What do you ask help for?
What did you do this weekend? We caught up with friends and one conversation stuck with me in particular. Our fun friend Ms M has been travelling abroad every week since she started her new role earlier in the year. She comes home for 2, if she’s lucky 4 days a week. She loves working on this project and it sounds like an amazing career opportunity. Ms M made the decision to reach out for help when she’s at home. A decision criticised by some of the friends. But why?
Ms M is a consultant who works long hours. Although having cut down, there are the occasional weekends when she has to work. That doesn’t leave Ms M with much free time. Ms S still considered herself lucky. “Just imagine I also had to look after a family!”
When I met Ms M, she was already a consultant. Most of her job was local and she tried hard to maintain her salsa dancing routine on Wednesday and Friday nights. With the travel, that is obviously challenging and she’s tough choices to make. Do I meet my friends? Go dancing? Clean the house and prepare for the week ahead?
Ms M made a rational decision between time or money. She chose free time!
Ms M comes from a culture where cooks are very common. Her aunt recommended her a reliable and trustworthy cook who turned out to be something more. He looks after her health. While she roughly tells him what she likes to eat, the cook introduces her to new and more vegetables, controls the portions (overeating is such a common habit out here) and prepares little snack packs (she’s hooked on almonds at the moment).
The car wash guy
Out here, you’ll see guys cleaning the car in your drive way while you’re watching TV at home. They’re amazing. They have a technique where they’re using substantially less water than I’ve ever used in Europe or the US.
Until recently, I didn’t realise that getting your cash washed this way is only AED 120 (USD 32) for the entire month and you get it cleaned either every day or every second day. For those of you in Europe, this may sound lot and in comparison, it is. We get a lot of sand and leaving a car unwashed for a month is pretty much impossible. A regular trip to the car wash is about AED 40 (USD 11) and I can see the appeal. This is far more economical and she doesn’t spend time driving around just to get the car washed.
The dry cleaner
Having to wear formal office outfits, ironing is involved. Ms M isn’t the biggest fan of ironing (who is?) and decided to get her shirts and trousers cleaned and ironed. For her, it’s a double win. Her loads of laundry is now limited to underwear and weekend wear. She can quick hang them up to dry and fold them a few hours later. Her office outfits will be delivered to her apartment and she can either hang them up in her closet or pack them for the next business trip.
Although Ms M doesn’t spend much time at home during the week, she’s looking forward to a clean house. The floors will be mopped, carpets vacuumed, sinks and bathtub cleaned. She has changed from having the cleaner come every week to just every other week. One the one hand, Ms M decided that she didn’t mess up the place that much in a weekend and on the other, she had outsourced her ironing. For Ms M, it isn’t wasn’t about saving money. A cleaner here is very affordable. This decision was more about the need for help.
Now, Ms M doesn’t have children and it’s one of the areas most families hire help. Parents often ask a teenager from their circle of friends or from their neighbourhood to watch their children for a few hours. It’s an old tradition for a lot of teenage girls to earn some money on the side. Once the kids are in bed, it’s watching TV, checking their phone or maybe even studying for a test.
Out here, most families with more than one child have a maid who helps around the house and also looks after the kids. Having a trusted child carer gives parents some time for themselves which is so important. Remember: You can’t pour from an empty cup!
Other ways to hire help
There are different areas where you may require help. If you have an elderly parent, you may use some of these already:
- Window cleaner
- Food shopping (this may be supermarket that delivers the items for you)
- Driver (this may be your taxi, Careem, Uber driver)
- Virtual assistant
- Party organiser (if you’re holding a birthday party, wedding anniversary, etc)
- Travel advisor (if you’re travelling a lot or just don’t want to search 1,000 websites for the best deal)
Bartering for help
If you don’t have a lot of extra money, you could barter with your friends. Baby-sitting is one that immediately comes to mind. Give your friends some time off by having their kid over for a night. Or you and your friends go out together and all kids are in one house with the baby-sitter. Pay the baby-sitter extra to look after another child.
Batch cooking is also a good option. Whether you make 2, 4, 6 or 8 portions, it doesn’t take much to just add up. Meals like lasagne, casseroles or stews are very easy to double up the portions. Give your friend an extra portion for her family in exchange for something they did for you.
When do you seek out and ask for help? Do you distribute the different chores amongst your family or you also outsource? Can’t wait to read what you are doing.
Until next time,