Well, the talk before and after we got here was that all FSO families have household help because it’s affordable and you’re giving to the community by employing someone. I was on the fence as to whether or not to jump in and get household help right away. One big issue was whether or not we really could afford it even if it is affordable. We have a hefty mortgage back in the States that we’re contributing to, even with renters. Plus, having someone I don’t really know around the house feels kinda weird. And, I’ve been cleaning my own house for AGES so what’s the big hurry?
A preservation of sanity was probably the main reason for getting household help sooner rather than later. Our house is pretty big, and I found that when I wasn’t watching Matty, I was cleaning leaving very little time to learn French, scrap, or do any of the other projects I was hoping to start while here. Also, while I love Matty dearly and enjoy spending time with him, he wasn’t letting me do anything. He insisted on me sitting next to him while he played and would take away anything I had in my hands if I tried to do something.
So, we decided to get household help. The first person we hired (just for half a day) cleaned, cooked and would watch Matty (although she didn’t watch Matty that day). While it was weird to have a stranger in the house, I felt like such a bum having someone clean for me while I just sat around and did whatever I wanted to do. However, I realized quite quickly, “hmm…I think I can get used to this.” We ended up not hiring her because she was a bit expensive. In addition to her salary and transportation costs we were willing to pay (which was on the steep end anyway) she asked us that day if we would pay for her to have breakfast and lunch too. This put us way over the edge on our ability to afford her and I thought, “Heck, back in the States our employers don’t pay for our breakfast and lunch in addition to salary and transportation costs.” So, while I felt bad calling her the next day to tell her we couldn’t hire her, I didn’t feel too bad.
In the end we hired someone to come 4 days a week. She plays with Matty 3 days a week and cleans when he’s napping and cleans and does laundry the fourth day. She’s very good with Matty and she speaks French, Wolof (local language) and English. Some days we have to coax Matty to play with her because he just wants to be attached to me but having the freedom to learn French, contribute to this blog and scrap have been absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait until we have our car and I can go out and actually meet people and participate in some of the activities they have for spouses. I’m hoping to get more involved in John Philip’s school too.
And as for the weirdness of having a stranger in the house…as time goes by, Fatou becomes less and less of a stranger. And, I’m sure that by the time we leave here, she will probably be one of the family and it will be hard to say goodbye.