Maid - The Answer For Everything

rani's picture

In the process of moving to Jakarta, we’re grateful that our family and friends has been really helpful. Many well-meaning individuals, family and friends, are eager to help solving the problems that we’ve encountered.

But interestingly, many of the problems seemed to always boils down to one same solution: “You should employ a maid”.

Photo By Simon Pais Thomas. Some Rights Reserved

Well, sorry to say, that is not really an answer for now, because we have not considered employing a maid yet (maybe later). But somehow, the well-meaning individuals seemed to be unable to think of any other solution besides employing a maid. It seems that maid becomes an answer for all problems.

Maid - For The Dirty Jobs that Got To Do With the Kids

For a start, the kids were clingier than ever before. This is understandable for me because moving to a new place is a big undertaking for them, and they need the parents as an “anchor” during the adaptation process. Noe, who usually is pretty much independent, could not have me out of his sight. Kei wanted to be carried by me all the time. The first comment from the well-meaning individual is: “You need a maid so that you don’t have to keep carrying your kids all the time” "You need a maid to feed the baby" "You need a maid to wipe their vomits and clean their poo". Well, thank you. But I’m the mother, so I would rather have my kids cling to me rather than some stranger. But somehow this outlines one of many functions of maid: a multi-purpose baby carrier (what we see in shopping malls every weekend). And I don't mind wiping poo out of their butt, heck, I made these kids, I guess gotta do the dirty jobs too!

Besides, unlike what the well-meaning individual thinks, actually the kids doesn't have to be constantly accompanied. Once the house is adequately baby-proofed, we could leave our kids in the playing corner and we're sure that they won't harm themselves. Unlike popular notion that kids are totally dependent on adult, we found out that they are actually quite independent, and are eager to be independent. You know what, they don't even have to be spoonfed! Kei would shut his mouth when spoon comes towards him, and would prefer to take food by his own hands. Noe would love to try to put on his clothes by himself. We can supervise them from afar and come to help when they ask for it. Kids are amazing, they're smarter, stronger, more durable, more resilient, and more independent than what most people thought. Really, when we let them do things on their own, we free up our time to do other things.

Then they retorted, “But you cannot do other things if the kids clings to you all the time!” . Or ”You cannot go anywhere with baby on tow all the time”. Oh really? Somehow there is this mentality in Indonesian family that kids should stay at home all the time, and the activity should be totally separated to adult’s activities. But why not trying to break this barrier? I think it’s just a matter of adjusting the lifestyle to incorporate the kids. At home we baby proof our house, so that we don’t need to constantly watch their activities. We get used to using computer or eating one-handed, while carrying baby on the other hand. Outside, we have no choice except bringing our kids to the places we want to go. Surprisingly, it’s doable! It’s pretty easy to go to shopping malls or restaurant with kids. We go to the bank and government offices with kids and it’s not that hard, really. Amazingly, in Indonesia, people are very fond of kids, so they will try to amuse the kids. Essentially you find a lot of ad-hoc baby sitters everywhere you go. When I went to BCA to fix my Key, Noe had a great time jumping around the waiting seats and playing with the security guards. When I went to Bandung Police HQ to renew my driving licence, the cops were really helpful, they provided me special seat to do the theory test so that I can do it while carrying my baby. And perhaps, because my kids are quite used to be taken to places, they’re relatively obedient to me. On the other hand, I know their limitations so don’t need to keep giving them orders or constantly watching them.

Getting By Without Maid

But it didn’t finish there. The well-meaning individual continues “So yes, you take care of the kids without the help of nanny (Baby-sitter in Indonesian), surely you need help to do household chores?”. Well, yes and no.

So far, in Singapore we’ve managed to do things without help. And it turned out that household chores is not really time consuming. How?

First, divide the chores. I’m so grateful to have married Indi who is very good with household chores, in fact, he’s better than me! Indi loves ironing, I love doing the laundry. I love cleaning the tops, Indi loves cleaning the floor. I love cooking, Indi is good in washing dishes. Both of us are equally good in taking care of the kids. If he had breast, he would feed the baby, too (and wear a bro, not bra). Oh, our kids really love to be involved in household work. So we let them. Noe would take plates to the sink, or toss the dirty clothes to the laundry bag. Kei had begun to play with the small sweeper.

Second, there is technology. Washing the clothes? Well, washing machine has been invented since, what, fifty years ago. Shove the dirty laundry and turn it on, in less than five minutes, and you can leave them to do the washing for you. Dust? There’s vacuum cleaner.

