We have a live-in house help.
I am not afraid or ashamed to admit this because I am not a supermom who can do everything and keep my sanity: work, kids and a less-cluttered house. She takes care of my son when I am out working. She helps me run the house so everyone is well fed and happy.
We are happy. Actually happier here than we were in Japan!
She is not related to us by blood but our children loves her and we treat her like family. My son is very attached to her (since she started working for us when he was only 2 months old, he is turned 2 years a few days ago) making me feel very secure I am leaving him in safe, loving hands while I work 6 days a week.
Being able to hire a live-in house help (I don’t like the term “maid”) is one of the reasons we prefer to live in the UAE.
Of course, if you’re an expat and doing very well without a house help, then great. No need to judge. We do what works for each of us. You have your reasons and here’s our reasons why we hired a live-in house help.
1. Less exhausted moms make better mothers.
I remember when we were living in Japan. We were working parents juggling career and taking care of a small child. Sure Japan offers probably one of the best daycare services to working parents but at the end of the day, I was coming home alone with my daughter, tired from my full day at work and having to face the dilemma of the mess we left in the morning, what to cook for dinner, the laundry and the other sights I did not want to see.
Japan is a work-centered society. I guess no one have thought of that when they tell me, “why did you leave? Japan is a great place!”
It’s a beautiful place, yes but a work-centered society focuses on, what else but work. Company workers ( “salaryman“) work long hours. I was part of that society before I got out and accepted a contract job after having my daughter. The contract job still demanded I sit on my desk until 6 pm. My husband is worse, he is not home until 10 or 11 pm.
To cut the story short, I did almost everything alone simply because my husband worked long hours. I was constantly tired and wasn’t able to bask in that glow moms have when they’re with their children. I felt robotic – I am able to feed, bathe, take care of my child but I wasn’t really enjoying being a mom to the fullest because I am tired and the next day’s schedule of cooking, cleaning, etc constantly looms at the back of my head.
We were not really thriving well, just ‘getting by’, one day at a time.
Here in Dubai, I feel very fulfilled I am able to spend time with my children more because someone is there to take care of the other chores. Finally I am able to enjoy this thing called motherhood all over again (my son is very lucky to have a mom who can give her full attention to him when I get home from work), catching up on time lost with my daughter.
My children runs to meet me at the door when I come home and I hug them back without thinking about anything else but them. No doubt, I am a better mother now.
2. Tired wives make crappy partners.
I’ll tell you how our life was when we were in Japan. I finish work at 6 pm, drive to pickup Pristine from daycare, sometimes make a trip to the grocery store, come home and cook dinner with her at my hips, feed and bath her and read books in bed by 8:30 pm.
There is no resident elf or any magical creature to do the laundry, the mess we left in the morning or the dirty plates piling in the sink. No cat to lick the used frying pan clean, either.
Most of the time, I doze off while making my daughter sleep until I hear my husband come through the door at about 10-11 pm. I crawl out of bed (literally as we are sleeping on the tatami floor!) to the kitchen. We look at each other and begin to pick up the dishes, clean the floor, put the laundry in the machine, iron clothes, prepare our little girl’s things for the next day.
The husband sits down to eat his dinner then we’ll both sit down to watch the news while folding laundry. It’s silent except for the TV. There are plenty of times when we were too tired to even initiate a discussion.
More like: tired wives become angry tigers?
You know what happens when you’re both tired? Little things make you snap like it’s PMS every single day. I mentioned about us both working, juggling career and taking care of a young child. But not just that, our relationship was up in the air as well.
Now, I am more relaxed, less anxious about the small stuff. I can enjoy longer and slower dinners with my spouse and listen to his talks fully because I’m less tired. Our relationship is better now.
3. It creates jobs.
Our house help is a single mom, who raised two (now grownup) kids but still has to provide them for their emergency needs, wish to give something nice for their birthdays and Christmas and more importantly, save for her old age. Job is scarce in the Philippines (her home country) and you’ll see women leaving their children and families to work abroad.
These ladies need jobs to sustain them and in Dubai, there is that demand. I think so many children have gotten through college through their moms who work as house helps or nannies here.
4. Having someone as backup.
According to this article, Why do so many of the UAE’s expat families rely on live-in help? by long time Dubai expat Annabel Kantaria,
Having a live-in helper isn’t just about having your ironing done or your floors polished and your children looked after while you loll about in the spa. It’s about having a backup.
My husband works shorter hours here in Dubai compared to when were in Japan but he works odd hours. He has night shifts that end at midnight and he mostly works on Fridays when I am off leaving me becoming like a single parent most of the time.
I need a hand on situations like when I need to attend school events for my older child and it’s difficult to take an overactive toddler, attend an event myself, occasional dinner dates with my spouse (we never had this in Japan!) or simply I need someone to take care of the baby and run the house when I fall sick.
* In Japan, if you’re child has even the slightest fever, you will be called to pick him/her up immediately. They won’t watch your sick child for you until you finish your work timing.
5. It’s nice to come home to a clean house.
Try to go home to a filthy house after a long, tiring day from work (and there’s no dinner). Cluttered home = cluttered mind. Enough said.
Though because our house help’s main responsibility is our little boy, we do not expect her to clean the house perfectly. Just to keep it less cluttered, throw the garbage and keep the kitchen clean, most of all.
So those are our reasons. Hire a help, don’t hire a help – we all have different circumstances, find the balance of what makes you happy and go for it.
If it’s logistically possible in the country you live and you are comfortable with someone non-family living in with you (or coming in to clean or help out a few times per week), willing to pay the minimum wage or more and treat your house help with respect and dignity then I’d say why not – outsource the household chores and spend more time with your children or your spouse.
For me, there is no need to feel guilty about hiring a house help if it helps you keep your sanity and be a better parent to your children because since when did asking for a better quality life a bad thing?
Next up: How to legally hire a maid (this is the proper term used here) in Dubai