I’ve bumped into adverts from people looking for house help in Facebook groups and sometimes they are brave enough to even state how much they are offering. These posts get so much engagement because why are we paying our help so little when they do so much?
How much is your convenience worth to you?
I get that you are tired from your 8-hour job that pays you enough to get house help. But how do you expect to have someone work more than 8 hours with only the weekend off and still pay them less than US$150? And you can’t, for two days, do what they do for five. And it’s YOUR home and YOUR kids. At your job you can’t be bothered to do things outside your job description but at home you have a maid doing the work of more than four people. The maid is the nanny, chef, cleaner and sometimes even the gardener. Do maids have extra hours in the day that we do not know about? And yet, when you have to sleep away from home, your job pays you overtime and per diem.
A friend of mine blew my mind the other day. She has weekday help and weekend help. I didn’t even know that existed. I just assumed madams must just suffer over the weekend. But you know what? She has the money to afford help all week round. You lot will just settle for “a maid from the rural areas” because they have nowhere to go over the weekend and you can work them some more. Some madams only allow the helper to have half of Sunday off. Atrocious! How would you like it if you only saw your family for a couple of hours in a week? And you are surprised when they ghost you and leave you high and dry. And of course they will steal your husbands, what time will she meet another man when she is always at your house?
What does the word help mean? See? You dunno. That’s why you think going 50/50 with a man is you being the helper we were instructed to be. You didn’t listen when we said “indoda must,” now look, indoda isn’t. And this is why you expect more from the workers than you are able to do in your own house. She must be awake before you and go to sleep way after you have just trying to get everything done. Where do you think she gets the super strength from? Why should she be the Proverbs 31 woman that you are failing to be?
When we were growing up, my mom had two helpers. One looked after us and the other looked after the home. Five kids were a lot for one person to manage, plus a house. Yes, the economy was much better then. But my thing is, if you can’t pay more, then have the helper do less. I can’t afford someone full time so I had to prioritise the chores I hate doing and hire someone to do them. She comes in twice a month (fortnightly).
Q: But Thembi, how do we pay more in this economy?
A: How you expect anyone to survive in the very same economy on US$150?
If you genuinely can’t bump the cheese up, think of some of the ways in which you can improve the working conditions for your helper. Give them less working hours. Do some of the chores yourself. Train your kids to pick up after themselves. Give the helper an extra day off. You can’t order champagne with the same amount you use to buy a supercool (freezit). Help is a luxury, and luxury is expensive. That’s why people in the diaspora are always looking for people from home to work for them because they don’t want to pay premium, first world wages.
The devil walks around like a lion looking for someone to devour but imimi, you walk around looking for someone to exploit. You are the Africans who sold other Africans into slavery. And yes, this includes people who use unemployed relatives as free labour, people who abuse makotis/murooras and people who think their house guests should help out around the house. Do you know what it means to be a guest?
PS: Like I said in the other blog post, stop having kids you can’t afford. This is why you aren’t paying teachers, maids what they are worth. An elephant must not be weighed down by the weight of its own trunk.