Save money, pay your maid less

This is advice I have got often, and from women. You are paying your maid too much. Cut down.

My financial woes are no secret. Also it is no secret that I am hoping to move from “can’t-make-ends-meet” to saving enough money to move out. Work in progress. I have reasonably well off relatives, some of them with flats sitting empty who ask me with great concern where I will go and how I will live if I move out. My own parents harassed me right back to my married home when I got the guts to leave last year.

Today, another such person “speaking for my own good” told me that there was no need to pay the maid so much and that she hardly did any work. She was referring to:

  • I let her do less work is she is tired – often cleaning floor is on alternate days. I see no reason to just make her work whether the house is untidy or not.
  • I feed her almost daily.
  • I often have her kids over.
  • She spends a lot of time playing with Nisarga and taking him on walks.

Apparently this means I am pampering her.

I explained to her:

  • Her services are used by both me and my son. After she has done dishes, sweeped, mopped, she spends an extra hour doing whatever is needed. And I do mean whatever. Be it drying clothes, tidying room, kitchen, chopping vegetables, kneading dough, running errands, taking care of Nisarga…. whatever. The extra payment is for her time and support. Not for specific services. And she does that wonderfully.
  • I don’t ask her to help me with the house if Nisarga is awake, because he absolutely adores her, and wants her to take him out on walks.  want him to get her time as much as possible because (a) he loves it. (b) she is superb with him (c) Much as I love the little sweetheart, I need to get at least some time without having to drop anything I am doing the minute Nisarga calls.
  • I offer food to her, because I have it. She does not force me to feed her or demand. I ask her because I have worked hard too, and I know how hungry one can get after putting in a couple of hours of work. Being hungry is not a sin, feeding another is not a sin. there are no compulsions either way.
  • Contrary to the belief that “I feed her”, it is also often her bringing over something delicious she made or once from another place she works at (party got cancelled, she got about a kilo of freshly purchased fish!). It is mutual. If I feed her more, it is also because the location is my house, so my food is around more often.
  • Taking a kid outside for a walk three times in an hour is not “doing nothing”. It can be freaking exhausting, particularly since Nisarga is often stiff and difficult to carry. If it is, Nisarga would be happy to test drive her a few days and see if she is able to even do nothing.
  • Her kids spending time at our place is also good for Nisarga and they are no trouble. I even enjoy learning with them.

This can go on and on. The fundamental issue here is an inability to respect.

  • Nisarga is a kid, so his needs are not important. They should not guide my choices. Particularly on paid services.
  • The maid is a servant and her effort has no worth.
  • If the maid looks happy, that means she is getting a deal she does not deserve. <– the inhumanness of this takes my breath away.
  • As a mother, I am somehow inferior to outsource mothering for money [says the woman whose kid always went to day care – even after school]

The maid and I are friends. I pay her to work for me and that makes neither of us superior or inferior to the other. I will miss her dearly when I move. On her part, she is planning to move to our new area – including taking kids out of school and enrolling to new school, because she treasures the time she spends here. I will unhesitatingly hire her if she does that.

And what is this phenomenal sum of money causing such a raging debate? The maid’s last payment was Rs.2,300/- This is two tasks – sweeping+mopping and doing the dishes for Rs.600/- each – the local union rate in our area. And an additional hour of whatever is needed for Rs.1,100/-. I don’t think this is unreasonable at all.

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4 thoughts on “Save money, pay your maid less”

  1. It is strange, isn’t it, that while we expect ‘bonus’, ‘payhike’, ‘better working conditions’ from our employers, we just overlook these when it comes to our maids/drivers etc. I face similar dilemma too. People see the extra money that we pay our watchman and the maid. The extra work that they do – it doesn’t count.

  2. kudos to you!
    you are doing right ignoring the well meaning advice from others. you should pay in proportion to the value you receive and the market forces of demand/supply. That’s all there is. Domestic helps often get a very unfair deal in urban homes but they continue with this arrangement as they have no choice. (i say “domestic help”, not “maid”, as the latter term has feudalistic/misogynist origin in middle-age Europe)

  3. What you are doing is fine and you are lucky to have that kind of support hope your next maid is as good ! Pay no more attention to the comments received other than a polite ” is that so ?” 🙂

  4. Whether you are paying your maid too much is something between you and your maid. I will not comment on that. I will only say that I like your progressive thinking. In India, if a maid is looking happy, we tend to feel she is “taking advantage” of us, so we try to pile on more work on her. How mean is that!!!

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