Finding an ayi and developing a good relationship with her is critical for maintaining an easy life in Shanghai. Here we've listed our top tips for finding and managing your ayi, check it out below.
Finding an ayi
There are a number of ways to find your ayi. Here are some of the more popular:
1: Speak to your friends and coworkers
Do they like their ayi? They might be able to recommend their trusted ayis to work for you, too.
2: Speak to your real estate agent
Your real estate agent who helped you find your apartment may be able to help you find an ayi or a trusted ayi agency.
3: Ayi agencies
Ayi agencies for both locals and foreigners should be available around your living area, if you can't find it, you can log on dianping.com for the local ayi service or some ayi services for foreigners can be found here
4: Search online
Our classifieds also offer some different options if you don't want to go through an agency.
Before She Starts
1: Call your ayi’s previous employers and ask specific questions about her work.
2: Do your homework. If you are going through an agency, ask a lot of questions and make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for.
3: Ask for a copy of your ayi’s identity card and keep it somewhere safe.
4: Ask to see health certificates and vaccination records.
5: If you have children around the home, consider investing in first aid training for ayi.
6: Make an emergency plan/list for ayi, which contains who to contact, where to go, and any listed allergies of people in the household in English and Chinese. Post it on your fridge.
7: Be careful not to leave valuables lying around your house.
8: If there’s something you’re not comfortable with, tell her. If your Chinese isn’t good enough, enlist the help of a Chinese-speaking friend.
Make sure you discuss the following with your ayi before she starts to work for you:
1: Salary, including when it will next be re-negotiated
2: Chinese New Year bonus
4: Meal times (if she's full time)
5: Work hours
6: Holiday and sick leave
7: Public holidays
8: Health checks and vaccinations
How to Manage an Ayi
Be clear about what you expect her to do at your house and lay down some rules and a plan of what she needs to do. It’s not fair to be angry with your ayi about something you haven’t first explained, because every family is different. For example, what area do you expect her to clean and what area would you rather she leave alone? When do you expect ayi to be at your home? You don't want her to come when you are still sleeping in bed. The best way to start off is with a trial period so you both know what you are getting yourselves into.
Coming from a different background, usually from a rural area, your ayi probably has a different approach to things. For example if you are at home, she may open your door without knocking and you might feel a bit uncomfortable with that; just tell her before something awkward happens. If your ayi cooks for you, you should also be aware that ayis usually buy vegetables and meat from local markets. If it doesn't suit your standards of hygiene, go to your preferred supermarket with her and make sure she knows exactly what you want her to buy in future.
If your ayi takes care of your children, you should extremely be aware of cultural differences with caring. An American mother was shocked to find her ayi was pre-chewing food to give to her baby, a common practice in some parts of China.
If your ayi is happy working for you, she will not only do a great job, but also help you with occasional errands you might need help with. So treat her nicely, it will make both of you happy. For example, if she makes a mistake, tell her nicely instead of getting angry. Occasional gifts or a Chinese New Year bonus will also make her feel appreciated.
In terms of ayi salaries, top-end, English-speaking ayis or very efficient ayis earn up to RMB30 per hour. Lower-end, Chinese-only speaking ayis earn RMB15 to RMB20 per hour. Your ayi may expect twice as much pay if she works during national public holidays, or she might expect you to pay on a regular basis every month even if sometimes you are away for one week or two. You are their regular income, so making her feel secure about their salary will also ensure you have a clean home and a long-term good relationship with your ayi.
Useful Mandarin Phrases for Ayi
Clean the floor with water, especially in the corners.
Yòng shuǐ qīng xǐ dì bǎn, tè bié shì zài jiǎo luò。
用 水 清洗 地板 , 特别 是 在 角落 。
Polish the floor with polishing wax.
qīng xǐdì bǎn hòu,yòng dì bǎnhù lǐ là cā liàng dì bǎn。
Iron my shirts and pants.
yùn tàng wǒ de chèn yī hé kù zi
熨烫 我的 衬衣 和 裤子
Clean the windows (inside and also outside).
qīng jié suǒ yǒu fáng jiān de chuāng hù ( lǐ wài dōu yào cā gān jìng)
Change and wash the bedsheets.
gēng huànwǒ dechuáng dānbìng qiěxǐ gān jìng。
Clean all the rooms, especially the kitchen room and bath room, clean the work table and microwave.
dǎ sǎo měi gè fáng jiān,tè bié shì chú fáng hé wèi shēng jiān,yī dìng yào qīng xǐ zào tái hé wēi bō lú lǐ miàn
Clean the filters of the airconditioning.
qīng xǐ kōng tiáo de guò lǜ qì
Clean the shower.
qīng xǐ xǐ zǎo jiān de| dì miàn hé bō lí mén