I have some dietary restrictions (such as alcohol allergy), and I don't like vinegar. Xiu Yin was able to create menu items that incorporate and maintain the health benefits of confinement cooking while accommodating my preferences. I usually try and inform her the day before if I have a specific dish in mind, then she can take out the necessary ingredients for the next day. Though her portion sizing can sometimes be a bit large, she manages the kitchen and food supply well. It is also no trouble to ask her to lessen the amount of noodles, or rice as and when I feel like it. I really enjoy her char siew, pigs trotter, soups, and the way she fries vegetables and fish.
I neither sleep train, nor have a feeding schedule for my children (I engaged Xiu Yin to take care of both of my daughters). Both of them have always enjoyed their bath times, and she makes it enjoyable for them as well. Xiu Yin is fastidious at keeping notes of when the babies need changing and feeding, so it is a good method to track their progress. In general, I feel very comfortable leaving my baby in her good hands.
In general, Xiu Yin is a very caring person. My main difficulty is my Chinese language ability, which is definitely not at a native, bilingual level. And yet, she is patient and understanding that I do try my best to communicate with her. Also, she tries her best with her basic English with my helper to guide and pass on caregiving instructions. That way, she ensure that there is a proper handover after she leaves. Additionally, she would take the initiative to work with my helper to keep the apartment, especially the baby's room, clean and tidy. She never hesitates to give me advice, and to "nag" me to rest (I admit that I tend to be a workaholic, and chase after my elder daughter who is 2 years old). I had a c-section both times, and she always helps with changing the bandages, and helping me with the binder. The only complaint (that comes from my husband) is that she tends to be loud - meaning, she laughs loudly, and is very blunt with her emotions. On the other hand, I prefer that she has an effusive personality, because it means that I can be honest with her.
Recommendation & Experience
I believe the greatest testimony that I have for Xiu Yin-jie (as I call her) is that I hired her to care for both of my daughters (in Aug-Sep 2020, and Nov2022 - Jan2023). I have enjoyed her companionship, as well as benefitted greatly from her skills. She is a sincere, honest, and caring person, which I believe to be the most important personality traits for this kind of job.
For my first daughter, it was in the middle of the pandemic, and I found Xiu Yin through a rather tangential recommendation. Barring other options at the time, I decided to take a chance and hire her for a month. I ended up extending her services for another half-month. She came a day earlier while I was still in hospital, and made sure that the baby's room was set up properly, and communicated with my mother for the marketing. When I arrived with the baby, she was there to welcome us - immediately, she set about preparing lunch for me and making sure the baby was comfortable. As a first-time mother, she gave me tips on breastfeeding, made sure I had enough supply, and really showed me the ropes of motherhood. With that assurance, it made me feel confident that I could have another child.
For my second daughter, it was a no-brainer to hire Xiu Yin again. I was familiar with her work, her cooking, and her skill set. I wanted someone familiar with my family to take care of us- it made a lot of the communication easier. Since I was expecting my child in November, I felt it was necessary to book her for at least 2 months to tide over the festive season. It ended up being a blessing because my helper contracted covid and could not return to Singapore. Therefore, Xiu Yin had to take on additional workload while I tried to cover for my uncertain helper situation. Luckily, it has all worked out.
I should note that Xiu Yin also benefitted from having a good symbiotic relationship with my mother. Xiu Yin would directly whatsapp my mother a shopping list, and she did all the marketing. Any Chinese herbs were also taken care of by my own TCM practitioner, so all she needed to do was to follow the instructions on the herbal packages. I understand that this may not be applicable for other mothers, so I just wanted to highlight this difference.
I suppose if there were any critiques of Xiu Yin, it would be (as mentioned previously) that she tends to be very expressive in her emotions. My husband is sensitive to noise in general, so he finds her loud. I only occasionally find her loud, and she tends to use her phone quite a bit. Yet, I know that, as a fellow human being, she also needs some downtime, so I don't mind it in general. If you tell her to use her phone less, she would oblige. The other "complaint" is also from my husband, which is her cooking tends to mostly be Chinese zhi char flavors. He grew up in a heavily westernized household, so he is not used to eating Chinese fare so often. On the other hand, I am very much Teochew and can eat her food all the time. While she does not do western-style often, she does do a very good black pepper pork steak, and crispy pigs trotter! Plus, she is also adventurous enough that if you give her enough heads-up, she will attempt recipes.
That said, do keep in mind that her food recommendations will depend on where you are in terms of your confinement, and your personal well-being. She is able to take these into consideration and plan a menu accordingly. Therefore, I cannot stress enough that communication is key with Xiu Yin (even with my lousy Chinese language). She will be upfront with her needs as well, such as if she needs some time to rest, especially if the newborn has given her a tough night. That said, she is flexible, and is more than happy to attend and accommodate your needs. In fact, when caring for my second daughter, she was also happy to share the burden in looking after my elder daughter when I was busy breastfeeding the younger one.
I will forever look back on my time with Xiu Yin with great fondness. I am very lucky to have met her, and benefitted from her presence and skills. Life also has come full circle for me and Xiu Yin, because after this job, she will be caring for my cousin, whose husband's colleague was the one who recommended her to me in the first place! I wish her all the best and many years of good health <3