I learned the importance of having a 保姆 bǎo mǔ or an 阿姨 āyí (literal: “auntie”) when I came to China. I have only been having an 阿姨 āyí for the past few years since I have been taking care of the kid(s) myself.
Having an 阿姨 āyí is not too much hassle because she helps with the the daily cleaning chores i.e.
- sweeping & mopping the floors,
- washing, hanging & folding the clothes,
- ironing the clothes (if she’s able to),
- wash the dishes
- and clean the bathrooms.
Since I do most of the marketing and cooking myself, I rely on the 阿姨 āyí only half the time. If she jumps ship (especially if she wants a higher pay or she wants to back to her hometown in the countryside), I don’t feel much of an effect other than to have a messier home.
When that happens, the Hubby chips in (and he doesn’t really mind it because he takes it as a calorie-burning activity and he also enjoying housework if he can see a cleaner, tidier home!)
However, when the second child came along, I finally relented and gave in to suggestions that I hire a 保姆 bǎo mǔ so that I could have a break once in a while because I would collapse to bed at 8.00 pm every night when I didn’t have one. Also, I would at least a back-up on the days I get my periods because I am crampy and dizzy on the first few days…
A 保姆 bǎo mǔ is different from an 阿姨 āyí because she is essentially a nanny or a housekeeper. In addition to household chores, she can:
- do the marketing
- cook lunch and dinner and
- care for your kids
Blogging about this, I remember my decision sometime back in Nov 2010 when I was introduced to a 保姆 bǎo mǔ. The family she’d worked with for 5 years had moved to a bigger city and she was looking for another family to work for. Back then, I was doing the cooking myself supported by my old 阿姨 āyí who comes in 3 times a week to do the cleaning.
When the 保姆 bǎo mǔ showed herself to be a capable lady and who is also loved by the kids, I debilitated on whether I should:
a) just hire her for mornings-only to do the cooking (8.00 am – 12.00 noon) and keep the 阿姨 āyí for the afternoons (2 – 5 pm) she was available
b) hire the 保姆 bǎo mǔ full time i.e. to also take on the household cleaning 3 times a week.
Since I was going back to work, I thought that juggling 2 maids would be madness especially since both of them would need to change shifts at 12 pm or 1 pm and be responsible for the baby.
But then, I had a biting, niggling fear of depending entirely on ONE person because if anything happened, I would need to find someone else.
When the 保姆 bǎo mǔ showed herself to be capable, dependable and responsible, I decided that it would be best for the kids to have only one lady helping out around the house.
Guess what? My worst fear have come true.
My 保姆 bǎo mǔ announced that her husband has been given the business opportunity of the lifetime thus her whole family is moving away to a bigger city!
I should have suspected that something was up because she’d:
a) mentioned that her relative suggested a business proposition after the Spring festival but she was reluctant to accept it since her son is still in school and
b) kept getting phone calls the past few weeks. I’m not the type to pry so I casually asked if anything’s wrong but she said that something’s up and that it’s something good.
How was I to know that they were going to move away??? In a week’s time!!!
I was naturally upset when she announced it to me. It would have been OK if I was still a housewife but now that I actually have a job, it is quite a big blow.
She tells me that her relative is willing to take her place and that she is just as capable in doing the housework and also taking care of the baby. But I am worried sick, which explains why I’m still up at 3 am because the biggest question is:
- Can she be trusted with the baby?
I don’t care about anything else because they are all minor details. Since we frequently hear cases of 保姆 bǎo mǔs running away with the kid in their care or other equally insane acts, you can imagine how scared I am. How can I even think of going to work when my 保姆 bǎo mǔ leaves?
Interestingly, she tells me that I need not worry about kidnapping because the Chinese are not interested in baby girls! Hmm…is this supposed to make me feel better?
She assures me that her relative is just as clean, capable and “decent” as she is but then, this lady has been spending all her time at home. Her kid is already 20 years old. She cannot iron and is not that willing to learn.
I know I shouldn’t jump to conclusions but I am wary of her especially after my experience with the previous lady.
For a month, I had a so-called 保姆 bǎo mǔ who is also clean, kind and caring. Unfortunately, she’s so out of touch with caring for a small child that she got quite impatient with my baby girl. She was really rough with her!
Furthermore, she was as dumb as a cow that she made the house even more messier than before she came! I was so stressed having her around that I was thankful to hear she didn’t want to be a 保姆 bǎo mǔ anymore.
I am so mad that I have let myself fall into the trap I’d be so afraid of a few months ago! My old 阿姨 āyí is of course now fully engaged to clean other people’s homes.
Now, I wonder if I’ll have to quit job? Until then, I am checking around with friends too while I wait to meet her relative and friend next week. Grr!!!