Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The end of the nanny era

We've had a live-in nanny/housekeeper for a year now. However, in a few days, her contract will expire and we will not be renewing it. Nor will we be hiring another live-in nanny/housekeeper. Instead, we're going back to the days of teenaged neighborhood babysitters and young Indian men cleaning my house once a week.

When I mention to others that we are not renewing our nanny's contract, I get a lot of strange looks since I am about to have a baby and will ostensibly be needing more household help than ever. But that's not the point. The reason we are moving away from the live-in model of outsourced housekeeping is because in the end, as we suspected from the beginning, Jeremy and I don't like having someone else living in our house. We knew this would be the biggest challenge to overcome. And we did overcome it, when having a live-in nanny/housekeeper was a necessity. It would not have been possible for me to take three MA classes, teach two university classes, and operate as a wife/mother all at once without some kind of major outside help. I could do (and had done, for over a year) two MA classes with all of that, but not three.

So we put up with having someone live in our home and even accepted it, while we had to. But now that it is no longer necessary - I mean, I'm sure it would be nice to keep having live-in help, but not necessary - we are done.

I even suspect the nesting instinct has something to do with it. For a few months now, I have been itching to have this house all to ourselves. It was suddenly very important to me that it be just our family here, always, not just on Fridays. I can't really explain this urge. I only know that it has been getting stronger as my due date approaches (still almost a month away, thanks).

Of course, there are other practical considerations that have influenced our decision. Jeremy and I don't separate our salaries, either in bank accounts or in household accounting, but I always kind of felt like our housekeeper's salary came out of mine. Well, starting this fall semester, I won't be getting a salary. So it makes sense to cut out the expenditures that came from that source (at least in my mind).

Speaking of expenditures, that was another issue. Yes, it is "cheap" to have a live-in housekeeper in Sharjah. But it can still be really expensive, you know? There are all kinds of costs to bear aside from the monthly salary, at least if you do things legally, which we did. I am really looking forward to not being responsible for those fees (and the accompanying paperwork) anymore.

Do I have any regrets about hiring a live-in housekeeper/nanny for a year? Not really. It was a necessary experiment, even if it turned out to be just an experiment. There are some things I would do differently if given the chance, but on the whole I see it as something we needed to do, so we did it, and it fulfilled its purpose, and now it's done.

I wish I could have blogged more about having a live-in nanny/housekeeper, about the good and the bad, but I never felt like it was the right thing to do. If you ever talk to me in person, though, I'd be happy to share more about the experience. Especially now that it's almost over, woohoo!


Timothy Browning said...

Fascinating. I totally get that you want to create your own space. Our last three weeks of our trips were with our best friends in Germany, in a lovely house in a great location, but by the end, we were all just thinking "we want our own space." Also, I hated having a housecleaner in Fez, even though it was once a week. It's not exactly privacy that I wanted, it was more just a closed sphere of who gets to come in and do things to our house

Sherwood family said...

Congratulations! I was wondering if you would keep your live-in for another year. Our housekeeper just quit (like we woke up from jet lag and she was waiting outside our door to quit) and with less than five months left, I don't think we'll hire another one. The kids and I just did our fist day of cleaning, and though I miss the time, I LOVE LOVE LOVE not having anyone else in our house. So I agree with you completely. Especially overseas, home is a very private place.

Oh, and congratulations on the baby! I was completely surprised.

Liz Johnson said...

You know, I loved it as a kid, but as a wife/mother... I'm not sure I would want somebody in my space, either. I can totally see how that would be a factor.

Congrats on a great experiment!

Jennifer said...

It will be a special time for your family to welcome a baby with just your family there. What are Carol's plans? Does she have another job lined up?


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