Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Have a Houseboy (Guilt Free)

 Yes, I have a houseboy.  Yes, he does come 5 (sometimes 6) days a week for 4 hours a day.  No, I don't feel guilty about it.  And yes, it took me 6 months to be able to say that statement.

See, it is easy to judge from afar those of us that live overseas and have house help.  I did.  The concept of a houseboy, gardener, nanny, cook are so foreign and those of us in the States that do have help have to pay and arm and a leg for it.  I know that back in the States I would have someone clean for me once or twice a month and I paid $100 for each cleaning.  To have daily help would be impossible.  Now, the help is available, houseboys are knocking on our door eager to work.  And, it is cheap!  I pay my houseboy about $275 for the month.  That's it.  How could I pass that up?  I'll admit that there are times I look on Facebook or blogs back home and see friends struggling to get it all done from working to taking care of the kids and having to follow it all up with the daily housework.  I feel guilty to tell those friends that I have hired help that comes in every day of the week day and does ALL of the things I don't like to do and some things I never thought of doing and even does the chores I like to do but can't find the time to do them.  It is hard to admit that my life is now different and my housework load has gotten easier BUT that is one reason why we choose to move overseas!  We wanted a different, easier, more laid back like.  And hired help is part of that equation. Life here IS different and I can't feel guilty for that.  Living away from family and friends has its plus and minuses and having help is one of the plus sides.  And it is a plus side that I am using to my advantage.
Part of the internal conversation I have had with myself to justify having house help is how valuable is my time to me.  Do I really want to spend my few precious hours of free time or Friday (our "Saturday") morning cleaning OR do I want to go for a run, write a blog post, sit outside in quiet, take my kids to the beach, bake some goodies for friends, make a yummy homemade dinner for my family, and the list goes on.  To me, my time is worth more than $3 an hour.  And on the same token, those $3 an hour provide A LOT for a family back "home" in India.  Is this a charity case?  No, I'm not saying that.  However, I do feel it is a good symbiotic relationship where both of us benefit from it.

Are the above pictures real before and after?  YES!  This was after a busy night of a homecooked meal, homework, soccer, AND Boy Scouts!  I was exhausted and didn't have energy to clean when I got home.

Do you always leave your house a wreck for the houseboy?  No!  I try really hard to make sure he doesn't feel we are taking advantage of him.  When I can, I pick up dishes, toys, start laundry.  Help.

Do you tip him good?  Not really.  Does your boss tip you for doing your job?  His job is to clean.  if he has to spend all 4 hours in the kitchen that just means he doesn't get to the rest of the house.  Which also means I need to think about how I want him to spend his time at my house.  When I have him come extra, I pay him extra.  I also offer him food and treats.  And we do give bonuses for birthdays, holidays, etc.

Is he part of the family?  Not really.  Some people have a "family" sort of relationship with their houseboy.  I honestly just started talking to mine.  He has been with us for 3 months and I was gone for the beginning of it.  His English isn't great which makes it hard to have much of a conversation however I do try to ask him about his family back home.  My kids know him and greet him.  I think as he is with us longer we will all be more comfortable with each other.

Do I want more help?  Yes!  For an extra $100 a month we can have a "nanny" that is with us 10-12 hours a day 6 days a week!  That would be nice especially when I have an appointment or need to take Owen to Boy Scouts or Brad and I want a date night.  The more I get use to expat life the more I want to jump in and experience the WHOLE thing!

Yes, I have a houseboy and NO, I don't feel guilty about it!

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