Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another Thing about Kids & Household Chores {& Maids}

I wrote the thing about kids and household chores is that you have to keep it fun so that they will be interested to help out. But here is another thing - do you actually let your kids do housework??

I am not sure if it is a cultural thing, but it is very common in Singapore, and other countries in this region like Malaysia and Hongkong, to engage maids or to be politically correct, domestic helpers, for household chores. It is probably due to the low cost of hiring one, and because it is a cycle. You grow up with a maid in the house, and naturally you think one is indispensable when you start your own family.

In Singapore, a maid is usually a foreigner because a lot of Singaporeans don't take up the job. Much like our construction workers and rubbish cleaners, a lot of these kind of jobs are outsourced. These maids usually come from Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar and depending on a family, their job scope includes taking care of the young ones and elderly, cleaning, cooking, laundry etc.

We do not hire help at our household because for one, I don't like strangers living in my home, and for another, I do not really see the need for one. Yes, the messy condition of our house might prove me wrong, but that's something I can live with. I cannot live with, however, Lil Pumpkin to growing up being waited on hand and foot, thinking that she can lord over another being to do chores which she can complete with her own little strength.

This is not a generalisation to say that all children who grow up with maids are lazy. No, but I have seen little children shouting at their maids in public, ordering them to pick out the vegetables from their food, or feeding them while they play with their nintendo games. This is wrong behaviour and I do think the parents should do better to teach them right, but maybe the parents are too busy to even notice. Or even worst, they might think it is proper behaviour.

Remember the debacle about an army recruit caught with his maid carrying his army pack? It is so disgraceful and certainly something that made the nation sit up and take notice of that this may be the kind of generation we are raising {there are some funny spinoffs from that picture btw}

This post is not about whether I support hiring maids, or not. It really does all depend on your family conditions, which nobody knows better than you. If you think you need help, go right ahead and get it. I'm writing to support kids being involved with housework. Personally, I think doing simple household chores is beneficial to young children. To teach them responsibility, life skills, goal-setting and it is also a time of bonding & spending time with them... It really is not "child-labour" but something that will help them in the long run.

So do you let your kids do housework? If you have a maid, how do you balance the help and preventing your kids from growing up spoilt?


EssentiallyJess said...

We don't have maids over here, but we do have cleaners, which I think are very different. They come for a couple of hours a week, and clean the house and that's it. (not that I have one!)

I'm all for kids learning how to run a household. A wise friend of mine once told me that our jobs as mothers is to work ourselves our of a job; that is teach our kids everything they need to know about looking after a household, so that they can do it themselves.
Also, children yelling at their maids? That just shows a disgusting lack of respect for other people, and is truly appalling!

tahlia @ the parenting files said...

getting kids to help out is a must in my house. doesn't have to be "chores" but putting things away once finished playing with them and helping in some way is always great lessons!

Little E will put things in the bin when I ask her. I love it! xx

tahlia @ the parenting files said...

hmmm... did my comment come up... not sure, so ill write again in case ;)

helping is always a must in our house. Even if it is just helping putting toys away once finished playing with x

Anonymous said...

I definitely have my kids help out with chores!! I grew up in the Midwest US, and everyone in our family helped growing up. My mom was from a big farming family, and everyone grew up helping... I'm just continuing tradition, I guess!

Madeline Heng said...

Learning simple chores is important, I agree with you. I'm not intending to have a maid too cos I also don't like having to be responsible for one more person in the house!

Aroha @ Colours of Sunset said...

that is really interesting to read about different cultures and I think good on you for not having one! I think I would be very tempted! Nick loves helping with housework and wants to do everything. They instill this in him at kindy. to an extent I let him help, and hope that he will always want to. he'll prob grow out of it in 5 years or so!

Jay said...

My girls help around the house. I don't give them regular chores to do, but they do lend a hand when I need it.

We'll be hiring a cleaner to come in regularly quite soon, but the girls will still be expected to do their share to make her job easier.

dMarie Michael said...

What a charming blog. I'm your newest follower!

Misha - TheBlingBuoy said...

My kids seem to really enjoy helping out with the cleaning so I let them. Plus it teaches them for when they (eventually!) leave the nest! We try to make it fun. :)

Stacy said...

Ahh another person after my own heart. :) I totally agree with the bit about kids lording it over maids these days. JE is starting to talk and sometimes says 'Kakak! Wash!' after finishing her bowl of food. It rings a small alarm bell for me, but I figure I still have time to go the right way. For now NOT having a maid isn't an option coz I send her to my parents in the daytime and a small child does make lots of mess. My dad used to go down on hands and knees to clean up the floor after my niece had dinner and I thought it wasn't fair to expect that of an ageing man.

Julie said...

I am the maid/ cleaner here! But, I do encourage my kids to help out. At the moment, they are responsible to help clean-up whatever toys/ books they take out themselves, to make their beds and put pyjamas away. They also help me with other odd jobs as I ask (e.g. setting the table, hanging and bringing in washing from a low line, putting their clean/ folded clothes away...

