Alrighty, another little “slice of life” post…I know I’ll probably get my head chewed off for this one, but Ive reached a point where I just MUST let the maid/nanny situation here be known as most westerners just wouldn’t believe it!
So of course, let me first state the obvious. I’m not AGAINST nannies and maids in general, but I think they are unnecessary in the vast majority of home situations here! Obviously there are some families where maids or nannies are really necessary like if both parents work full time in very stressful jobs and have kids and they want to be able to actually enjoy their children and not come home after working all day and then be stuck cooking and cleaning (esp if they can afford it!) or families where the mother or someone is very ill or has health problems and a maid is needed to assist in taking care of things, or the family has many children and one has health problems then obviously the nanny helps in those cases.
But, unfortunately this is NOT the general scenario. My take on it is that most people who have maids and nannies are…I donno, dare I say… plain lazy (ducks flying shoes)!
Also the whole maid/nanny thing has helped ensure that children grow up having NO responsibility, allowing women who generally don’t work at all, to basically just sleep all day and then wake up around 4pm to go out shopping and socializing and ofcourse individuals from *certain* countries are treated really, really poorly.
Before you jump on my case let me give you my feelings about why to ME it looks like this.
Having a maid here is as common as having a black abaya hanging in your closet! Almost everyone has one, even many Lebanese and Middle Eastern ex-pat families! In many cases having a maid = being well off! The house might look like crud, the family might actually be not very well off, BUT they will HAVE a maid!
Now, the average made gets paid around 1,000 riyals a month! Thats like less than $300 a month! Granted, the maid usually lives with the family, eats their food…but for toiling from sun-up to sun down and probably sending most of it to their home country…eeks thats nothing!
Generally religious Saudi and expat families try to get an Indonesian maid as they are Muslim, but families who dont care either way get Filipina maid. Generally Indonesians are paid a bit better, maybe even treated a bit better.
But, they are still maids! Anyway you slice it, they are maids! Now, ive spoken to some Saudi women and they have told me the reason why maids are so necessary is because most people have fairly big villas or houses and that the men want their houses to be spotless, plus they usually have a lot of guests over so having a maid ensures everything is clean and running smoothly. Well, to that I said, okay and, most of the families here are quite big so what about having the older children/teenagers help to keep the house clean? like you know, give 1 child a chore, another child another chore…etc etc. I got tsked on this suggestion and told that children shouldnt be cleaning, they should be playing/studying…thats what maids are for.
Um, yah. gee, my parents must of missed this advice when I was growing up because all the cleaning in the house was done by my mom and me…and yah, as a teenager I resented it. But as an adult, I’m thankful I did all those chores as it’s made me quite capable of doing things now, as an adult.
Also, maids are generally treated in a really gruff and rude manner! In some of the homes Ive been too, I was shocked to see the mother or the daughter yelling at the maid to do this, that, get this, get that. In one home I started to inquire about the maid, her schedule, everything, including how she is so fluent in Arabic. The response I got…oh these Indonesian maids are like devils! They come here and learn Arabic too quickly! They are devils.
Um, okay…gee, I wish I could learn a language that fast! My husband told me on the way home, well that just goes to show, the maid is probably extremely intelligent but because she was born poor couldnt live up to her real potential. So she’s a “devil” for being smart, savvy and becoming fluent in Arabic in only two years! *strokes chin*
Also in above house, it would have just been easier for the daughter who was yelling at the maid to get up, off the sofa and go to the kitchen and help her get everything instead of screaming for this, that…The entire time we were there, neither the mother or the daughter got up to get anything. It was pretty unfathomable to my husband and I. During one discussion one of the sons broke a glass and they all sat on the sofa screaming for the maid to come in and clean it up…did they bother to get up and start picking up the bigger chunks or make an effort to help? um…nope. I got up and helped the maid get up all the glass. I’m thinking to myself….this is unreal! I just didn’t feel comfortable having some poor girl crawling around at my feet picking up glass while I go on, drinking coffee and talking. It just doesn’t seem right.
