Being an expat in Beijing definitely comes with its advantages. One of the major benefits for many is being able to afford domestic help around the home. However, communication can be a barrier at times, leading to unmet expectations (on our part). With that in mind, here are some of the best tips from Beijing expat moms:
1. Have an ‘I don’t know where this goes’ box for random items. Empty it every few days, and if the same item keeps appearing in the box, then you can show your ayi where the item belongs.
2. When your children are close together in age AND the same gender, it can be hard work for your ayi to figure out whose clothes are whose. This “dot system” changed my life. Draw one dot on the clothing label of your firstborn. The second child has two dots, and so on. Then when the item of clothing gets passed down to the next child, just add another dot.This is a huge help to your ayi who can look at the number of dots and know instantly whose item of clothing it is.
3. Put photos on toy storage boxes and also on the children’s clothing drawers, so that your ayi (and kids) can ensure that toys go into the correct box, and that trousers, shirts, and sleepwear are also put into their correct place.
4. If you don’t write Chinese, create images of the tasks you want to be accomplished that day and stick them to the fridge so your ayi has a clear idea of the tasks she needs to do.
5. Put your sheet/duvet cover sets folded up into the matching pillowcase into the linen cupboard, so that your ayi can easily find the new matching set.
6. If you have digital technology that resets whenever the power plug is pulled out, mark it with a sticker to save you having to restore all the settings.
7. When you travel for a week or six over the holidays, you will probably continue to pay your ayi her full salary so that she remains with you after you return. Leave her a list, or create a photo book of jobs for her to do while you are away so she can easily remember what you want her to do.
Share your favorite ayi life-hacks in the comments!