--andy-- said...

The whole idea of a helper is to help with family chores:

1)so that parents can spend more quality time with kids. Ironically, I see parents busy with own leisure and work related activities.

2)worse, when parents outsource "discipline and values upbringing" to helpers, something is wrong.

Personally, I believe kids should be involved in housework, hopefully they will appreciate parents' effort, and understand that nothing should be taken for granted.


Rhianna said...

i love the concept of a maid only because I struggle doing it all by myself and it is always nicer to have someone to work with. I do get my kids to help but they are young and still learning and sometimes it is easier to just do it myself

Ai Sakura said...

Jess: Yes we have part-time cleaners/helpers too. That's a very good bite of wisdom from your friend :)

Tahlia: Always good to start when they are young!

Beansmonkeybusiness: that's a good family tradition.. and nice when there's more hands to help out and share the load :)

Madeline: yes, plus a lot of "horror" stories involving children to think about. not enough time to cover in this post haha..

Aroha: let's hope he likes it so much he wouldn't grow out of it heh

Jayne: Do agree that a balance is needed...

DMarie: welcome dear! I've been over to your blog already ;p

Misha: yup, when they leave the nest these are life skills they will certainly need.

Stacy: Your girl is still young and she probably does not understand the tone of her voice yet heh. Btw, what's "kak kak"? Sister or aunt in Malay?

Julie: Aww they sound like wonderful kids :)

Andy: it is kind of weird to have helpers to take over the role of parents. in that case, why have kids??

Unknown said...

My kids are all expected to help out and do chores. I dont want them to grow up and not have any skills to look after themselves! Even my 2 year old has to pick up his toys.

I dont think I could have a maid live in..

Veronica @ Mixed Gems said...

Interesting to read your perspective. Having grown up part of my youth in Singapore, I am familiar with the whole concept of maids. I think most of my firends and relatives have them. I have cringed at times when I've heard the tone used with some maids. I can only imagine how that role models for the children. I think it is important that children learn to do some chores for themselves. It teaches responsibility. And if there is a maid, I'd hope to teach the children respect for another human being regardless of who they are.

Michelle said...

My kids are all encouraged to help with jobs. I want my kids to be domesticated when they leave home. Mr's 16 & 14 have regular jobs/chores they are expected to do.

The twins (aged 2) are learning to put away their toys at the end of the day.

No way I could have a live in maid, just wouldn't feel right.

Unknown said...

My children help out and do jobs around the house - it's part of being in a family and working as a team. I see too many teenagers with a lack of respect, and with an attitude that they deserve everything. I think a lot of that has to do with a lack of responsibility, which can be taught through household jobs. In saying that, some friends from South Africa really struggled when they moved to Australia, because the housekeeper/maid thing isn't really done here - and they didn't know how to do the tasks themselves AND raise their children!

Ai Sakura said...

Sarah: such simple, yet helpful skills to nurture too..

Veronica: You know how you can tell the character of a person by the way they treat the waiter? Think the same can be said by treating the maid too..

Michelle: I see your point :) Some maids are there to help just with the elderly or cooking.. but being too dependent on them is the worrying bit.

Debbie: yes it probably is a culture thing too. It is not common in Japan, and I realised in Aust too when I went over for uni. In fact, I was a little surprised to see that tradies were actual Australians, and not foreigners like over here! ;p

~Summer~ said...

Yes yes yes! Angel is helping me in very simple chores like putting the clothes into the washer, hanging them, taking a wet cloth to wipe the table etc. Start from young! It's not child labour AT ALL, it's one of the best ways to bond and they love it too by knowing they can help and act like mummy! =p

The Kam family said...

Hi, visiting your blog for the first time (thanks for leaving a comment on my blog :-))

Think it's a matter managing one's expectation and put things into priorities.

I heart you. I am a working mum with 2 young kids. No helper and we cook almost every night. We used to have a cleaner who came in once a week, but had stopped since a year ago (getting a cleaner helps a lot!). House could be cleaner and neater, but we can definitely live with the little messiness. My kids do "help" out with the chores, sometimes, esp washing dish (= playing with water). I have even let my boy helped me cut veg using a real adult size knife :-) But with 2 in tow now, have to take out all these dangerous stuff as I cannot keep my eyes on him/her 100%.

The saddest thing I saw in SG about having a maid - there was a family gathering, 2 full tables of people talking and laughing and eating in a restaurant. But on another table next to these 2 tables, sat a little boy with a maid, who was busy feeding the boy his food. He was totally left out from the family gathering as he took very long to finish his food. Don't know how he feels about it.

Stacy said...

Ai, 'kakak' means 'big sis' in Malay/Indonesia, like jie-jie. :) Traditionally used coz maids used to be mainly from Indonesia. We keep it coz the bigger kids were used to it, and it's a convenient/polite way to for them to call the maid.

Unknown said...

how can i prevent too dependent on maid

Ai Sakura said...

Weewong: Are you talking about for your kids, or for yourself?