Vivien Ho, 52, is a marketing communications professional in the education sector. She is also a mother of a daughter and son – Victoria, 19, and Calvin, 16.
Vivien hired her first helper 19 years ago, after the birth of her eldest child. As a full-time worker, she found that it was very difficult to manage work and children at the same time, especially as a new mother. To have a helper was necessary for her to cope with her family’s needs, as well as work.
The New Mom Experience
After taking two to three months of maternity leave, Vivien found that the most difficult experience in returning back to the workforce was having to be separated from her children during the day.
“I think as a new mom, the difficult part after you deliver a child and get back into the workforce is trying to find balance, because it’s a very new experience. When you have a child, you find that at work, you want to go back home and spend more time with them,” Vivien said.
Before having children, Vivien never had a problem working overtime in the office when she had to meet strict deadlines.
After giving birth, she realised how much harder it would be to continue her previous style of working as she had to be home to attend to her children.
Vivien admitted that she was worried that the love of her children might split between her and the helper at first. She however decided to overlook that worry believing that a helper would give her the assurance that her children were being well looked after.
After seeing the bond her children formed with her current helper of 13 years, Adela, she received affirmation of the great care that helpers can provide.
Adela said: “I came to Singapore to work as a domestic helper in 1991 and have been here ever since. I used to work as a secretary in the Philippines, but the salary was low and did not meet my needs.
“I have not faced any issues with my current employer and feel very blessed to be able to work with them. They have included me as part of the family and have brought me on multiple holidays to Hong Kong, Australia, Bintan, and more.”
Although Adela does miss her family in the Philippines, she does not regret coming to work in Singapore as she has created strong bonds with Vivien’s family.
With all of her six siblings living in different countries, Adela and her family often engage in weekly calls to keep in touch. She also mentions that being single makes it easier for her to remain in Singapore, and that the bond between her and Vivien’s family provide her a sense of fulfilment.
With Adela by her side, Vivien now had someone who was able to cook, clean and care for her family. This allowed her to manage her time more efficiently with less things to worry about, and also enabled her to learn to multitask between work and family.
Although she does occasionally log on after hours to meet certain deadlines, overall, she has now been able to pace herself better at work.
“I think that my helper really does help to balance my work and life because after a full day at work, when I come home, I’m not worried about house chores, and I can spend more time with my children. Because by the time I get home after work, I only have a couple of hours to spend with my children before they have to go to bed, especially when they were younger and had to sleep earlier,” said Vivien.
Domestic Helpers to the Rescue
With the extra pair of hands, Vivien was also able to fulfil the needs of her children more efficiently as they got older.
When Victoria was 11, she started going for enrichment classes in the evening. Vivien sent and picked up her daughter to and from these tuition classes, while Adela stayed home and took care of the younger child.
Even while working from home during the outbreak of the pandemic, Vivien was able to concentrate on her work during the day. Knowing that Adela could take care of the house, distractions were minimised.
By keeping the house tidy, Adela created a more productive space for Vivien to focus on her work.
“Sometimes when I see her very occupied, I try to help her relax and ask if she would like a snack or coffee as she is engaged for many hours with no break. I also make sure to cook her meals on time as I know that she frequently has work calls and needs to make the most of her time. I am happy to help her in any way I can,” said Adela.
Besides managing her work life, Vivien said that having Adela around helps with her social life. She gets to spend time with her family on Sundays when Adela takes the day off and enjoy her Saturdays going out with friends.
“Having her as part of the household for 13 years speaks volumes in terms of how important she plays a part in my family. I treasure our bond and look forward to more great memories together,” said Vivien.