Wednesday, May 08, 2013

How is it going with our live-in housekeeper?

We've had our live-in housekeeper/nanny for eight months now. I haven't blogged about it as much as I thought I would. It's harder than you'd think to blog about someone who lives in your home, even when funny misunderstandings happen. For example, I found out recently that maybe one of the reasons my kids love toast so much is because when Carol makes it for them, she puts on butter, sugar, AND cinnamon-sugar (which I'm guessing she doesn't realize has sugar in it). Or there was the time I asked Carol to chop some vegetables (including an onion) for a recipe we've made lots of times, that I assumed she could make in her sleep. Only, earlier in the day, I had washed out the bowl I keep the onions in and so there were a bunch of onions sitting on a different counter in the kitchen, and when I walked in later...they had ALL been chopped. All of them. Our fridge smelled like onions for a WHILE. Anyway, stuff like that. Some of it is ha-ha funny but some of it is more exasperating.

So it's harder than you'd think to blog about this stuff, and it's also harder than you'd think to have a live-in housekeeper/nanny. Actually, we knew before we hired one that it would be challenging on a few levels, which is partly why it took us two years to work ourselves up to the idea. Here's an update on two of the major pros and cons of having a live-in housekeeper/nanny. You can see how sometimes the pros are also cons.

She is here all the time. Is that a pro or a con? You decide. For us introverts, this can be a major challenge.  But for us busy parents who both have jobs, this is a blessing. Anytime we need to run out the door for a meeting or run upstairs to the majlis to get some work done, she's there to take over with the kids. But, again, anytime we want to just hang out in our underwear or eat all uncivilized-like on the living room couch...she's there. (Unless it's Friday, her day off, in which case we can do whatever we want, woohoo!)

We are giving someone a job. It's great to pat ourselves on the back for hiring someone legally and paying her well, and know that she is providing for her extended family back home. Really, it is. However, this feeling is sometimes a burden. She is responsible for supporting her family...and we are responsible for supporting her. When there's an emergency back home and Carol needs more money, she comes to US. And we are not heartless. But it's hard to be both an employer and a humanitarian. Those are two very different roles and you can't very well straddle the line between them and run a tight ship at home at the same time. At least not in my experience.

That's how it's going with our live-in housekeeper these days. Pros are sometimes cons, and vice-versa. Some days you don't know what you'd do without her, and other days you feel like doing everything yourself so you don't have to give detailed instructions for once. Never a dull moment.


Suzanne Bubnash said...

We have a gal come in 2x a month to clean the house--it's much easier for me to keep it clean when it starts out clean, and It's worth everything to me to have someone clean Daniel's room.

Anyway, I was amused by your pros and cons because we have them too, even though she doesn't live here and comes only twice a month. Before she comes I dejunk the house so that I'm not paying her to move my stuff around so she can clean. But there are times on a Tuesday night when I'm just not prepared for her 7:30 a.m. Wednesday arrival. Especially if I have a messy project going that's a hassle to pick up. Or if we have visitors and their stuff is all over the place. She doesn't care. It just adds to my stress thinking that I have to have everything tidied up.

Crys said...

I felt like this was pretty con heavy...are you thinking about not having home help next year? I often think I'd like home help but I'm also fairly lonely. Dr j is on 30 hour shifts every fifth day and only gets four days off a month but I would hate not being able to walk around in my underwear. That would really cramp my style ;-). So maybe I'd be just as conflicted.

Liz Johnson said...

I remember the employer/humanitarian line being very difficult for my parents. I also remember one time that our maid had asked for money to help a family member with some emergency medical need (I believe her brother?). Turns out she used it for an abortion. That freaked my parents right out.

Bridget said...

Yes, con-heavy. There are ups and downs. Maybe we're just in the middle of a down.

Bridget said...

That is such a dilemma for me - I dearly want to just believe every reason to ask for money...and then I hear stories like this and I become the most suspicious person in the world. :)

Liz Johnson said...

To be fair, it was partially for her brother... because her "brother" ended up being her boyfriend. We actually ended up having to let her go for other reasons (she stole from us), so maybe it was just one bad apple. The maid we had after that is still like family to us - one of the most wonderful people in the world.


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