This Mums and Maids video has been making its rounds with critics saying that it puts unfair comparison between mothers and domestic helpers.
Screenshot of the video
The video basically has mothers and helpers answering simple questions about the children such as “What do they want to be when they grow up?” and “Who is their best friend?” The video states that 74% of the helpers had more correct answers than the mothers. Straits Times ran an article today about how TWC2 is defending the video.
While I understand the message that the video is trying to convey, I disagree with how they singled out mothers for this video and also how it imagines that by spending time with your child one day a week, it will be enough for the child to bond with you and give you all the right answers.
The bond between a parent and child is never achieved overnight or in one day. There needs to be a constant effort from parents to spend quality time with their child. Encouraging parents to spend an hour a day with their child will definitely yield better results than spending one day a week with their child. At the same time, there is absolutely no correlation between a mother giving the helper a day off and the quality of time that the mother spends with her child. Any parent could give the helper the day off but end up using the TV or iPad to babysit their children. Other parents who don’t allow the helper to have a day off could very well be spending quality time with the children while the helper does housework. Also why pick on mothers? Are fathers invisible? Are fathers not equally responsible for bonding with their children? Is TWC2 stating that when helpers have a day off, only mothers are responsible for taking care of the children? What about helpers who are engaged to look after the elderly? Are they not entitled to a day off? Should they be required to work without days off because elderly parents don’t need to spend more time with their adult children?
This video raises many questions about whether this is the right way to reach out to their target audience. Yes, it has shock value, but it does so by pitting mothers against helpers. This is such an unhealthy comparison and makes working mothers, many of whom had to make the difficult decision to go back to work and contribute financially to the family, feel like they are lousy mothers. After watching the video, I did not feel that it made me want to give my helper more days off. It just made me feel that I want to spend more quality time with Zoey. If that was TWC2’s intention, congratulations, you achieved it. However, I think if the video was meant to inspire families to give their helpers a day off, it has failed miserably.
Having said this, I do believe that all helpers should be given 1 off day a week. Our helper gets every Sunday off and also most public holidays. Nowadays she spends most Sunday mornings in English class which she enjoys. I was sad to hear that she met other helpers who went for the same class as her but were expected to go home after the class and continue working. I read from Jolovan’s Facebook note (do read this as he covers what is the fundamental issue with the video and it may surprise you) that only 40% of helpers in Singapore get a day off every week. I find this very sad. More employers need to realise that domestic helpers are not slaves. They cannot work day and night for us without a break. It is basic human right to at least get to rest once a week. No one can work every single day from morning to night without getting burnt out. So for the employers out there who have yet to give their helpers the mandatory weekly day off, please do so. It is for the health of your helper so she can continue perform at her best. Go here to pledge your commitment to giving your helper her rest day.