Abu Dhabi: Coronavirus-related restrictions have left many families across the UAE in a pickle because they can no longer avail of live-out help.
With the 24-hour lockdown implemented in Dubai, and a general advisory to stay at home across the UAE, many families say that helpers who live on their own are no longer being asked to help with household chores. For families with young children and multiple working members, this greatly complicates the situation.
“I have two young sons under the age of five, and my husband is also working from home these days,” M.A, 32, a Pakistani homemaker and Dubai resident told Gulf News. “Along with my mother-in-law, this creates a lot of work. We used to have a cleaner come in twice a week, but we’ve asked him to stop coming for the past month. This makes things very difficult even for a stay-at-home mother like me.
“It feels like I am constantly on the go, and every night, I am exhausted to the bone. I understand the need for the restrictions, but it is very difficult, especially since there is no end in sight,” M.A. added.
Another Indian media professional said she was struggling to complete daily tasks like cooking and cleaning.
“We had two helpers who would come every day, one for cooking and one for cleaning. Neither comes anymore because we want to limit the spread of the virus. I have paid them for the month because I understand the money we provide is their livelihood, but it does make things a big struggle for someone like me who is in full-time work,” she said.
Families who opt for live-out help often do so because they do not have enough room in their homes for additional occupants. In many cases, these helpers work at multiple households to make enough to support their families. Under the current circumstances, this would however allow for the COVID-19 outbreak to spread.
“It has been more than a month since we told our cleaner to stay home. With an active four-year-old at home, the work is now never-ending. But we don’t have a choice. I can just hope things resolve soon,” said V.K, a Pakistani homemaker.
Families in Abu Dhabi have also adopted similar measures to stay safe.
A marketing professional in the capital said she had let go of their cleaner for the moment.
“I am working from home for the moment, and don’t have children. So it is still manageable for us. It’s also a risk because our cleaner was self-sponsored, so we don’t know where else he works and what risks that presents,” she said.
In some cases, it has been near-impossible for some families to do without helpers. A long-term resident in Abu Dhabi said she still asks her nanny to come by every day.
“I have two small children, one just a year old and another in kindergarten who is assigned remote learning tasks from school. In addition to their care, I also have to work from home every day, and tend to my elderly parents,” she said.
“I cannot make do without my nanny, who helps out until the early afternoon. The good thing though is that she is sponsored by an agency, and they have been implementing very strict protective measures for staff, including the provision of daily transport, temperature checks and overall disinfection,” she said.
The constant pressure of household tasks is a major reason why many families choose live-in help.
“I am working from home, and simply cannot manage to engage a two-year-old as well. We have a live-in maid, but with the closure of nurseries, she is doubling as the nanny. This is the only way we can manage for the moment. Still, I really hope that the outbreak will reduce soon and nurseries can resume operations,” said K.T., a Jordanian-Palestian professional based in Dubai.