Third, prevent extra work before it happens. How? For example, wipe spills immediately. Babyproof the house. Put things back to its proper place. Don’t clutter. While cooking, keep your station clean (quoting Colette in Ratatouille).

Fourth, be methodical, work systematically. After dinner, ensure that the plates are clean from debris, then immerse in warm water while the plates piled out properly: the wide ones on the bottom, smaller ones on the top. Then soap the plates, rinse, then put into dryer. At our place, washing dishes only uses about 15 minutes of our time, when I don’t cook. When I cook, it’s an additional ten minutes. When it’s systematic, it will finish quicker.

Lastly, minimize. Live in a small house. Try best not to accumulate stuff. One thing in, one thing out. When there’s not much things at home, there will be less things to take care of.

In sum, when we’re confronted with a situation where there is no maid available, we cope differently, we learn to solve problems differently. Maid is no longer the first resort. Maid is not the answer for everything.

Maid or No Maid?

Sure there are still some things to sacrifice for not employing a maid. For example, Indi and I haven’t dated since Kei was born because Kei couldn’t be left without the mother (me). We can’t really going out at night unless the kids are brought along with us. But that’s OK with us. We really enjoy our time together as a family, and when they reach 12 years old and beyond, they would want to be independent. So we’re making the most of “being together” while we can, while the kids are still small.

But all that I’ve written above doesn’t mean that I am anti-maid. Not at all. It’s just that the well-meaning people around us kind of push us to employ a live-in maid as soon as possible, as if it is a critical step that needs to be taken to ensure smooth move into Jakarta.

But having lived outside Indonesia for more than 5 years, we really value privacy, and it kinda irks us to have a stranger loitering around the house. Like, suddenly we don’t have that much privacy anymore. Besides, we live in a small apartment in Jakarta. Although there is a maid’s room, we think the room’s condition is a bit inhumane, I mean, the maid sleeps together with AC exhausts, washer, driers, and cleaning chemicals. And there’s no window outside. So, with those considerations, we think that live-in maid is just not feasible for us. And the well-meaning people around us, just won’t take the maid decision slooowly. Give us a break guys, give us some time to adjust ourselves to Jakarta!

I won’t deny that the low-cost of labor in Indonesia really tempted us to employ household staff. But if we need to choose, we would prioritize more on investing in a good driver rather than a maid. Driving in Jakarta is tiring and stressful, we’d rather be doing something else in the car (like checking emails, reading blogs, or reading to our kids) and let someone take the stressful street in Jakarta.

And taking consideration that we really value our privacy plus living in a small flat, we would rather employ a live-out maid. As we surveyed the cost, surely, this would be more expensive than live-in maid. But the high-cost of a live-out maid is offset by the extra expenses that are incurred by live-in maid, such as extra meal or health care cost. The live-out maid’s salary would include transport and meal and other expenses. This will be a nice compromise.

What We Expect From A Maid

As we have been so used to not having a maid at home, and that we’ve gotten by OK without her, we’re a bit lost in determining what the maid will do if we decided to employ them. So we think and think,.. we came up with this list of things:

  • She would have to sweep and mop the floor every day. Right now, we do sweep the floor every day, but mop it only once or twice a week.
  • She would need to iron all clothes, undergarments, and table linens. Right now, we only iron shirts for office, but we don’t bother ironing other things. With the maid, T-Shirts and tablecloths will be crisply ironed.
  • She would hand wash delicate clothes. Usually, I would delay this job until very late. But with a maid, not anymore!
  • She would wipe the furniture, window sills, and scrub the bathroom once a week. Right now we do it every two weeks or once a month.
  • She would help me with my mis-en-place before cooking. Peeling shallots, I really dread doing it, although I could get by with immersing it in cold water beforehand. With a maid, I can outsource it. But I would do the whole cooking by myself because I like it.
  • She could help us with washing the dishes, although we know well that we can do it ourselves.
  • She could help with babysitting the kids for a couple of hours so I can do my own thing.
  • She could help with scanning and OCR-ing the incoming paperwork, or she could help scanning my books (I have an ambition to make pdf of my books collection so that they’re searchable by Google Desktop).

See, employing a maid could help. It helps making my house totally squeaky clean and shiny all the time. While now, it’s just reasonably clean. But it is not critical. It’s not that we would die without a maid. Human being has a great capability to adapt, and when faced with different condition, they will adjust accordingly. So for you who dreaded to see your maid went away for Lebaran, fear not, it’s not the end of the world!

