found one that I really like!
The Snapware Eco Grip Glass Bottle!
This Snapware Eco Grip bottle is from the same company as Corelle, Visions, Pyrex, and Corningware (all brands that I love!). This means that we can be assured about the quality of the materials used for this bottle.
Here are the main points that I like (I’m dedicating a post for this because I really like this!):
What about you? Are there other products you’ve discovered and really liked?
Posted by Thammie Sy on Dec 4, 2013 in Child Development, Child Training, Daughter Dialogues, Discipline, Events, Everyday Life, Family, Homemaking, Homeschooling, Mika Dialogues, Mothers, Parenting, Random Inspirations | 0 comments
What I love about homeschooling is that I can take my kids with me anywhere I go, anytime I want to. Whenever I need to go somewhere for work and I am allowed to bring one child with me, I can always do so, and the kids actually consider it a date and a special moment with me.
I didn’t realize how big of an impact these “take your kid to work” pseudo-dates made until recently, when I took Mika with me to an event by Electrolux. I went there to support of our friend Janice Villanueva, founder of Mommy Mundo, and one of the digital brand ambassadors of Electrolux.
The event was all about celebrating our passions. They named the campaign “Wear Your Passion,” with the premise that a woman’s wardrobe actually reflects her many passions and roles in life. (Side note: At the time of the launch of this campaign, Electrolux was already busy receiving, washing, and distributing clean clothes to the survivors of the earthquake in Bohol and the more recent Typhoon Yolanda.)
I didn’t really explain all this to Mika. She was actually just there, taking photos (and eating a lot of marble potatoes!). I don’t even remember mentioning the title of the campaign to her, nor do I remember even telling her about Electrolux.
Up to this day, however, each time– and I say this with no exaggeration– each time we see a billboard, a print ad, or an appliance with “Electrolux” written on it, Mika’s face starts to beam, and she always says with excitement “Look, mom! OUR event! It’s Electrolux Wear Your Passion! It’s our event! It’s our event!”
Here are some of the photos that Mika took (some were really blurred, because her hands were sticky and she touched the camera lens!)….and here’s Mika eating her potatoes.
“OUR event” – I really like the sound of this. It reminds me that what can seem so ordinary for us can actually be so special for our kids. It reminds me that the small things we do to involve our kids really do leave an imprint in their hearts. It reminds me that the what or where doesn’t really matter to our kids as much as the who they do things with.
“Look, mom! It’s OUR event!”
….May it be, mom-friends, that our children will always be able to say this about the activities we do.
Posted by Thammie Sy on Dec 3, 2013 in Child Training, Discipline, Everyday Life, Family, Fathers, Homeschooling, Marriage, Mothers, Parenting, Random Inspirations, Relationships | 3 comments
I’ve had a number of friends and relatives who ask me why I sometimes don’t answer my phone, or why it takes so long before I reply.
During the early years of our marriage, it was simply because we had a very poor signal where we lived so I always had to leave my phone in one spot of the house.
Then the babies came and I had to keep my phone on silent mode most of the time. I know there are a lot who say it’s better to get the babies used to the normal “noise” around the house, but for the sake of my sanity, I never wanted to risk it. I also wanted to be able to sleep more, undisturbed.
Since then, it had become a bad habit of mine– always ignoring my phone. It was actually as if I had no phone. I just wasn’t used to having one. Taking calls and reading messages wasn’t in my system.
Ooohh….then came the age of wifi (this era came late in our household). Add the more high-tech phones in the mix….and I suddenly found myself getting used to the idea of having a mobile phone once again– always accessible– anytime, anywhere.
It was then that I decided to discipline myself and make myself more available to people. I tried my best to reply to emails and text messages as soon as possible.
I tried, and for a season, I became better at it. My phone was with me most of the time, and the signal was already pretty good. The babies have grown and so sleep wasn’t a problem anymore. For that season, my relatives and friends were actually quite pleased that I was more accessible and they had a reply as soon as they wanted one.
But that season didn’t last very long….and not by accident.
It was actually I choice I had to make. It was a choice to make my family’s call more important than those of other people. It was a choice to make my children’s questions more important than my friends’ questions. It was a choice to make eye contact with my children more important than contacting someone else and keeping my eyes glues on the phone’s screen.
It was a choice, and it is still the choice I make on a daily basis.Some people may not like it (and perhaps a lot even find it irritating, to keep hearing the phone ring and not have someone pick it up from the other end). I know I find it irritating, too, especially if I think what I had to ask or say is urgent. I know I will not get to explain my reasons to everyone, either, and so I will have to risk them seeing me as unreliable in this area.
But honestly, it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter, because I have already made a choice as to what really matters.
My family’s call is more important than the call of work, the call of ministry, the call of friends, the call of the outside world.
