At first the idea may seem strange having someone to help in the house on a daily basis but you will find that a good Ayi is invaluable to make your life here in Shanghai run smoothly. Most Ayis have little English although those who have worked in the expat community for several years have picked up many words and phrases. Combined with your newly acquired Mandarin phrases, Wechat translation, sign language and your children’s rapidly growing Mandarin vocabulary, it can make for an entertaining and happy experience.
Ayis are generally paid RMB 20-30 per hour plus a Chinese New Year bonus. Some expat families living in large villas with several children, or who work long hours, hire more than one ayi to cover the domestic work and the child care including the school run.
It is good advice to make it very clear at the outset what you require doing and how you want it done. This will involve showing the Ayi how all the appliances work, how you like your laundry done and peculiarities that all families have. It is important that you give short, clear instructions to your ayi on exactly what needs to be done in the household and how you'd like it done. It can be helpful to get instructions and schedules translated into Chinese so that both you and the ayi’s expectations are met. This will make for a good working relationship.
Many Ayis enjoy and like to cook for the family. The Community Centre Shanghai has produced a great cook book of family favourites translated into Chinese. Chinese dumplings as well as spaghetti Bolognese can both be in the Ayi’s cooking repertoire.
The best way to find a reliable ayi is through friends, neighbours or colleagues. Many Ayis will work half the day at one house and then half day at a neighbour’s house in the compound. Another good source are the notice boards at the local shops where expat’s who are coming to an end of their time here in Shanghai will help their Ayi to find a new family.