Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Help (get it done or do it yourself?)

The Help – it’s something we women never get bored of of discussing. We like to examine this topic from every angle, hardly every tiring of this conversation, even if we often get tired of the very people whom we are talking about.


In a large percentage of the Indian Diaspora, maids are often a necessity. And it’s especially so in our community - with sprawling old bungalows to maintain, numerous parties to be thrown and busy social calendars, maids are deemed as a must. These maids not only clean the house and utensils, but often babysit children, getting them ready for school, feeding them their meals or putting them down for a nap, freeing up time for the moms to attend to their social commitments. While I am not a very social person and would rather hole up in my house than invest my time in parties and meetings, I wouldn’t mind some help around the house and in the kitchen either, and with a patch of babysitting, especially on those days, when my little one turns into a shrieking banshee.


While I’ve hired a gamut of people in the past three years, since my son was born, for both – housework and a spot of babysitting, I have been running into ‘problem people’ every single time. Or maybe, I just don’t ‘manage’ them right. And so, I’ve faced HR issues so myriad in dealing with maids, that I’d probably put an HR manager in a MNC to shame.

From hygiene issues to behavioral problems, I’ve seen it all in the last few years. And this hasn’t been sitting pretty with me. Dealing with hostile energies and a bucket load of other people’s (i.e. theirs) problems has been weighing me down, making me impatient and short-tempered.

And this makes me wonder what real woman power and control is all about. Is it about dealing with issues created by other women all the time? Or, is it about reclaiming a measure of your sanity and space by relying on the help at the end of your arm, even if it means one has to juggle all the roles i.e. mom, professional, wife, social butterfly, more vigorously?

After watching my mother do every bit of her own housework for the past 20 years and still make time for her work and family, I wonder if in our country we rely a bit too much on maids to clean our own house, cook our meals and look after our children.
I mean sure, if the person helping you is more of a help than a headache, then why not? But if it’s the latter, does it make sense to put up with everything to save ourselves a few hours of housework?

At this point, I worry about being able to do all of it – the housework, cooking and child care, the deadlines and the assignments, the social engagements and the parties, with minimal help. But after watching all those who take pride in doing their own housework and still managing to get a life beyond it, I’m guessing, that it may take a while to get used to depending on my own two hands, but it will soon become a muscle memory.


It will become a habit that just might begin to feel more freeing. It may also save time and energy that otherwise goes into dealing with the negativity that some of them shovel in by the hour. And probably, I’ll even be able to get more work done because of the simple philosophy – the more work you have, the more you can get done. And not to mention the workout it gives you – the scrubbing and cleaning. I’m also hoping that seeing his parents do most of their work, will help my son form a better work ethic.

Here’s a great piece by another writer where she tackles this topic with gusto.

Do you do your own housework? What kind of tips do you have for managing housework and your professional life and parenting? How have you gone maid-minimal and how has this taught your children to help around the house?

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#housework #domesticity #housecleaning #help

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