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I have a live-in house-keeper who does all the housework. Ask me anything

(54 Posts)
Expatworkingmum Thu 13-Dec-18 08:12:17

Not meant to be showy in any way. I'm not rolling in money, I just live overseas where this is completely normal. There's a fair few expats here so I'm probably not the only one.

But yes, we have a house-keeper. She does all the housework, any childcare we need and cooks for us.

Very, very fortunate.

Butteredghost Thu 13-Dec-18 08:13:21

Can we swap lives? grin

BuildingQuote Thu 13-Dec-18 22:14:01

Do you ever find it tiring having a non family member there? We had help come in every day at a relatives request and I was a bit surprised I prefer just having our family and yet she was lovely.
So do you feel just as relaxed if she’s there? (Today I wore my dressing gown over my clothes for example as so comfy which I’d never do if someone else here blush)

Expatworkingmum Thu 13-Dec-18 23:51:03

Buttered ghost - sadly not but if it makes you feel better, I used to do all the housework and cooking, plus work full time, plus community 1.5 hours each way, so I haven’t always loved like this!

masterstef Thu 13-Dec-18 23:54:40

Do you choose what she cooks? How old are your kids? Does she get underfoot cleaning up after you? I feel awkward enough when my cleaner comes twice a month and try and get out of the way!

Sounds brilliant tbh. I don't mind cleaning but with two small children it's hard to find time to do it and then I have to fill my brain remembering 'must clean that later' etc

Expatworkingmum Thu 13-Dec-18 23:54:42

Building quote, yes! Absolutely. We can’t argue properly, can’t walk around undressed and if I watch a 2.5 hour movie that has a 30 second sex scene in it, you can guarantee she walks past at that exact moment and it looks like I’m sat on the sofa watching filth!

It’s worth the lack of privacy though and you do get used to having someone around pretty quickly.

Expatworkingmum Thu 13-Dec-18 23:55:35

Meant to say in my first answer that I commuted, not communited! Is there an edit function here?

JaneJeffer Thu 13-Dec-18 23:57:27

I would not be able to cope with having domestic staff.

StarJazmin Fri 14-Dec-18 00:41:51

How much do you instruct her exactly what you want doing/how you want things done? Or does she just get on with standard stuff without you managing her too much?

I fantasise about winning the lottery and having staff. But worry I would micromanage them with my obsessive peculiarities about exactly how things are supposed to be (I can’t even live up to these ideals myself, so staff would never be able to!). It’s a real downer in my fantasy life.

How well do you know her as a person?
Do you think she secretly judges you? Do you care what she really thinks of you?

halfwitpicker Fri 14-Dec-18 00:43:34

Does she speak English?

BoebePhuffay Fri 14-Dec-18 00:45:44

Do you eat with her? Is she like a family member? What is her pay like in comparison to the hours she works?

PeroniZucchini Fri 14-Dec-18 00:56:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HappyGoLuckyGo Fri 14-Dec-18 01:09:41

Absolutely fascinating and something I’m beginning to imagine as a longer term solution for our family.

How did you find this person?
Where are you living?
How much space do they have to themselves?
How often do they go out and leave you to have family-only time?
How much do they get paid? (Bit crass, but it is AMA!)
What about their opportunities to see their own family (or start one)?

Iloveautumnleaves Fri 14-Dec-18 01:43:12

I would hate it. Whilst I’d love all the cleaning, dishes, house stuff done as it needs it, and meals cooked, I would hate to have someone in my space all the time. Especially someone I pay to do all the things I don’t want to do. I couldn’t relax.

As soon as there’s a magic fairy though. I’m in.

The bump back down to reality will hurt when you stop with the expat lifestyle 😖

Expatworkingmum Fri 14-Dec-18 02:53:13

Ok here goes:

Do we choose what she cooks? No. She knows what we like and she cooks that. I love to cook so the biggest luxury for me is not having to deccide, rather than the cooking itself. If I didn’t work such long hours i’d do my own cooking. It’s only ever dinner though, we make our own lunch and breakfast if we’re home. This is just a personal choice.

How old are my kids: I have just one almost 6 year old.

Does she get underfoot? DH and I both work full time so definitely not. She doesn’t really clean up after us. We clear the table after we eat (well, I do - DH sits on his bum!) so otherwise most of what she does is when we’re at work.

How much do we instruct her? Very very little. I’m domestically useless and very relaxed and she has been a ‘helper’ (the preferred phrase) for 30 years so she does an awesome job without much instruction. The only thing I’m neurotic about is food hygiene and she’s pretty good with that. Lots of people have very young helpers or very specific needs, so I guess they do need to micromanage more.

How well do I know her as a person? I know about her family back home but it is definitely a professional relationship so I try not to pry. I do absolutely adore her though.

Do I think she judges me? Probably - I’m very forgetful, very untidy and quite silly, so yes.

Do I care? Not as much as my DH does, who won’t have an argument if she’s in ear shot.

Does she come from an underprivileged country? Yes. We try to make life as happy as we can here for her, although I acknowledge it’s no compensation for being away from her family.

Will answer the rest later but will add that I’m also British (and raised working class - not even middle class) and am still ridiculously apologetic even though i’ve had help at home for over 2 years!

Maryjoyce Fri 14-Dec-18 03:32:40

I too have a domestic helper though sounds like she’s much younger

jessstan2 Fri 14-Dec-18 03:59:22

Good for you. I had a nanny-housekeeper who did not live in. Worked very well.

