Monday, 16 March 2015

The Pros and Cons of Live-in Help

Just like anything in this dual universe, having live-in help has two sides. Having lived 21 years
of my life in five-star hotels with housekeeping and room service, ten after that by myself with
some domestic help, then another five years totally alone, I found this topic to be of interest.

Throughout my life, I have known people living in mansions with half a dozen help to serve them
as I have known others who never had any. I have equally known some of the help themselves. 

When I was living alone in Egypt, someone came twice a week for a few hours in the morning,
and it was more than enough. For a man in his 20s, this was highly convenient.

In Canada, in bigger households the cleaning people usually come once a week. I never hired
any when I was living there and I was doing all the work myself, for the first time in my life. It
was a tiny place anyways.

 The same can be said about living in the U.S later.

But, cleaning people usually don't cook. Many of the live-in help do the whole thing.
Sometimes people would have different ones for different tasks; from cooking, cleaning,
laundry and taking care of the children. This is often found in the Gulf area where most,
if not all, of the domestic help are expats. They are usually from India, The Philippines, Sri
Lanka, Bangladesh, or Ethiopia. Obviously, they are paid in dollars.

In Egypt, it's common to have domestic help, though they are mostly Egyptians. Those who are
better off — no more than a meagre 1% of the population — may have foreign help like Africans
or Asians.

That said, I decided to weigh out the topic and examine the pros and cons of having a domestic
live-in help. The following is what I came up with.

The Good Stuff

    1- You don't do many things around the house (Duh).

    You have more time to play, relax, work and study. 

    3- You're mentally chilled so you don't fight or obsess as much and you lead a more quite life.

    4- Great as caregivers for babysitting kids and the elderly, which are both a blessing for adults.


It may be easier or more convenient to let someone else preoccupy themselves with the daily, and somewhat trivial, tasks like choosing what to eat for example, knowing the help are aware of your likes and dislikes. 


Whether you mean it or not, you develop a human bond with the help. Someone living at the same house as you, somehow, and especially after years, they become like family. We still have ours, Bassima, and it's been 35 years. Now that I think about it, she was not a maid or a nanny, but she was actually like a second mother to my sister and I — very kind and loving. So one could say that the advantage is the possibility of gaining a new kinship.

    The Bad Stuff

    1- You end up by not knowing, or possibly forgetting, how to do many things around the house.

    2- You're mostly counting on others to eat, dress, for cleanliness — basically to live.

    3- No real privacy.

    4- You sort of detach from your own house as you let someone else ‘run’ it for you.

    5- You don't get to experiment as much like if you have the house all to yourself; whether by getting creative with cooking, remodeling the furniture or redesigning your interior. Because you're mostly relying on someone else. 

    6- You don't experience the meditative properties of some house work and their calming effect on us. They exist, by the way. Remember how Miyagi was teaching the Karate Kid how to paint fences and wax cars.

    7- Kids have the potential to pick up habits from the help if they happen to be assuming the role of the nanny; some may be good, others, bad. Distorted language and certain accent are some of the things I have personally noticed.

    8- A distance may develop between the kids and the parents, in case it's the nanny's responsibility to take care of them and they spend most of their time with her.

    Having a person live in your house to help you is a big matter. In some stages in life, the help could be quite useful, like the case with young parents and the elderly. In others, they may not be needed and we can, maybe even should, do without them.

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