On the other hand, we’re a bit worried that we could become more lenient in our household management, when we know that we have a maid at home, like, not cleaning up the plate after a meal, knowing that the maid will do that later on. We hope, we can still be rigorous about our household management system, by remembering, that the maid is there to HELP us (meaning, working together WITH the maid), not to SERVE us, not to be ENSLAVED by us.

Further, our dream is that hopefully, we could find a good, intelligent maid, who’s eager to learn, is thinking for the long-term and is also loyal. And we hope that, when she’s employed by us, she could develop herself into a more skillful person, so she could jump to a better career later, when she finished working for us. Maybe she could become a secretary. Maybe she could set up her own business. Or teaching English in her village. We hope this is not too much to ask.


Temp Maid

As I said, my house is without a maid for more than 3 years. We did employed a temporary maid who came once every week or two weeks or even monthly (depend of how much mess accumulated heh) - and her duty are cleaning the house, ironing the left over clothes and sometime help us throw away some accumulated junks. That's all. Our life is not depend on her, if she could come then great but if not, well - we still alive well.

Some helpful hint about 'no maid lifestyle', try not to accumulate too much junk. This also means less cluttered and of course less money spent on unused or barely used items that looks cute at first but become nothing more but another junk inside the house.

Just my 2 cents.

Ikatan Ibu-ibu Yang Survive Tanpa Pembantu Di Jakarta

Suatu hari seorang klien pernah terkaget-kaget karena saya yang freelancer ini ke kantornya dengan mengajak anak saya.
"Emang gak punya pembantu di rumah?"
Ouch. Kalo saya nyuruh pembantu untuk ngasuh anak, mendingan sekalian saya kerja kantoran 8 to 5. Lha wong saya kerja di rumah supaya tetap bisa liat anak saya tumbuh & berkembang kok.

Saya rasa kita harus mulai bikin Ikatan Ibu-ibu Yang Survive Tanpa Pembantu Di Jakarta kali ya... :)))))

*Maaf komennya gak relevan* ^_____^

Maid and privacy

I have some maids and a nanny, and I agree that one of the major problem is privacy. Being born and raised in Indonesia, I think I'm getting used (read: spoiled) to it, and to be honest, even when only one of them is taking a leave, we really feel the impacts.

But your five tips are very good, Ran. Should really try it when we move to our own house ;)

I want the maid shown in photo. How much?

Hope she plays tennis like Ana Ivanonic, too!

I want her too!

(please don't tell esti)

yang bantuin di rumah (gw

yang bantuin di rumah (gw lebih suka menyebut dengan istilah 'asisten' sih) ga nginep di rumah. kalo sabtu kerjanya setengah hari, minggu libur.

oh ya, soal bawa anak ke mana2, gw juga hampir ga pernah bawa asisten gw kalo pergi2 sama Naila. ngapain juga, rada over deh kayaknya... anak baru satu ini. TAPI.. ada satu hal yang gw susah lakukan kalo bawa Naila: shopping berjam2 di Pasar Baru :(.

maid only solve some of our problems

Problems? seemed that maid responsible for every aspect in the household. Clean the floor, ironing shirt even wash your car. I have been living without maid for hmm...many years fully agree with your conclusion that maid only helper, not our slave. I think it's good for husband and kids to have equal liability in the house. Mean they're also has duty to keep in order.
*selamat datang di jakarta lagi ran..


saya mau coba tips nya supaya rumah tetep bersih tanpa pembantu.
Thanks ya.

Go for it Ran..

Mo sharing juga..
Mnrt gw pembantu di Indonesia hrsnya ya memang sesuai namanya, hanya membantu. Tapi parahnya, disini, makin mahal gajinya atau makin bagus kerjanya, si majikan biasanya akan makin manja trs berpikir 'lah ngapain gw capek2 lagi kan gw dah gaji mahal dia' atau 'kan ada pembantu, suruh2 aja' atau 'gw kan butuh me-time atau dating, anak2 tinggal dirumah aja, jauh lebih bagus main dirumah' atau 'dia ngerjain ngurus anak lebih baik drpd gw, gw ga sabaran' atau 'masakan dia lbh enak dr bikinan gw' dll dll.. & Seperti kata Nadia, di Indo, ga biasa bgt anak dibawa2, ga usah ke tempat kerja, ke acara resepsi atau kumpul2 teman aja sll ada yg nanya ' ko anaknya dibawa sih?'