So yah, having a maid essentially means the mother and the kids and of course the husband dont need to do anything around the house….which means the kids dont learn how to clean up after themselves! As adults they expect people to wait on them hand and foot. One evening a month ago my husband and I were in a Dunkin’ Doughnuts and a Saudi couple were sitting near us and the husband proceeded to bump his coffee off the table, onto the floor, wasting everything and breaking the cup. He just sat there and called for the guy behind the counter to come over and clean it up. he didnt apologize, he didnt try to help. He sat there whil the guy tried to clean up everything at his feet. Needless to say, dh and I were horrified.
Youd think given the reality that most women do NOT work and stay home…you’d think maids would not be necessary. After all, you’re home anyway. Whats so difficult about cleaning and doing the cooking and doling out chores to the kids? Its what moms around the world do. Yah, it does bite to clean day after day, and I hate cleaning as much as the next person…but it must be done. This has meant that women who don’t work have in turn nothing to do all day. Now, if your kids are all at school and yous maid is doing everything…what do you do all day? Hmmm…TV, shop, eat…hmmm? Many Saudi friends have told me that most women sleep allllllllllll day!
Expat women on compounds are not different! On our compound ALL the Lebanese and Palestinian women have maids and the maids do double duty as nanny. So not only do they clean all day but in the evening take care of the kids too! What do the women do…sit on each others porches and socialize while the maids/nannies run after their kids. One woman who I especially am not fond of will walk around the compound with her maid/nanny trailing 10 feet behind her carrying all her stuff to the pool. Going the mall is the same. It seems like they try to outdo each other with this stuff! Oh and dont get me started on how the lady downstairs screams at their Filipina maid all night. Poor girl. Oh and generally compound housing is pretty small so where they fit 5 kids, a maid and themselves is beyond me!
As far as maids are concerned…I just think they are extremely unnecessary!
Nannies are equally overused. If you go to the mall you see nannies, nannies, nannies everywhere!
When the parents walk around the 1-2 nannies they have trails after them corralling all their kids, in the eating areas the parents eat in quiet while the nanny/nannies are running after the kids, trying to get them to eat and maybe even eat themselves, OR better yet you see a young mother with all kinds of shopping bags in hands with a nanny trailing -yes trailing after her pushing a stroller with a baby in it! No wonder these kids grow up more attached their their nanny than to their parents! Its also not uncommon for these kids to know Indonesian or Tagalog fluently as children before becoming fluent in Arabic! They moms essentially hand over all child rearing to their nannies!
These are also not just rich families either, nannies are extremely popular and poorer families will make the maid do double duty. Although in one family we know, the mom told me the maid was “stupid and irresponsible” and couldnt be trusted with the children, so she cares for them herself. I thought…hey, smart maid! act stupid so you dont get stuck with the kids too!
Or better yet, you see mom with nothing in her hands with the nanny holding bags and holding a baby. Nice huh.
The whole nanny thing just makes me really, really sad. What kind of a mom is going to let someone else care for her kids and raise them? Ive heard from some Saudi’s that the extremely reliance on maids has made children feel alienated by their parents and has broken their bond. Its truly sad and heartbreaking…also because of nannies and the child having someone who caters to their every whim, many of the children with nannies behave really outrageous in public. The nannies cant scold them so kids run wild.
I’ll end this post here. I hope I haven’t offended anyone, but I just find the whole nanny/maid thing extremely heartbreaking and really sad. I just think they do more harm than good!
Argh, I wanted to add a few more thoughts…Since I wrote the above post while I was also cooking dinner, I forgot to add them in.
Recently I read an article here about a woman in Riyadh who was divoricing her husband because he could NOT afford to give her a maid and a driver? Apparently this woman was/is pregnant with the husbands child and have children from a previous marriage and when she married him specified in her marriage contract that he must give her a personal salary of 3,000 SR (like $800-900) and extra money for the salaries of a maid and a driver OR he would have to help around the house. Her husband who it seems is not well off was working and was unable to afford to afford these extra expenses was in debt to his family as each month he had to borrow to make ends meet. I guess eventually it came to a head where he just realized he could not afford all that! So she has divorced him stating that he hasn’t met his promises.
Hmmm, I shant say anymore because…geeze, i could write an essay.
I wanted to also add that it is possible to hire a maid or a nanny on an occasional use basis. like for example if both parents work stressful jobs and want someone to come in for a few hours every day to clean up or have a nanny come to watch the baby while the parents work, as an alternative to daycare. To me, that situation is rather ideal and is pretty win-win.
Okay, really I shall end here!