Olivia of Cuisine Mei Wenti answers this difficult question for those who are the sole source of income for their ayi.
As I’m writing this, I’m also right in the middle of organizing my departure for summer vacation. I have been looking forward to spending this vacation more than other because I haven’t been back to France for a year now. A year is a long time for me, but also for my beloved ones who haven’t seen my 18 months old daughter growing up. Their last memory with her was when she was trying carrot puree for the first time!
During my summers, what I enjoy above all is going to local farmers markets. I love to smell and touch all the fresh and amazing fruits and veggies. I always fill my basket, ready to make amazing summer salads! Summer vacation is also an occasion for me to relax after a very tense year launching the online version of Cuisine Mei Wenti. But the stress was worth the project! This week I received a testimonial from a family and an ayi that really pleased me. Receiving testimonials lets me know I’m a great help for families and also give Ayis useful skills for their future is the best gift I could receive before summer holidays. But like expatriation, I have to be prepared to go and come back from vacation. I organize myself. It’s not the most pleasant task to do but I truly encourage you to do so.
Before leaving for vacation, some people like to shop at many different kinds of market to bring back souvenirs, other like to put the house in order. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll have to work until the day before I depart this year!
I prepare both my departure and when I will arrive back. I have found that I enjoy my break much more when I am not worried about arrival, and coming back is also much easier. I also organize my Ayi’s work while away.
First ask myself “Do I need her to work the entire time I’m gone?” This summer, it won’t be necessary, and I feel my Ayi also really needs a break. Taking care of an 18-months old baby can be very tiring, and she also needs to see her own kids. Nevertheless, before she heads to vacation and while my husband is still working, I assigned to her some tasks she usually doesn’t have the time to do.
Here are some of her tasks:
• Clean the dust from the pantry.
• Defreeze and clean the freezer.
• Wipe out the different closets with a washcloth.
• Wash my daughther’s toys.
• Wash winter clothes and store them.
Some families like their Ayi to attend first aid training, English classes, or cooking classes during the summer. According to my experience, cooking classes are not really a good idea. Although she might enjoy the class, if you are away your ayi will not have a chance to practice. Who will give her feedback ? I doubt the training will be one hundred percent effective.
If your partner is still at home for a week or two and you don’t want him to have pizza every night, why don’t you write a meal planner before leaving? Your ayi may be a great cook, but what she probably fears most of all, like most of helpers, is not having meal ideas. Having new ideas and organizing a balanced menu every day may be stressful, especially if you are not at home to guide her. I would suggest youtake time to write a small cooking program with a few menus for each week. To make it simple choose a bilingual cookbook, like Cuisine Mei Wenti. Write down the numbers of the pages of your favorite recipes on your menu planner sheet. This will remove a thorn from her heel and will occupy her. Your husband will also not have to order pizzas every night! Are you ready for summer? What do you have left to do? Do you have any questions for me? Comment below. I wish you a wonderful summer!
Olivia is from South of France and is a food lover with an eye for nutrition. When she arrived in China she felt the need to iron out everyday kitchen problems so decided to teach her wonderful Ayi about balanced meals by introducing her to Western food culture. “Cuisine mei wenti” Academy was born out of this need. Later in 2014, as she became a busy mum, she realized how cooking varied food for her little girl was important. This is how she came up with Babyfood Program.
Follow her on wechat: guinebaultolivia, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up for her newsletter on www.cuisinemeiwenti.com/blog, where this article originally appeared. Also take note, her online classes start in September!
Photos: Courtesy of Olivia Guinebault