Gw sempet ngerasain kerja full-time hidup tanpa pembantu dengan 2 toddlers & juga hidup dgn pembantu, pada akhirnya gw pakai pembantu dgn spek kerja kurleb seperti yg lo sebutin (kecuali yg PDF yaa..) tapi jobdesc wajibnya hanya bantu nyokap beberes anak2 gw saat gw kerja krn gw ga percaya hanya orang lain yg nemenin anak. Dan seperti yang udah lo sebutin, setuju banget anak2 sebenarnya bisa ko hidup tanpa pembantu, mereka bisa mengurus dirinya sendiri. Kalau mereka tau ada yang bisa disuruh jadinya mereka pasti spoiled, tp kl ga ada kita survived. Solusinya pada saat ada pembantu, anak2 tetap hrs mengerjakan hal2 yang mereka bisa kerjakan sendiri, diawasi aja oleh pembantu.

- plg ga enak punya pembantu krn mslh privacy yang berkurang.
- paling enak punya pembantu, saat kerjaan lagi banyak2nya, saat kita lagi sakit.
Selama masih bisa, bertahanlah hidup tanpa pembantu..

what if we're sick?

Doesn't mean that i don't agree with the idea of not having live-in maid, but what if we're sick? Bad one. For 4 or 6 days in a row. Who will be taking care of our kids and our meals? I don't have any maid at home. But i'm still trying to figure this problem out. What if we're sick?

si anis

Absolutely agree...

I'd understand if a household might need a maid (to help though, not to serve, as u said). What amazed me is that there are lotsa young middle-class Indonesian women claimed themselves as a modern and independent minded yet still expect to have their own private maid. I don't think that's independent, :D

Domestic Helper, Safety Net & Social Responsibility

Well, Ichi, I was a single woman who lived with a domestic helper (I'd rather say called them in this term instead of housemaid), Erna, in three bedrooms house when I was working in Bandung. My parents who lived in Jakarta insisted me to hire a domestic helper or otherwise I should stayed with my uncle's family (also in Bandung). Their main reason is my safety by being a woman living alone. I did hire a domestic helper in the end to comfort my parents since I did not want to live with my relatives. Erna did not have to do much, she did ironing & laundry but we cooked, cleaned and gardening together. During the day I sent her to special school to finish her elementary school and at night I helped her homework. After getting her certificate, I sent her to follow computer course & basic english course. At that time I feel like adopting a younger sister whom I wish her to move up. I would advise to any Indonesians who are lucky enough to hire live-in housemaid(s) to consider this social gesture. Hiring a domestic helper could means that you created a safety net and perhaps helping them by giving them opportunities to enjoy education - in which that very often the opportunity that they could never enjoyed that caused them became domestic helper.

So what do the maids do...?

It's nice to have a maid (and I'm with Indi re the one in the photo) but to think that we can't survive without them, well... obviously not everyone can have a maid. Obviously the maids can't afford to hire a maid. In Western countries, it's only the very rich that have maids or housekeepers - an occasional housekeeper is affordable for a professional, but is still a luxury.

Also, in a culture where maids are unusual, it seems more acceptable to not be spotless. (I don't know if that's for other reasons, but it makes sense that there might be a connection.)

I like to work as maid by kind expat round Jkt pusat

I like to work as maid by kind expat round Jkt pusat by minimum standard 4 days a week, honest, trustable
Please contacr 021 70347271

Get a robot maid

Too bad these maid robots from Japan are 10 years away from mass production

I didn't maid, but ...

clothings are sky rocketing! ironing is time consuming. i didn't know how to optimize ironing time.

finally we employed a part-time maid to do ironing, and mopping once a week.

I agree with you comment

I agree with you comment that you have to be completely methodical if you don't have a maid. Organization and systematic clean up will get it done. I don't have a maid, and a friend who does made me laugh. They don't want to be embarassed when their made comes to work, so they straighten up a bit and keep things a bit tider for the maid! Isn't that nuts?

To maid or not to

Wow - my wife would be on cloud nine if I let her hire a maid. In fact, my kids would be. They are always asking why we don't have a mail like Jerry's family, etc. Well, my wife stays home so that she can take care of all of that stuff, and she likes it. If, however, she was working full time, I might consider hiring a maid. I prefer not to though.


I see the similarities between your situation and here in the Philippines. It's kind of expected for you to employ help.

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