Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Nanny Diaries

We are on the market for a new housekeeper.

One of the best things about living abroad - or at least, about living in hardship countries - is that we can afford to hire household help.  I struggled with this for an entire year in China.  Arriving in the foreign east with two children under the age of two, I needed help.  I felt guilty about needing the help, and about being able to afford the help, and so I didn't hire anyone.  But lets be honest - plenty of moms need help.  It takes a full 7 hours to clean the house we live in right now, and its filthy again in less than a week.  I am fully capable of doing that work, but I will be much happier if I spend my time somewhere else.

And here's the best part.  We are paying well if we pay a housekeeper $10 a day.  That is United States dollars.  Ten of them for a full day's work.

So, we are in the market for a housekeeper.

We arrived in Venezuela in January, and I immediately hired Mariluz.  She loved Annika and she cooked well, but she didn't like taking instructions or advice from me.  She was rude, and so she had to go.  Soon after, we found Blancina.  She cleaned extraordinarily well and I enjoyed her company.  She showed no real fondness for Annika, but she kept her safe and happy.  But we exhausted her.  She fell in the rain, was sent to physical therapy, and seemed glad of the need to leave our employ.

We just went without after she left. 

Until now.  Now its time for a new housekeeper.

A friend sent over her housekeeper last week, just to give the house a thorough cleaning.  And then yesterday, we interviewed Viviana.  She seemed to want the job, but she didn't seem very happy about it.  She made a face when we told her how big the house is, and she said she has never worked with children before.  We gave her a shot today.  She spent most of the day cleaning the room that we were in, which was a bit awkward, and she rarely moved any furniture to get underneath it.  She didn't talk to anyone all day, but the kitchen was spotless when she left.  About an hour later, I got a phone call from an acquaintance who had employed Viviana earlier.  And fired her.  We had a nice little chat, and after Viviana finishes ironing the laundry tomorrow I will send her on her way.

After that first year in China, I decided to join the crowd and hire a helper.  We hired Wendy, and Wendy became an integral part of our household.  I missed her when we left her, because she was my friend.  I miss her now because she was an amazing housekeeper.  This search is challenging, because I am looking not only for someone who cleans better than I do and amuses my children, but also someone who can fit into my household.  Annika and I spent much of the day at home, and a person who helps us should not also make us feel uncomfortable.  All these things you can not learn in an interview, so we will be cycling through housekeepers this month.  I have no interest in hiring someone only to fire them after 4 miserable months, and so we will cycle.

But I must admit.  Even with a brand new and rather uncomfortable housekeeper in the house all day, I feel more relaxed this evening than I have all week.

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