Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maids and children...

Just read the following post on Mr Wang's blog. Do we need maids? Yes and no. Yes if we want to have more time watching TV, meeting our friends and going out for movies. No if we try and use part-time maid and childcare. There are stay home mums who have maids who help out simply because they want the tai-tai lifestyle. I agree that some people have a real requirement as they have elderly parents as well as young children but most get used to having a maid they don't know when they should stop. More often than not they continue having a maid because they are used to the lifestyle.

Then we have the problem of young married couples who move far away from their parents or are too old to help out. No elders to look for when they need help in taking care of their kids. Gone are the days whereby we have 3 generations staying in one unit. I need 6 bedrooms to house 3 senior citizens, 2 kids, the two of us plus another baby coming soon. And 2 poodles. HDB doesn't have anything that is suitable for me (and I can only keep 1 dog). I'm lucky we managed to get 2 private units in the same block at a low price but I suspect many people out there don't live together simply because it's too small. If everyone can stay together then the old can take care of the young and vice-versa when the time comes. Yet it seems like units are getting smaller and smaller.

No maids for us now as my mum promised to look after the baby for us. Then there's my uncle and mother-in-law staying with us as well. The kids are old enough to take care of themselves. We do have a part-time maid who come in once a week to clean the toilets and iron the clothes (most of the family hate ironing). Apart from that we tend to do things ourselves. MIL cooks, my mum mops, uncle fixes things, N walks the dog and D is the errand boy. My job now is to take care of my 38wk wife and her job is to stay comfortable. Maid for us when I go back to the workforce? I think no...

Then there's the mentality which is the biggest problem with our low fertility rate. It is not uncommon to hear of Malay families with 4-5 kids. And more often than not they stay in 5-rm HDB flats, all 3 generations under one roof. I understand they have free tuition and other assistance courtesy of Mendaki. The Chinese... Well we are too busy saving up for rainy days or that big 21-day North America trip because everyone else has done it. There will never be enough money...

End of the day, the biggest worry on would-be parents will be job security. What if I lose my job tomorrow? Can I still give my child the best education? Will he go hungry? Many choose to play it safe by not having any at all...


Joyce said...

We have friends in Hong Kong who have no kids, but full-time, live-in amahs.
I've always wondered -- what do the amahs do? All of these people live in flats, not houses, so cleaning can't take THAT long.
All of them work in offices and, presumably, eat at least 2 meals a day outside the home. It doesn't take that long to make a breakfast and a dinner.
I think you're right about people getting used to one lifestyle.
I know overseas Chinese who did their own housework in America, but who now "can't survive" when their poor amah takes her one-week-a-year vacation.
Another person actually returned a pet cat they'd bought because their amah quit and they couldn't imagine ever having to scoop kitty litter.
But, as you say, some people do need amahs.
Like a young working couple with a baby and no nearby relatives.
Full-time working moms like that really do need the help.

WhiteDuskRed said...

I used to have a colleague who stayed in a 400sqft (actual) apartment with a maid, 2 small kids and her husband.

Necessary? Yes.
Cramped? Hell yes!

And she was already staying in Yuen Long. Moving to Wanchai to a similarly sized apartment cost more than twice as much but there are the good schools and accessibility advantages.

Lifestyle, cost of living, property prices... They all adds to the equation...

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