Monday, July 16, 2007

Help or No Help ?

I was reading this post at The Mad momma’s yesterday and the post and the comments made me feel as if I am in a parallel universe. Maids for my kid, one or in multiples? Help that takes care of my child while I go for beauty treatments or whatever else treatments? Are there even options like that out there?

Most of you moms (unless you are Warren Buffet or married to someone like that) staying outside India do not have a house help who takes care of the kid I guess. You can have nannies but they are not there to take care of the kids whims and fancies while you rush in and out of beauty parlors or coffee shops. If you have to take your kids to the peds, you do it. If to the park again it’s you (or the hubby). If your kid wants a certain dinner or certain lunch for school, you cook it up. If your kid is sick, you stay up all night, alternate work days with the hubby, come back home bleary eyed to cook and feed the child, and have a restless night again. All in all you are involved in all aspects of your child. Fact is you do not have a choice but to do it yourself.

I do pine for some help, specially when I am back from work and try to rest a little and the now 3 and ½ year old thinks I should have taken my nap at office and this is time for jumping around like her. But I know this is my child and not my neigbour’s, so smiling and saying “Darling” and making “sweet talk” or reading a couple of books alone at the end of the day is not enough. I have to be involved in every aspect of her life. I have never had the good fortune to have a house help (except for the lady who drops in to clean) and I don’t know how their existence would have changed my life or my involvement with my daughter. All I know is if there’s anything that needs to get done for her it’s her parents that have to do it. There simply is no choice.

Its not only about "quality time", a phrase used very very widely these days, kids also need time in "quantity" from their parents. I as a parent feel my role is not only to read a few books and make trips to the park with her. My job as a parent calls for much more. The fact that I do all the small chores for her from cooking to feeding to taking her to bed to teaching her to use the bathroom to washing her up makes me feel very satisfied. Maybe I do not do all these to perfection and it also takes up a lot of my time, time that I could have spent at the park with her, but at the end of the day I feel I have done my best for my daughter. Afetr all we did have fun together making shapes out of the flour dough while I rolled out rotis and we can go to the park tomorrow...

What do you think? If you have a house help at all to help with the kid, how do you distribute the kids work with her? If you don’t have one, how much do you think you would let the house help be involved with your kids work/activities?

To stir up some interest during a lethargic summer week day I am writing this. I am neither for or against house help/maid or anything. So please post your views as you feel it.


SJ said...

Hi Sandeepa, glad to see you are back to the blog world (or maybe you never took a break and I just haven't been blog surfing enough?)

Yes, I agree that in US it is hard to find someone, and it is hard to do manage it all, but inspite of all my grumbling, I wouldn't want it any other way. If I were in India and could afford lot's fo help, I would probably like to hire them to do more of my chores like daily cleaning, laundry, gardening, cooking etc, so I could spend more time with my daughter.
Children are moulded by the example set by the adults around them and I'd rather she pick up things from me than a hired help.

I am also quite a paranoid mom, I haven't yet left her along in anyone home even when I take her for a playdate, though I have friends who do that and take a couple of hours off for themselves.

Asha said...

Hi Sandeepa,
it's good to have some help to take the kids off of our hands for few hrs once in a while to keep us sane but personally,I don't think I will be happy if others raise my kids for most of the time in a regular day.(of course,it's easy for me,I stay home!)
In their whole lives,I left my kids once with a baby sitter when we HAD to attend a Doctors' get together and that is the last time! I know I am little crazy to let it bother me so much but I just trust ME with my kids and nobody else.
I left kids with Arvind for few mins in Disney World few yrs back and Tushar got lost for an hr.We were in panic until I found him crying with a lady who was looking for the parents in that crowd!
Last year,in Universal Studios,Arvind lost him again,this time Tushar was 11yrs old!!!Can you believe that?I hate Arvind's absentmindedness.NEVER AGAIN!
But if had worked outside home too,I don't think I would have had much choice but to get a good (expensive!) Nanny or a great child care.Got to do what we got to do,right?:))

Sandeepa said...


Lost Tushar at 11...that is so very funny :)
I am not talking of day care Asha. My daughter started daycare at the age of 2 too, if not maybe there would be a nanny at home.(Ok, I was not happy sending her to the daycare either)

If you read the post I linked to, It seems people have help who accompany the parents to the doctors, to the restaurant, to the playground and take care of the kids at all times, or so it seems.