For about a year now, I have made it a point that my children will only see me use the laptop during set “breaks”. This means that I would have to do whatever it is I have to do with the help of my computer before they wake up, during a set break within the day, or when they are finally asleep. In terms of phone use, I have to keep it away from me during homeschool hours, and I only get to check it when I’m feeding Isaiah, or during mealtime breaks (when I’m done and they’re still eating), or at night.
There are days when I don’t get to follow this guideline I’ve set of course, but for the most part, this is how we do it.
And it would probably stay this way for the next several years.
Until then, “The subscriber cannot be reached. Please try again later.”
Posted by Thammie Sy on Dec 2, 2013 in Faith, Family, Fathers, Finances, Homemaking, Homeschooling, Marriage, Mentoring Women, Mothers, Personal Faith Journey, Random Inspirations | 0 comments
For the past several months, our family has been praying for a printer with a scanner.
When our last printer finally conked out after we moved houses, Dennis bought a new one, but without a scanner. I was thankful, of course, and it has served us well, but being a homeschooling family, a printer that doubled as a scanner would be very useful, especially since I have two students, and a lot of the books that I want to use for both of them are colored.
If I had all the budget in the world, the ideal way is to get two copies of all the books I use– one for each of them. But I’m just being realistic, and the sustainable thing for me has been to just get one copy, then demand that they use pencils in answering their books. This way, I can erase their answers before the start of the next school year, and the younger child can re-use the books.
This was a perfect plan, until I realized that my second daughter is pretty madiskarte. I was so impressed by how quickly she understood all the language lessons and how quickly she was able to answer all the math problems…. until one day, when she finally told me her “technique”. Apparently, there was an “invisible answer” that she just had to trace– and she got the right answers, without even having to think!
There goes my perfect tipid plan.
So yeah, this is why we have been praying for a printer with a scanner. Now when I say that we have been praying for it, I don’t mean to say that we’ve been seriously praying for it. I mean, if we didn’t get one, we’re still happy. Our homeschooling life still goes on (though getting one would be really nice). But it was one of those “Oh, Lord, it would really be nice if you gave us the budget for a printer with a scanner. Please– can we have one?” kinds of prayers— very simple and casual, yet still, filled with faith.
In fact, because we had no budget for another printer, and because we were in faith that God would provide us with one, we began to pray another prayer: ”Lord, if you want us to give away this new printer we have, just let us know who you want us to give this to.” By doing this, we wanted to exercise our faith, at the same time teach the kids that whenever we are in need, we should choose to sow a seed (I love how this rhymes!).
We know that there would always be a need– major needs, as well as trivial ones. Even in this small matter as believing God for a printer with a scanner, we wanted to teach the kids to wait on the Lord with the right heart and right mindset.
I am sharing all this because a few weeks ago, God actually surprised us with a brand new HP printer…. WITH A SCANNER.
I attended one of the BetterMe sessions that the Mommy Mundo SoMoms had over brunch at Cafe 1771 (good food, by the way, as always!). Coach Pia Acevedo of the OneCore group gave a talk on building our children’s self-esteem, and the “culminating” activity to apply what we learned was to make some sort of a scrapbook page of our take-home lesson from the session (the pictures and the scrapbook pages were all printed from HP printers of course!).
Honestly speaking, I am aware that being the safe, conscientious person that I am, my output was not as artistic as I wanted it to be. I am not good with time-pressured activities! We were given 15 minutes to finish the entire task, and on a normal day, it would already take me that much time just to choose pictures and prints!
Why am I being so critical of my work? Because I want to tell you that I believe with all my heart it was really just God who made it possible for me to win in that activity, and to be able to bring home the prize— yes, the much-desired HP printer with scanner (emphasis on the scanner again! hehe).
Allow me to share my work here, anyway, will you?
Incidentally, the picture they chose to print out among the choices I gave them was the first picture that Isaiah had with the girls upon his homecoming from the hospital. Using this as inspiration, I chose to make the theme of my scrapbook page “I Am Home”. Here’s what I wrote, in relation to building our children’s self-esteem:
“Home is where I am loved.
Home is where I am accepted.
Home is where I am forgiven.
Home is where I am significant.
Home is were I am secure.
I am home.”
That yellow thing on the upper right hand corner was my attempt to make a house origami, by the way. Hehe
I really do believe that the most essential aspect of building up our children is to provide them with a home where they know they are loved, accepted, forgiven, significant, and secure. The key factor of building them up is the home.
Okay, back to my printer WITH SCANNER story. I just wanted to encourage you with this these thoughts:
1. Our Heavenly Father knows what you need….and what you want.
2. He can give you what you need…..and even what you want!
3. God is not moved by our need. He is moved by our faith.
4. Even if it seems trivial, ask God anyway. He is concerned with every detail of our lives!
5. When in need, sow a seed.
…On good soil.
…Then wait and see how God would cause it to grow!
If you wish to know more about HP and their line of products and printers, head over to their Facebook page or visit their website.