How will you cope?

Said with a knowing smirk, like they know something I don’t know.

This was the number one question asked of me when I told people we were moving to Israel. It was followed up with this nugget, ‘You know, you wont have a maid? You are going to have to do everything yourself!’

Its no secret that in South Africa a lot of people employ a maid/housekeeper/nanny/domestic worker.

I grew up with Ousie Paulina. She looked after the house, cooked meals, bathed me, dressed me and disciplined me. She also taught me to clear the table, wash dishes, make my bed and clean up after myself. She was my second mother growing up. She still works for my mom. I think she may decide to retire this year (although she says this every year and its yet to happen).

When we fell pregnant with Aaron we decided that we would like to employ a full time nanny/house keeper (we had previously had a lady come in twice a week to help with ironing and big cleaning).  Having Aletta as part of our household was a privilege. She adores both my kids and they love her right back. In addition to helping me with the kids she also cleaned and helped prepare meals.

So, back to the question above.

It seriously annoys me. Did these people think I’m a spoiled princess? That I sat on my arse all day doing nothing? Did they think I was incapable of looking after myself? The tone of the question also set my teeth on edge, as if we had randomly decided to pack up and move our entire lives without making an informed decision.


Its not like I woke up one morning and hopped a plane to Israel and then said ‘Now what?’ This move took careful deliberation and planning. There were lots of pros and cons debated. We spent hours and days and weeks discussing why this would be a good move for us and our kids. Funnily enough the fact that we wouldn’t have a maid was never on our pro/con list.

Paul and I are both quite proficient cooks, what I cant make (rice), Paul can and vice versa. We both know how to run a load of washing. We are both quite capable of sweeping, mopping and vacuuming as well as changing linen and gasp looking after our children. In fact the only thing I’m not really any good at is ironing (I just cannot get it right) but guess what? Paul can iron.

Oh, and my kids? Well, even before we arrived in Israel, Aaron and Faith made their own beds and cleared their dishes from the table. They helped mop floors and wash dishes and Aletta helped teach them basic cooking and baking. My children were not spoiled or pampered then and they are not now.

When people asked me how we would cope, I would resist rolling my eyes and rather answered with ‘Just like everyone else.’

13 Replies to “How will you cope?”

  1. It’s amazing, isn’t it? I grew up with a once-a-week maid, I’ve never had a nanny, and when I lived alone, I cleaned, cooked, took care of myself and my partner and I turn 28 this year (and will have been out the house for 8 years). I made it, see? I’m still standing, as is my house, my dogs are happy and healthy, and I still only have a once-a-week maid. Oddly, MIL and the BF both had daily maids for most of their lives (admittedly, for most of Rickus’ life his dad was disabled and they did need a carer/nurse/nanny/maid so I give them that) but R has done fine. It’s taken time, patience, a few screaming matches but honestly, you adapt.
    Silly humans giving you ‘tude. They can go smell the daisies.

  2. Even though I can iron clothing, I’m still pretty glad I get to wear t-shirts to work … its possible to do just fine outside SA without a housekeeper to do stuff.

  3. You and I on the ironing. I can do it I just don’t like it! Same question people ask me how I cared for a new born for 6 weeks without any help! We survive. Having a helper is a luxury and when it is not available we make do!!

  4. I grew up with a nanny who showed me how to keep house: doing my own laundry and ironing from my mid teens, and learning to cook.

    When I got married (at 22) I did everything. Washing, cooking, cleaning, mopping, ironing, sewing, gardening, painting, DIYing. It was only when my second child came along that I asked for help. And to this day I still only have help once a week. Otherwise, it’s pitch in and DO. My daughter knows this. And she does her share…although I’m not awfully strict.

    And similar to Mrsff (above), I cared for my first child on my own for two months while my husband was overseas. I had no choice. There was no money for help.

    Oh, and I’m one of those strange women who – when really, truly angry – will haul out the ironing board and use the anger on poor unsuspecting clothes to get my anger out….

      1. Gina, I haven’t ironed in over four years…funny coincidence is that I got divorced just over four years ago…

  5. Ha! Since we made public knowledge our intent and plans to emigrate, I’ve been getting the EXACT same response!
    Listen, I don’t love house work, but can do it… except the ironing, I refuse to iron! 🙂

    1. No one LOVES housework, at least no one I know. We do it, you have a routine and things get done.

      As for the ironing, wash and wear is the way to go!

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