Expatworkingmum Fri 14-Dec-18 04:31:56

More answers -
Does she speak English? Perfect English

Do we eat with her? No. She’d be very welcome but I doubt she wants to eat dinner with her boss any more than the rest of us. If we go out for dinner we always offer for her to join us but she always declines.

Is she like family? To my daughter, absolutely. To my husband and I, less so, although we are very fond of her.

Working hours - almost all helpers work Monday - Saturday with Sundays off. We only have one child who is actually out the house between about 9 and 5, so she is completely free to do as she chooses in that time. Her responsibilities within those hours are the cooking, cleaning and laundry. If that’s done, I don’t mind what she does at all. The biggest luxury for us is that we can go out in the evening whenever we like. If we do this, it’s after we’ve put our child to bed so there’s nothing really required from my helper.

Pay: Helpers generally earn somewhere between around £220 and £400 a month. Wealthy families may pay more. We pay in the upper range of that. Do note though that all bills, food, accommodation, visits home and medical care is taken care of by the employers.

Their own families: this is different for everyone. Some have kids, some do not. Legally we must provide a visit home every 2 years. We provide at least yearly. Helpers are sent home if they get pregnant and can no longer work here (not a concern for us as she is older).

Do I feel uncomfortable with my privilege? Not day-to-day as we really do strive to make sure she’s happy and comfortable. If I do give any instruction I’m always super polite, apologetic and grateful. That said, some people do not treat their helpers well and that, as a concept, makes me very uncomfortable.

How did we find her? She was recommended by a friend, although there are many agencies etc for hiring help.

Where do we live? Asia (sorry to not give specifics - bit funny about what I put online).

How much space does she have to herself? The whole apartment during the day and her own small bedroom. She also has access to our office which has a sofa and TV, to relax as she chooses as long as we aren’t working in there. She never takes us up on this though.

Mummyoflittledragon Fri 14-Dec-18 04:39:26

Crikey I could never cope with that. Dh and I did the expat thing prekids. Only in Europe. I worked PT and studied / learnt the language. But I didn’t get a cleaner or anything.

The ambassador of Sierra Leone apparently rented one of the houses we lived in after we left. We redirected the mail but you never know perhaps the odd one got through wink. Sooooo when we visited my friend, on the pretence of this, we called round and asked if they could drop any mail off to a friends house round the corner. One of the staff members brought a letter round to my friends house on a silver tray, white gloves and all. We did chuckle.

flumpybear Fri 14-Dec-18 04:54:41

The wages you pay, is this a decent wage so she can support her own family, have savings etc? It is it minimum wage

Also does she have set hours or is she just on hand for whatever you want from her?

brookshelley Fri 14-Dec-18 05:24:16

@Expatworkingmum I'm in the same situation. We live in a country where nursery and daycare don't exist. If two parents work the only option is a domestic helper. I frankly love it and wonder how I will cope when we leave!

Stpancras Fri 14-Dec-18 05:30:04

Also expats, also have a helper.

Couldn’t imagine having someone live in when we arrived here 10 years ago, no can’t imagine life without her! We’ve had three helpers. One returned home and bought a now very successful clothes shop, we still video call her regularly. One got married and returned home to have her own kids. It’s an amazing privilege.

Johnnycomelately1 Fri 14-Dec-18 05:37:56

Most countries where helpers are common set a minimum wage- eg in HK it’s roughly $4500/month which is GBP450 but it doesn’t specify working hours other than that they must get 24 hours off in a 7 day period. This is separate to the minimum wage for locals which is c.$36/hr. Arguably if you’re a helper with a reasonable employer you are financially better off than a local and the minimum wage is an extremely good salary in the Philippines or Indonesia which is where the money ends up. The main problems with the system in HK are the fact that there’s no working hours set, ( so they could be working 20 hrs a day), very little labour protection ( can basically be terminated without reason) and that the recruitment agencies rip the helpers off with insane placement fees ( this happens in the Home country) In HK helpers have to live in by law which can be beneficial to them overall but can also make them more vulnerable if their employer is abusive.

A high percentage of HK helpers are in situations that meet at least one of the criteria of trafikking/forced labour ( typically debt bondage).

Another issue is that whilst the women have greater earning power in the migrant labour market this doesn’t translate to the men left at home picking up the domestic slack which often has negative consequences for children left in home country. The mother is almost being forced to choose between nurturing her child and not having them live in poverty.

My helper is in her fifties now and has been here since she was 24 ( with me for last 8) Her boys are grown and working in really good professional jobs in the ME because her salary put them through school and Uni. It’s worked out well for her family because her husband isn’t a total feckless waste of space so they’ve saved a lot and they also have a farm, but so many of these women go back with v little to show for it.

My personal view is that there’s no point in ending the saystem because that’s not what the helpers want but ending debt bondage needs to be a priority for both home country and destination country governments.

PrimeraVez Fri 14-Dec-18 05:58:51

We’re expats in the Middle East and we have a ‘helper’ although I call her our ‘nanny’ as 90% of her duties are child care related (we have a 2yr old and a 5 month old) We pay her the equivalent of about GBP 1200 a month and she works 5 days a week, 9 hours a day. Colleagues laugh at me for this as we pay her almost 3 times more than most. We can afford to pay that much and I would feel uncomfortable paying her less just because I could. To put it into context, she is a qualified nurse and we pay her 50% more than she was earning working 6 days a week.

In the last two years, she has bought land and built a house back home, paid for her mum to have a hip replacement and paid for full time home help for her elderly parents.

Expatworkingmum Fri 14-Dec-18 06:15:56

PrimeraVez - we don’t live on a high expat salary (in relative terms) but if we did, I would definitely do the sand. Fantastic that you pay so generously and have helped her so much.

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