I am talking of help in that dimension

I was just being real lazy :)

Kodi's Mom said...

the only time we've had a maid around K was during our two short india trips. both times, I was encouraged to leave K with her for a little while so I could help with something else in the house. I wasn't too happy about it, but did it since it wasn't a permanent arrangement. but I would never have gone shopping/out with friends while the maid watched him. neither would I be comfortable with her feeding/bathing him. because whoever does these chores also reaps the benefits :)

the odd phrases here and there, the funny observations - these little, everyday moments are what makes raising a child entertaining, fulfilling, instead of a routine chore.

to answer your q if I had house help, the most I would ask is 'can you keep an eye on him for 10 min while I finish something'

Maid's roles in childrearing gets worse in some cultures. Read this by STS.

sunita said...

Sandeepa, when we were in India, I too had house help, but that was as you say, in the form of the lady who came to do some cleaning chores...for nearly a year during their early life, the kids had just me to look after them (Dinesh had been to and fro-ing from the UK every few that time I also used to work ( during the hours that they were in their playgroup)...this meant that my day started at 4 in the morning to make sure all the meals were prepared before the kids woke up and I was free to pay full attention to their needs...those were really hard and sleepless days...but my point is that, although there was no dearth of help there, I never engaged one to specifically take care of the kids...although it was back breaking, I felt a sense of satisfaction in doing all the end of the day, I was glad to be there for them. And after coming to the UK, I was happy to do everything as well...for that matter,am still doing.

Praba said...

Sandeepa - happy to see you're back. I owe posts here, don't I? Hoping I can get to it sometime - all my blogs have been dormant for a while..Sorry!

Coming to your post on help or no help, interesting topic! We just moved into our own house, and we've hired a woman to help us with the cleaning/housekeeping part - not once in a week thing - but more regular like few hrs every day. Please dont give me that look, girls!
Yes, it is expensive but we figured we need this amount of comfort to maintain our sanity until our kids grow up - at least the younger one starts school, and avoid arguments on cleaning. I love cooking - in fact sometimes make 3 meals a day. My husband has a hi-pressure job. The last 3 yrs managing my family alone trying to balance cooking and cleaning, I went crazy.

So to answer your question, I think it's really hard for us Moms to manage it all - whether working or SAHM - in my case, until my second one starts school, the next four yrs, I am sure I'll need someone to help me with the CLEANING and light help with cooking part on a daily basis.

On whether or not she will be doing things for my kids - nope! I am not going to let her get involved in any other aspect of my children's lives - like she taking my baby out for a walk/bath etc. etc. - NOPE - may be an oocasional diaper change will help my back, but that will be all!

When I interviewed her, I made it clear - it's not nanny kind of a job - but cleaning kithen, rooms, bathrooms, and help with cooking kinda job - She comes few times a week for a few hours - we pay her per hr basis. Also, I would never feel comfortable leaving my kids home alone with anyone unless my MIL or mom are here.

Nothing can match the satisfaction of doing everything for one's kids - but the cleaning part - I dont mind outsourcing at all to retain my sanity..Yes, occasionally I do get eaten by guilt, but I think of all the Indian Moms in India who have all the help from family and maids..I tell myself, I need this. Had I had one kid, may be I would have not taken help for all this. With two, it gets really crazy - things move very slowly in the house with cleaning - unfolded laundry stays in the dryer for days and what not...We've had this maid for two weeks now. She is looking for a full-time job soon...So - it might very well be back to square one within a few weeks. But this last couple of weeks, my house hasn't looked this clean! :-)

indosungod said...

Sandeepa, thought provoking post and one I have wrestled with countless times. "Help or No Help?" question comes with the twin question "To continue working or not?". Should I send her to daycare or hire a nanny is the anciallary question.

I work from home so I have a babysitter who comes to watch the baby (though she is not a baby anymore). But I am not sure if I would have been comfortable to start with the nanny if I were not working from home all day. But now I trust her enough to leave DD2 with her when I have to go to work 2 days a week. DH having a flexible schedule and place of work helps a great deal.

The reason I continue to work is more personal than financial meaning I need to work my brain to stay sane, so if I quit my job and became a full time mom I know I would be a terrible mother. Like SJ ponts out I set a different kind of example for the kids.

This is my personal situation and I know enough to not judge people for the decisions they make. Having help is not a bad thing.

Even when we were growing up we were not watched by our parents 24 hours of the day. Having to deal with different people also gives kids coping mechanisms that they would not develop if we there hovering over them all the time.

Sandeepa said...

K's Mom

That was an interesting post. Just read it.


That's the point, some help is necessary, but entrusting them with the entire responsibility is just too much.


So you are married to Warren Buffet :) No, just kidding. With two kids I understand that you need some help with the daily house work.If you can get one for some hrs it definitely is a blessing. One of my friends does that too. It helps her to run errands and stuff with the older one while the hired help continues with the house work.
But what I meant is something more alligned to the link and also Kodi's Mom's link

Of course you need a babysitter if you are working out of home. Even my daughter goes to a day care when I am not there. Its not about that kind of help.
What I meant might be more clear if you check out the post I link or the one Kodi's Mom links to.

