In line with my continuing study of how to attract and retain the best yayas, I wanted to know how my peers chose their children’s caretakers. Thirty-two respondents (names disguised) shared their tips and experiences.
I learned that the quickest option is to get from an agency. “The starting rate is P4,000/month if you’re getting from the agency, but I don’t recommend it,” said entrepreneur and mom of two Mia. “If you’re getting from the province, you can start the yaya at P3,000 and give her increases based on her performance. Oh yes, running a household staff is like running your company, too!”
I have horror stories about agency yayas, so going to an agency will probably be my last resort. Some are made to claim they have experience, even if they have none.
But for some, like working mom of two Eloisa, getting a yaya from the same agency as her friends somehow helped lower the anxiety. “I went through a lot of resumes and did three face-to-face interviews,” she said. “My yaya was not the smartest or the most efficient, but I love her because she loves my baby.”
The safer option seems to be by referral. “Look for someone whose family background you know or someone connected to you or your family,” said Liza, a recruitment professional and mom of two. “Both of my yayas are from Iloilo, where I’m from. We know their family.”
Usually, employers advance the expenses for the yayas’ trip to Manila. However, some use it as stepping stone to other job opportunities, so it’s a common practice to have them pay for their way if they leave their employment within six months to a year. Liza shouldered her yaya’s airfare to Manila, “With the agreement that she will repay me if she fails to stay within a year.”
While having someone vouch for an applicant or hiring a distant relative can help you avoid getting bad yayas, still, there are no guarantees. Liza agreed: “One yaya we got seemed good at first. She was the daughter of my yaya, a high-school graduate, very efficient, and my kids were comfortable with her. Unfortunately, magnanakaw pala. Another was a distant relative, college undergrad, nice to the kids, pero nagkakalat pala ng tsismis sa neighborhood!”
Experience and training
During the interview, IT executive and mom of two Sophie insists on knowing the yaya’s track record in handling babies. “Some will claim they know, but when you start asking them about a typical day, letting them explain and describe exactly how things are done, you will see the truth.”
In Liza’s case, both her yayas had no experience in childcare. “So, at least three weeks before I returned to work, I started training them, I showed them how things are done, then I watch them do it, like feeding, bathing, playtime. You would know if they’re being good to your child by the way the child behaves around them. Pag hindi ka pinapansin at gusto si yaya, it should be a good sign (again, depending on the stage). I don’t mind that my four-year-old says ‘meror’ (mirror) or ‘melk’ (milk).”
So, Liza stressed: “Invest in training. Moms are good at this. My mom is very straightforward: She would set the rules, expectations, give guidance on how they should manage their tasks, may on-the-job training. She points it out ’pag may hindi tama—the first time and every time. But I also set rules—bawal makipag-tsismisan, kids first before the chores, ang attention sa kids at hindi sa TV or sa cellphone.”
The leaner your household staff, the better. Marissa, an advertising executive and mom of two, advised: “Don’t have a lot of helpers at home; madaming HR issues.”
Working mom of two Dina added: “Treat them like real employees; get their emergency contact numbers. Write down your standard briefing procedure in case you have new maids you need to retrain. Some abuse a friendship, so stay professional.”
Marketing officer and mom of one Rochelle agreed. “Don’t be too chummy-chummy with her, keep your relationship professional.”
Age is a factor
There are always pros and cons in deciding to get a younger or older nanny. Younger ones may be more energetic and trainable, but they can also be flighty, risky and irresponsible.
Older ones can be more experienced if that is what you require, and they are generally more focused on the job since they are usually breadwinners, but they usually are set in their ways, come with expensive medical maladies, have to go home more often, and can have a hard time chasing after your child or keeping up with a newborn’s erratic sleeping schedule.
Said Liza, “I don’t have a specific take on age bracket or profile, because there will always be pros and cons. We’d always prefer those who haven’t been to Manila—bagong salta, para hindi maligalig, and she should at least be a high school graduate. If you have the time and patience to train, it’s okay to get someone with no prior experience, but who is mature. Minsan kasi ang mga senior, matitigas na ang ulo at mas marunong pa sa iyo.”
I could relate to that. My son’s outgoing yaya is 45 years old, and she ignores our instructions when she doesn’t want to do them. I noticed my son’s bottles weren’t being cleaned well, and she complained of headaches. So, we took her to the optometrist and got her prescription glasses, which she refuses to wear because she doesn’t want to adjust to her new specs.
She also insists on being on her cellphone all the time while carrying my son, and insists my son is safe anyway.
This became a deal-breaker for us, so since she doesn’t want to change, she said she’ll just go home to her five kids (at least that’s what she says). It’s a shame, because she seems to really love our son.
Which is why Gianna, a working mom of two, says: “My cut-off will always be my age (mid-30s); anyone older, unless really good, I do not entertain. I believe that the age difference between the yaya and kid (even the parent) will make or break the deal in kid-yaya-parent management.”
Entrepreneur and mom of four Trina shared: “I usually get yayas of any age, but I realized that the ones aged 25 and older jump from one employer to the other. They also usually ask for days off more often, as they have children of their own. I now get yayas who are 18-19 years old. I ask them to report to work two months before my date of delivery or one to two months before the predecessor leaves. That way, I can train them before they’re on their own, and they know and are used to my rules before the babies are born.”
Not crazy about having a stranger staying in?
Doctor and new mom of one Tina had a live-out yaya for only three weeks, from 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m., with days off on Sundays. “I leave my son with my mom while I’m in the clinic. At least I know my baby is in good hands and no child abuse will ever happen, too,” Tina explained. “I don’t have a yaya right now and I probably will not be getting one any time soon.
“Maybe if I become pregnant again, I’ll be forced to get one. My work as a doctor lets me be hands-on with my son. I hold clinic thrice a week, two hours each day. When I get home, I take care of him. Maybe that’s why I’m not so keen on finding a replacement.”
I learned a great deal from my friends’ yaya chronicles. My most important insight was, don’t expect your yaya to be perfect, and be patient with her.
For us yaya-dependents, remember: It’s our good fortune and their misfortune that led them to apply for yaya jobs. No one aspires to be a yaya, which means being uprooted from everything you know, living away from your family and friends, and being at the mercy of your employer.
If their minds were any quicker, they wouldn’t be working at this job. Because of their necessity and sacrifice, we get to enjoy the lifestyle we choose. A little sensitivity goes a long way.