Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If you want this choice position

Well, the day of "it's not beyond the realm of possibility that someday we could employ" a live-in housekeeper/nanny has arrived.  It crept up on us slowly and both Jeremy and I came to the realization that a nanny might be good for our family at around the same time, in the last month or two. Last November was when I wrote the above post, in which my feelings were mainly that nannies were great for other families, but not ours...yet. By the beginning of 2012, Jeremy and I sometimes talked about hiring a nanny, but it was always couched in "only ifs," like "only if she's a native Arabic speaker" (which we've come to realize is not very possible here), or "only if it's someone who we already know." So it remained very hypothetical.

During the spring semester, however, I realized that a nanny could really make our lives so much better. I know that sounds idealistic, but I think it's true, or at least potentially true. I was teaching two classes and taking two MA classes, all while trying to maintain some semblance of being a good wife and mom and household manager. I felt like superwoman, only not as capable and I failed a lot more, like my duties were cut out for a superwoman and she was not me. Unfortunately.

I took a hard look at all the things I was trying to do, and do well, all at once, and considered if any of the less important tasks could be loaded off my shoulders, to free up energy and mental resources and time for the more important roles. But who would take these responsibilities for me? I have a husband, of course, but he has his own heavy time commitments with his job. We have a houseboy come clean once a week, but I was still doing all the daily clean-ups and dishes and sweeping and tidying, and overseeing the girls' efforts at the same, even if I wasn't technically scrubbing toilets or mopping floors. And then there's laundry, which deserves its own category anywhere, but especially here with my Euro washer that takes 3 hours for a cycle and then hanging everything up to dry outside in a timely manner so it doesn't get musty, and then doing more ironing than I would if I were using a dryer since stuff wrinkles more when you hang it outside. I'm exhausted just thinking about last semester and how frustratingly inadequate I felt at at least one of my life roles at any given time.



(There was also the fact that we were often left scrambling for a babysitter for the girls. We are blessed to have some good neighbors to help in that area but sometimes we just couldn't make it work with me being here and Jeremy being there and the girls being carted all over the place in between. And heaven forbid one of the kids gets sick on a day when both Jeremy and I had to teach - who do you send your sick kid to at 7.30 in the morning? I still consider the "constant back-up babysitter" feature to be a peripheral bonus of having a live-in housekeeper, though, at least for our purposes.)

Anyway, can you tell that I decided that the housekeeping portion of the household manager role was what could be re-assigned to someone who was not me? Go ahead, judge me.

But first, imagine, if you will, being able to outsource all the cleaning, all the laundry, all the tidying, and some of the cooking prep (and all of the clean-up) to someone who lived in your house. Also, as a bonus, that person could be there at any time to take care of the kids when there's a gap between your schedule and your husband's schedule. I imagined it, and I wondered why we weren't taking advantage of the opportunity to hire such a person. It's an extra cost, of course, but it's partially subsidized since we live rent-free in a home that has maid's quarters built in to the floor plan. Also, the cost would be figuratively reduced since we would no longer be spending money on the weekly houseboy cleaning or any babysitting at all.

Ah, but deciding to do it and making it a reality are two different things. We've begun the process of selecting/hiring a nanny and it approaches the level of bureaucracy and confusion of obtaining a certificate of degree equivalency from the UAE. At this point, I understand that our "we are almost positively sure we want to hire a live-in housekeeper/nanny" plans could fall through, or be delayed, for about two dozen reasons. And there is much, much more I can (and probably will) say about the quirks of the process. Coming soon...

6 comments:

Melody said...

I told hubby that if we ever buy a bigger house it's coming with a maid. I don't have as much of a problem finding a babysitter, but I sure don't like to clean...

Liz Johnson said...

I seriously applaud this decision. There are so many little quirks that will be taken care of with a live-in housekeeper/nanny. Especially with both of you working/in school, I think you'll absolutely love it. And your kids will benefit from it, as I obviously did. I promise I still know how to do chores and clean and I didn't become entitled or obnoxious...at least, if I did, it wasn't from having a live-in maid. :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

You might as well take advantage of the opportunity. You seem to have worked through the negatives, so go for it while you live in a place where having a nanny is economically feasible.

Eevi said...

I cant wait to hear how this works out!

Lilianne said...

If you live overseas and DON'T take advantage of this opportunity, you'd be crazy!! I'm so excited for you. If I lived in a country where it was customary to have such help, I would not hesitate to never do another dish! :) haha! Good luck and way to go! (I love that you're actually getting pedicures and having people clean your house and so much more. You've come a long way, my friend!! I'm so proud of you! :)

Crys said...

I judge you...to be a smart capable woman who can make the right decisions for her family. Don't worry about what you think the rest of us will think. It's obviously this isn't about trying to be the next Housewives of Dubai, this is about trying to make your family work to it's fullest potential. And even if it was all TLC network, it really wouldn't be any of our business :) As my kids have gotten older I've found that rather than have life get less busy, it's gotten crazier. With more kids in more activities, more schools, more obligations it takes a little army to get everything done. I want to be the mom who helps out and goes to activities or can get my yearly physically without dragging everyone else along. Not living close to family makes that so much more difficult. Sure you have friends, but sometimes trying to work out the details around their help can be twice as difficult and you guys have been doing some crazy juggling. Two nights ago I woke up and this dumb sty I have was hurting so bad I thought I was going to go blind. I wanted to go to the emergency room but when I looked at the clock out of my one functioning eye I realized there was only three hours before Jason had to leave for his shift and there was no way I'd be back in time. What kind of ridiculousness is this that I have to make health care decisions based on babysitting? Last time I had to take Peach to the emergency room I had two other kids with me and was praying they'd hurry up fast so I could get done in time to pick up Captain E from school. I'm not even working or in school and if I could afford it I'd totally get myself some help. Plus I applaud your school and work. I have three daughters and I want them to know that they have value on multiple levels and spheres, that education is important for everyone, and that everyone should look for meaningful ways to contribute to society. We never in this house try to pigeonhole them into any thing and want all of them to be prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities that arise for them. You are a great example of that and you do your girls proud everyday.

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