I’ve talked before about the stresses and downsides of having a helper and all the ways it failed for me, particularly as someone who has no prior experience managing someone in that sort of situation.
Our family has decided not to employ a maid. Today, though, I’m going to talk about a downside to having made that choice.
Since we returned from the US this past January our family has been hit by wave after wave of illness. My blog has been dark for the past two weeks because I got hit by a nasty case of tonsilitis that took three antibiotics and a course of steroids to clear up. Today I’m home with a sick Elanor.
We are lucky that GNB allows Ravi a few days of “emergency child care.” We took advantage of that last year when I was hospitalized and we were waiting for my in laws to arrive. This year we’ve had to take advantage of at least one day because of my tonsilitis.
When a child gets sick, I can stay home and take care of them. When Ravi gets sick, he can stay home and take care of himself (although I might make his doctor appointment/drive him to a doctor appointment). When I become sick, things begin to unravel. But when both Ravi AND I get sick, it is a disaster.
- No backup support–When I get sick, I often have to power through my illness (barring serious illness/hospitalization). Ravi can drop the girls at school, and in some cases–like when I feel too ill to drive–he can grab Elanor on his lunch break and bring her home. The benefit of having a five year old is that she CAN keep herself occupied in the living room with the television and her toys while I rest/sleep in the bedroom. But when Rhiannon is done with school, if he brings her home, either he has to have an early night (he typically works much later) or I have to suck it up and parent until bedtime. If we had a helper, I would have that extra pair of hands for helping kids get to and from school, child care, and feeding the kids.
- Help cleaning–When kids are vomiting and beds are getting changed it would be helpful to have someone else doing laundry and trying to keep up with the related cleaning. It’s difficult for me to do that when my sick kids want to be attached to me physically/in my lap. Along with that, it would be helpful to have support in disinfecting the house.
- Help with cooking–When I’m sick, the idea of cooking makes me nauseous. When one child is sick, I still need to feed the other.
- Sometimes delaying treatment–This was the most serious case of tonsilitis I’ve had, but it was the straw that has broken the camel’s back. I need to have my tonsils out (not open for debate-let’s avoid medical advice in the comments). While the hospital stay will only be one night, I will need 10 days to two weeks to recover. During a lot of that, I’ll be in pain and not in any shape to parent. I’m going to need to delay this surgery until my in-laws next visit Singapore, or Ravi will need to sacrifice a significant portion of his annual vacation time to take over the household while I recover.
- Dealing with serious medical issues–When I tore the disc in my back last year I ended up hospitalized for over two weeks (over two stays) and was very limited for about two and a half months. We were lucky that my in-laws were able to fly in and help out for that time. Had they not been able to, we would have likely needed to hire someone. Given that I now have two consecutive discs that are permanently damaged, I have to take care with my back, which means support would be helpful.
These are short term problems. They are manageable. But it is a source of stress and a difficult time–especially when you’re dealing with a longer term series of illnesses. It gets exhausting. I’m lucky in that my partner can provide more support–if he traveled frequently for work, or could never provide help we would have to reassess what would make sense for our family.
Not having a maid is a deeply personal choice. There are benefits to not having a maid. There are benefits to having a maid. There are downsides to having a maid. And there are downsides to not having a maid.
Best of luck in your choices.