Help? Or not..

The husband and I have been thinking about whether we need help at home for a long time now.

Things are getting a lot more hectic now that Grandma is off on a holiday for the week with her friends. While we seem to cope just fine, this will be the longest that we’ve not had any sort of help with looking after them.

It will be all us and a lot of very frazzled nerves and worn down patience, with one less team member to tag out with.

As I sit with my bigger one in school and my younger one strapped to me fast asleep, I really wonder what it would be like to have some extra hands to just take care of all this child-rearing business and perhaps get a bit of my body and my mind back to myself in the process.

Plenty of mommas do without, and plenty more start the search for one the minute they find out that they’re expecting. But so far into the game, what’s it like to want to jump ship?

We are so blessed to have my mum already running around for us and coming over every other day to help with the kids and Lord knows she has better things to do than to deal with a tantruming 2 year old and a night owl of a 5 month old.

But she needs a break. I’m sure that she really wants to enjoy her silver years more and see spending time with her grandkids in a more leisurely light, rather than as the alternative caretaker.

So far, while she’s been gone, we’ve seemed to handle things rather well. I mean, we take care of both of them, bring them out, handle all the feeding, toileting, putting them to bed and all that other stuff, all on our own on the weekends anyway when Grandma handles her own stuff and goes out with her friends and all that.

I guess that I’m just complaining since I’ve become reliant on her to help take the edge off when I’m starting to lose my temper or just need a bit of time to myself.

Perhaps I’m getting a little bit resentful that the kids seem to always NEED me and I’m the only one who literally cannot be away from either one of them. Because I’m still breastfeeding, I guess it’s just natural that they would need me as some sort of crack – to soothe them when they’re fighting through their feelings and/or physiological reactions of the day.

My husband gets to skip off to work (although situation being what it is for him, that’s not quite much better), and my mum doesn’t HAVE to be around if she doesn’t want to.

I am torn to say whether it’s my choice to suffer like this or not. Kudos to all the ladies who are able to go clubbing one week post partum, and God only knows how they manage to separate themselves when they go back to work… But I couldn’t leave my children at home.

I’m blessed that at the end of the day, I found work that gives me the flexibility to have a choice.

Therein lies the other big dilemma I face though – since I’m at home and a working-from-home momma, I’m supposed to actual get stuff done right? A bit hard to manage when you have your kids running around your ankles and asking for your attention every other minute. With the younger one, it’s more like “DON’T PUT ME DOWN OR I’M GONNA… WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”

So yeah. How am I actually supposed to get anything done with all of that happening?

To all of your skeptics asking how I can possible say that when here I am writing this lovely long blog post. I’ll just say this – it’s Murphy’s Law. Like they have an in-built sensor for when Mommy is actually doing any sort of payable job. Every other time they don’t seem to care much about what I’m doing…

But yes, it’s another moral dilemma when you want to be at home and spending time with the kids but you are actually thinking about the work that you need to do at the back of your mind.

Having a helper around would definitely ease my mind that there’s SOMEONE with the kids while I take care of the necessary, right?

Actually, we’ve also got a lovely part-time helper who has been cleaning the house and doing the chores ever since we moved into the newly renovated apartment (close to 2 years now). Thanks to her, that’s another big suck of time that we don’t have to worry about as we deal with our little family.

So do we really need someone who’s going to be a full-time, live-in kind of support for us?

There are just so many things to consider when it comes to hiring a maid or helper, which I suppose is the more politically correct way of saying things.

There’s the expenses of having the hire one – I’ve been thinking about whether there’s a need to pay a total stranger sit in my house and play with my kids while I trudge off to work to earn money.

Will I be able to earn enough money to justify having that extra help? Couldn’t I just earn more money and not have the extra help?

There’s also the logistics of having a helper – read this.

Honestly, in this day and age, how many families have a whole room that they can set aside for their helper?

When we were growing up, we (both my hub and I), were blessed to live in homes that were a bit larger than the average HDB flat. There were even backrooms near the kitchen specifically designed for the hired help. Living in a landed property, the family could even extend the areas downstairs to include space for the help.

But now…?

You’re lucky if you can find enough space for all of your crap in storage, much less putting a helper in the house with you.

The biggest thing on our minds when we were talking about this, was that even though there are some pretty crazy deals for monthly wages of a helper in your home – we’re talking like $300 a month for hired help, and that we could potentially just let the helper sleep with our kids or take over the store room, is that really something we would want to do to someone who you’re going to trust to look after your family?

There are some pretty awesome stories, both nation-wide and amongst our family and friends – helpers who’ve worked in Singapore with their family of choice, all the way to retirement at age 60, my husband’s old helper who actually got sent to Shatec and learnt how to be a patissier….

These days it’s more likely to see some families being irrationally demanding and perhaps the helpers come more educated about what they can and can’t ask for in their new employment contracts.

But what I think is important, is that you’ve got to treat your helper like a real PERSON. With the privacy and decency that you would expect for yourselves even.

Sure there are a lot of maids out there who DO steal, or bring back boyfriends when their employers are out of town; there are the ones that abuse and beat up their charges when they think that their employers aren’t looking but actually have a secret nanny cam installed, there are the ones that run away or get pregnant… But surely, for every bad one, there’s a good one that just needs to be nurtured right?

I guess with all the factors out there, we are a bit loathe to rock the boat – to let a stranger into our house and worry about whether the person can be trusted or not, to spend that extra money, to let someone else take care of the kids when it’s our job….

In any case, I figure that by the time the kids start going to primary school, they won’t really need a secondary care taker anymore then right?

I just regret the opportunity to invite someone into my home and bring them to church though. My mum has brought a couple of her helpers to Christ just by having them follow us to church on Sunday mornings and to attend the Filipino or Indonesian fellowships there.

Perhaps one day when the situation improves, we can revisit this again and in any case, God has a plan for us and the people who come through our doors even if we can’t see what’s happening in the future yet.

Who knows, the circumstances may change when we follow where He leads us.

As long as we remember that our hearts have to be in the right place when it comes to taking care of this person who takes care of our kids, I’m sure we’ll do fine if we go down that route.

For the time being, we’ll manage. We have to… And we’re counting down the days til Grandma comes back.

T -7 days,
Jess

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