Life without a maid?

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keating19
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Life without a maid?

Post by keating19 » Sun, 27 Mar 2011 2:27 am

I have looked around quite a bit on this forum and found some helpful information about having a maid (working with agencies, paying, living arrangements, etc) but I am curious for advice about whether to even hire a maid at all. I am a stay at home mom with two young children. I feel like full time help might be too much, but, since it seems so many people do have them, I wonder how it is to live in Singapore without one. Are babysitters easy to find? Is it possible to have a cleaning service once a month to help me from getting too far behind? ;) I am so accustomed to just bringing my kids with me to run errands, etc. but am realizing that will be a lot harder to do when using public transportation rather than just jumping in our car. I am also not sure about how I feel about someone living in our home, although I suppose we would adapt.

I realize there are a lot of factors that go into making this persnal choice, but I am interested in others experiences about what made you decide either way regarding hiring a live in maid. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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longstebe
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Post by longstebe » Sun, 27 Mar 2011 3:59 am

Why change now?
One of the guys had posted something a few months back which I though was brilliant he had mentioned his mother raising 7 or more kids without any help from a maid.
It also goes to show that we take things for granted sometimes.
This is not a personal attack by the way.

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Post by x9200 » Sun, 27 Mar 2011 7:15 am

There is nothing specific to Singapore that would force you or made a compelling reason to hire a living in maid if you are happy without one now.

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Mary Hatch Bailey
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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Sun, 27 Mar 2011 8:03 am

longstebe wrote:Why change now?
One of the guys had posted something a few months back which I though was brilliant he had mentioned his mother raising 7 or more kids without any help from a maid.
It also goes to show that we take things for granted sometimes.
This is not a personal attack by the way.
Sure, you can have root canal without novocaine too, but why would you.
I am a stay at home mom with two young children. I feel like full time help might be too much, but, since it seems so many people do have them, I wonder how it is to live in Singapore without one. Are babysitters easy to find? Is it possible to have a cleaning service once a month to help me from getting too far behind? I am so accustomed to just bringing my kids with me to run errands, etc. but am realizing that will be a lot harder to do when using public transportation rather than just jumping in our car. I am also not sure about how I feel about someone living in our home, although I suppose we would adapt.
Here are my two cents, and not necessarily the feeling of everyone, believe me. I moved here from the northeast of the US, with three tiny children under 4. I couldn't conceive of having a maid, I was not raised in a family that had help of any kind. But here is what I learned after living here many years ~

In Singapore since private cars are not a given, you can get anything delivered, which is wonderful, but not if there is no one at home to receive the items

Because this is the tropics, certain aspects of a household need much more maintenance than a temperate climate. Towels need to be washed more, ants and other pests are a constant problem so sweeping and mopping happen everyday. Mold and gecko poop on walls needs constant attention, mold on leather shoes or furniture, DVDs, etc... You have to buy food more often as it doesn't keep as long.

In a new environment kids tend to get sick a lot. It makes it so much better if you can take your sick child to the doctor without the healthy ones in tow.

Having a maid means you'll be able to spend quality time with your spouse, which is hugely important here as you adjust to your new life. There's lots of info to exchange in those early months...

Most working spouses travel a great deal while they were here, so often you'll be at home with the kids without a partner.

Sure kids run errands with their parents, but with a maid they don't have to if it's inconvenient. It gives you the option. If one is at home napping/sick/on a playdate you can run out unencumbered in 1/2 the time. Shops don't have a basket of toys in the corner for kids, it's not part of the culture here.

With a maid your kids can participate in a much wider variety of extra curriculars.

Baby-sitters can be hard to find and many of them are other peoples maids and paying them for baby-sitting is, indeed, illegal.

With a maid you can use the time you would normally doing routine housework to:

skype with people at home,
volunteering at their school or else where,
make new friends so they'll have new friends
learn your way around the public transport system
go to your third grocery store in a day looking for ___________.

The truth is, everything you take for granted about your current lifestyle, everything, no matter how simplistic, will take longer to do here until you figure it out. A maid will take the pressure off and give you the luxury of time to do the most important thing you have to do: make friends for yourself. If you don't, you're a goner. Case closed. Also, a good, experienced maid will know how to do things here you don't.

You'll hear all kinds of stories, but the relationship with your maid is your own. Our maids weren't part of the family really, but they were respected, treated well, etc... We raised our kids, not our maids. My kids don't speak tagalog, they don't treat Filipinas badly or like servants, in fact just the opposite. Now in college, they see how rife the US is with racism and they just don't get it. Employing a maid and treating her well and with respect can be a very positive life lesson for them.


Hope this helps, a maid is not a panacea, but there are many valid reasons most people have them here that are hard to anticipate sitting at home in your well-established routine.

Hope this helps~

MHB

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Post by merichan » Sun, 27 Mar 2011 5:27 pm

You can always do without...


I know people who do back in HK and here in Singapore.


On my side...


We chose to have one

as my hubby does long hours and can't be counted for any help in the home...

as finding a baby-sitter in the evening in case can be troublesome...

as anything that has do to with school people assume that you can manage to come at 5pm without your child...

as I don't have any family or close friends that can relieve me for a while of my daughter, or take her when she finishes school and that my appointment that what supposed to be finished is running late...

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Sun, 27 Mar 2011 7:07 pm

^^didn't I just say that? ^^ :roll:

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Post by keating19 » Tue, 29 Mar 2011 2:31 am

I really appreciate everyone's thoughts. You have brought up some good points to think about. One more piece to this big puzzle that comes along with such a big move!