Kay said...

Sandeepa, I have seen this too... And I don't get it.

In my opinion, getting help from hired people or family members (other than the child's parents) is perfectly alright as long as it is not to shift your responsibility to somebody else.

indosungod said...

Sandeepa, I did read both the articles before I typed up the response, I am somewhat reluctant to pass judgements on moms with help whatever the reason may be.

Mine is the reason I gave but described in both the articles are moms who chose to leave the responsibility to nannies. Are they right in doing so I don't know.

I also know of moms who stay with their kids 24hrs a day and smother them and the kids are so bad behaved and disrespectful of the moms that I am not so sure that is a good way to raise kids either.

Is hiring somebody to watch your kids while you go off on a beauty treatment worse than a mom who hires a nanny so she can relax after a hard day of work at home or vice versa? Don't know again.

I know there are no answers but I get uncomfortable when one set of moms get riled up when another set of moms do things differently. Different strokes for different folks.

Something to Say said...

I am a SAHM - and I have a part time help - one that comes in 2 hrs every alternate day. And she does not watch my son. When she is here to do her chores, sonny and I read and write and draw and paint... basically 100% sonny time. So I feel its a relief that I have her. I dont think I cud leave sonny with anyone besides immediate family. I'm way too clingy with sonny for that. Wonder how I'll let him go to school???

Saheli said...

Here are my two cents...

First of all, I would love to have help at home, whether its with the household chores or with the kids. I agree that the quality and quantity of parents involvement are important. But, after their toddler phase is gone and they start school and other activities, it becomes very hectic for parents too. My son currently plays baseball and also goes for Track. Both these activities last for 3 hrs each. My husband doesn't make it to all 'practices' or 'games' so on days when he is not there I would really appreciate if somebody could spend time playing with my daughter.
I haven't read the article mentioned by Kodi's mom yet but, in my experience I do believe that kids should have the opportunity to learn the wits of life not only through their parents but, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers and even maids or care takers(ofcourse good ones) for that matter.
I have seen some desi kids so rude and ill mannered that I would love to see some intervention by the "others" be it a relative or maids in their upbringring.

When a mom takes a break and let s the maid feed the kid once in a while does not mean that she is not a "good mom"

Anyways, to answer your Q, I would like to mention what Kay said in her comment,
"getting help from hired people or family members (other than the child's parents) is perfectly alright as long as it is not to shift your responsibility to somebody else."
Well said Kay :)

the mad momma said...

Hello! The only reason I am commenting is because of the link up to mypost.. here's my two cents... I think the situation is very different. In India, we all grew up with househelp. And since I still live in India, the idea is not alien to me. Which is exactly why I am home with the kids - I dont believe in anyone else taking on my responsibilities. But as someone rightly pointed out... how is it so different from a daycare?

but this is all just an Indian point of view where clothes are still washed by hand, as are utensils, veggies are filthy, rice still needs to be cleaned if you are money conscious and much else...

i am sure it costs the earth to have help in the US....

Roopa said...

Hi Sandeepa, i have a full time maid to look after my kids while i am working. i have had maid even while my daughter was young like 2.5 yrs to 4 yrs. It was a great help for me why i opted for maids and not for child care many have pondered me with this question how do you trust your maid? well if we think arent we are also employed to do some work then does it mean they don't trust us its the same, after all she is also a human being come here to earn a living. well 25% also depends on the attitude of the helper and how she likes the family and ways of living. my second one was a bad exp now we are back and everthing is sought of well. yes if my dad or in laws were here would be a great help. But even though i had maid to help during the day time. once i am back, we spend our time with the kids be it school work,tv , or play and dinner and my maid does all the other chores. i leave home by 7 and get back as far a s possible by 7 so with these schedules i preferred maids rather than childcare. Here in Singapore it is easy for us to hire even part time maids for few hrs which would be great for you i think like doing only the chores in the eveing and you spend the time with the kid. hope you can get some alternative hemp :)

romila said...

Hi Sandeepa,

Coming here for the first time.Feels good to know that all moms are the same on the kidsfront. I am a fulltime working mom to a one and half year old daughter. I have a very good help who alternates her role from a nanny when I am at work to a domestic help once I am at home. Earlier, I used to be guilty leaving my daughter to a somebody but after seeing my help's affection and care towards my kid, I now feel its a perfect setting. My baby will get the best of all the worlds- from me and hubbys undivided attention while at home to my help's while at work. Besides, we work for 5 days a week,so 2 complete days a week is reserved solely with my kid.