For the record, this post is NOT written to bash those who have domestic helpers at home. Everyone has a different need and there are families that need a live-in helper to cope with chores or care for family members. I totally respect that for these families, having a domestic helper makes their life more manageable.
I am writing this because ever since the year started, I have had a number of people ask me why I don’t have a domestic helper when they see me with a preschooler (my Daughter), a toddler (my Son) and a young baby (my Niece). People are amazed and amused at the same time that I choose to live with the chaos that these three kids (whom all have different needs) can create without a full time helper.
I do have help at home. Help comes in the form of my mum, who comes over once or twice a week to spend a couple of hours with her grandchildren. Help comes in the form of my Husband, who splits the chores with me. Help also comes in the form of my part-time helper, who comes to my place on a weekly basis to help with more time-consuming chores like washing the toilets, cleaning the kitchen and windows, and ironing the children’s school uniforms.
Other than that, I am mostly alone with the three children. My Niece goes home in the evening, so after that I am alone with my own two kids. I have to admit that things can get crazy from one hour to the next. The older two children could be fighting over a toy and wake the baby from her nap. One of my kids could accidentally fall and start crying. A lot can happen and it can be total chaos with the kids sounding like a crying orchestra.
Wouldn’t it then be better if I had someone with me to help me?
Well, I still stick to my (to some people) crazy decision of not having a full time domestic helper and it is for these reasons:
1. We are not used to living with a stranger.
Both my Husband and I are not very keen on the idea of having a stranger live with us on a daily basis. It feels awkward enough when my part time helper is cleaning while I sit on my couch, so it will be even weirder to have someone not from the family there 24/7. So this is really one of the major reasons we don’t have a full time domestic helper.
2. Things are still manageable.
Perhaps in the event that I have a fourth *gasps* or fifth *double gasps* child (which is highly unlikely), we might consider really getting a full time helper. But until then, things are really still quite manageable around the house. My daughter is five years old now and is an excellent helper when it comes to things like packing toys, keeping folded laundry, helping to fetch or throw diapers, and even keeping an eye on her Brother and Cousin when I have to step away for a few minutes.
Even my Son, who will turn two in a couple of months, is learning to help. He calls out to me when he hears his baby Cousin cry before I hear her. He knows how to throw his and his cousin’s dirty diapers in the bin, and he packs his toys after he is done (sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t).
3. We don’t want to become reliant.
Again, not saying that those who have domestic helpers are reliant people, but I’m just saying that this is what we don’t want to become. As it is, I already feel reliant on my part time helper for the chores she is in charge of. Both my Husband and I know that if we have a full time helper, we will end up relying on the helper for a lot of things and thus become lazy. When that happens, our kids are more likely than not to follow our example and become reliant on the helper too.
4. We don’t want to take the gamble if we don’t have to.
Not all domestic helpers are like those reported in the news, stealing from the employer , abusing children who are under their care or being a living nightmare. I have met many who take care of the employing family like their own, but it is a really big gamble. There is always the question of “what if”. This is also a big part of why we don’t have a full time helper.
5. We don’t want to keep saying goodbye.
I have a tendency to grow attached to people quite easily, and I hate saying goodbye. A lot of domestic helpers don’t stay past their first contract these days. Just as it is for myself, I do not want my children to grow attached to someone and then have to say a heartbreaking goodbye after two years, and then repeat the cycle again.
Full time domestic helpers can be a great help to families who need them. For my family though, we are okay with just relying on family support and part-time help. It doesn’t feel that bad to do chores, cook meals and look after our children on our own. Also, our situation is really not that uncommon. I know many families with more children and they manage without a domestic helper.
Someone once told me that having a domestic helper means lesser times with chores and more time with the children. I would like to think that this is true when the children are younger. When children are old enough to help with chores, chores time can be used to impart important skills as well as to bond. So it is still okay.
At the end of the day, what matters is that the arrangement works for the family.