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Post by k1w1 » Wed, 30 Mar 2011 10:30 am

Completely agree with what MHB said.

I will just add that there is indeed an expectation about getting a maid in Singapore and this bleeds out into other things... Like you'll find people will invite you somewhere and change plans at the last minute (no problem if you have a maid, but a major issue if you're trying to juggle with a sitter). Schools will not appreciate younger siblings coming on class trips if you decide to help out (it is expected the other child will be left with the maid). It was not unusual to get notes home from school saying things like: "please pick your child up at 3.00 next Wednesday from the theatre directly after the show". For a working parent, that kind of situation was a nightmare - but it was expected there was someone around who could deal with it. Even if you aren't working you'll come to really appreciate, and sometimes desperately need, the extra set of hands.

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Post by boffenl » Wed, 30 Mar 2011 1:25 pm

There are plenty of families who do without a maid. Since my husband works from home it is not an option to have a live in maid. We do have someone who comes once a month to clean--they are cheap, friendly and easy to find. I only have one child, and as a working parent, there are some trade-offs. We've decided to make do without the help of a maid--just like our life in the US or Canada.

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Post by ksl » Wed, 30 Mar 2011 2:09 pm

Life without a maid is a sweaty life, if you don't use air conditioning when cleaning! :P This applies to non Asians of course! All other problems are a fact of life anywhere in the world without a maid, you have to solve the problems of looking after children.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 30 Mar 2011 2:51 pm

Yes, it's a sweaty life but nothing a good cold shower won't solve at the end of it all. I've done without both maid & aircon. Hasn't hurt me a bit, nor my wife. Course she's local, but I'm acclimatized! :)
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Wed, 30 Mar 2011 3:54 pm

I could never get around the argument of "we want it to be just like out life back in __________". What's the point of an expat posting to replicate your former life? I never needed three pest control companies all at the same time, but here I do. Things are different.

I think k1w1 is right, the basic assumption of having help at home manifests itself in all kinds of ways. The grocery store aisles are too tight to accommodate a family with 2 little children in tow, and the application of building codes are still so unpredictable with all those little half steps everywhere, dangerous balconies, open rain drains one meter deep -- an extra set of eyes/hands really comes in handy. I can remember a playground here that had bent rusty nails for decoration. There's also the consideration of how social Singapore is, especially for children. How many birthday parties have I hosted when extra little uninvited guests showed up because there was no maid at home and the parents wanted to use the time to run errands? Or adult cocktail parties in the evening with a two year old running around?

I took my kids everywhere in the US too. Latched into three car seats, and off we'd go. I don't think they're going to lament the fact they didn't get to the dry cleaner more, or have to pile in the car when they were woken form a nap because we ran out of milk.

I would have missed out on some priceless travel opportunities, long home leaves to reconnect with family and friends and the ability to run a large volunteer organization at the kids' school if I didn't have maid.

It's a personal choice in the end, and truth be told as lovely as my helper is, I can't wait to get home and have the house all to myself for a while. As I said, it's not a panacea, but it is worth serious consideration. A good maid can be a wonderful, wonderful thing for not just your family but for her too.

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Post by ksl » Wed, 30 Mar 2011 5:51 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Yes, it's a sweaty life but nothing a good cold shower won't solve at the end of it all. I've done without both maid & aircon. Hasn't hurt me a bit, nor my wife. Course she's local, but I'm acclimatized! :)
After 25 years you should be rubberized, not acclimatized :P :wink:

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Post by k1w1 » Thu, 31 Mar 2011 5:23 am

I don't get the weird sense of pride some people get about not having a maid. There are a lot of expats who get really sanctimonious about it. The number of times I had some smug person telling me I'd die of shock when I went home and had to do it all myself etc, well, it got pretty annoying...

There are before and after school care programmes here, that cost a few dollars a day, which working parents with school-aged children will often use. There are teenagers in the neighbourhood who babysit, mow lawns and feed pets when you go on holiday. University students clean houses for peanuts (and are police checked). Kids walk to and from school in "walking buses" which are run by parents/grandparents on a roster. There are qualified nannies and childcare centres. You can use your own sick leave when your kids are sick. Parents car pool. Families hire au pairs. The list goes on... None of these options are available in Singapore, or were not viable when compared with hiring a full time (or legal) maid.

So while we don't have maids in other countries, it is a bit of a joke to suggest that parents in other countries do it all themselves. No one does it all themselves, and if they do, it usually doesn't last long.

Finding a good maid is the really hard part. Oh, the horror stories I could tell about "when maids go bad"...

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Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Thu, 31 Mar 2011 6:15 am

Well said k1w1.

When I think of all the wonderful advantages having a maid has given us, none compares to the ability to have pets - to raise children and share with them the joy of having dogs, and cats, and bunnies, and fish, and turtles, and birds, and a hamster or two...

We are huge animal lovers and I would never have pets if we had to board them for weeks at a time when we travelled. When I had to break the news to our maid that our old dog had cancer, her heart just about broke in two. She sobbed and sobbed and in between croaked out: Why ma'am, he is such a good dog, who never hurt anybody."

Within a ten mile radius of where I live in the US, a sparsely populated, rural place by all measurements, there are 5 Dog day care facilities - all fantastic and all cheap. The one I use posts videos of your dog playing on Facebook. :)

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