Surviving life without maids

Surviving life without maids

As the idea of being a live-in housemaid is no longer a popular occupation for newcomers to Jakarta, many families have been forced to adapt and some no longer rely on the help of a housemaid for day-to-day housework.

The trend of being an "independent" family, it seems, has caught on for many in Greater Jakarta (Jabodetabek).

Piano teacher Anika Miranti said that in recent years it had become more and more difficult to look for a housemaid, let alone an honest and trustworthy one.

"It's difficult to find a housemaid these days. Some of my friends also prefer not to hire one," she said.

Anika, who lives in Bintaro, South Tangerang, said she did not trust housemaid agencies.

"My friends have had bad experiences with agency housemaids. Some of the housemaids stole things from their employers and others just didn't do a good job," she said.

Anika said that she and her husband took turns to do almost all of the housework. Moreover, she said, her flexible job gave her time to take care of her son and do housework.

"My husband and I do everything, except for washing clothes because it's tiring. For the clothes, we just take them to a laundry," she said.

Such a life without maids has apparently paved the way for affordable laundry and catering businesses to blossom in Greater Jakarta. Several daycare centers for young children have also opened their doors to cater to families who do not have nannies.

Anika said that she, her husband and their 1-year-old son have lived almost three years without a housemaid.

"I shared a housemaid with my mother for two months earlier this year, but the housemaid had to leave because she was pregnant," the 28-year-old said, adding that she found the housemaid through a family member's connection.

Anika said the housemaid, who was not a live-in housemaid, would come to clean her house twice a week and her mother's three times. She said she paid the housemaid Rp 1 million (US$85) per month.

However, Anika added, she would not look for another housemaid. "If I coincidentally find a good and honest housemaid, I will hire her. But I won't search for one."

Meanwhile, Suhartati said that she and her family had "survived" without a housemaid for more than six years. "I would rather save the money for my child's tuition fees, so I force my child to clean up the house instead," she said jokingly.

Suhartati, who runs a modest bakery business from her home in Depok, West Java, said that both her children were currently in college - one is a third-semester student at Bina Nusantara University and the other is just starting the first semester at the University of Indonesia (UI).

She said that as soon as both her children were old enough to help around the house, she stopped employing a housemaid.

"I won't look for a housemaid. We can handle the housework ourselves. Besides, it's hard to look for one these days," Suhartati said.

Another Depok resident, 47-year-old Budi Yuliani, said that her live-in housemaid still had not returned from the annual Idul Fitri exodus or mudik.

"My live-in housemaid, Imah, returned to her hometown in NTB [West Nusa Tenggara] for mudik and to visit her sick brother three weeks ago," Yuliani said.

She added that Imah's brother passed away one day after she arrived in West Nusa Tenggara.

"I called her upon her arrival in NTB and again when her brother passed away. She said she was doing fine. However, she hasn't been picking up my phone calls for the last week. I won't force her to return. She must be feeling very sad," she said.

Yuliani said she had a live-out housemaid who would come to clean the house and wash dirty clothes six days a week. She said that she would not employ another live-in housemaid to replace Imah.

"It's difficult to find a trustworthy housemaid. Imah had worked for me for a decade and I trusted her very much," she said.

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