Don’t get me wrong ayis are great. They are a part of many families and the unsung heroes of expat life in China. Our first ayi was a blessing as she spoke English and helped us in our first months after moving to Beijing. Though, as of recently, I have decided that I don’t want one anymore. Maybe we will have a cleaning lady once a week, but other than that our family is done with ayis. Here, I have compiled a few of the reasons why we decided not to employ one anymore.
When I employed my first ayi for 25 hours a week, I paid her 4,000 a month. A pretty big amount, over a year that accumulated to RMB 48,000. Despite this, I still feel like ayis are underpaid. Where in the world can you actually employ somebody to take care of your kids and home for sometimes only RMB 30 an hour? But by not having an ayi we will save RMB 4,000 a month.
This is the biggest problem I had over the last year living in China, and clearly the sanitation expectations are different. I am perfectly fine with the lack of cleanliness, just not inside my home. Grime inside my shower and cooking oil on the walls of my kitchen. I have explained to my ayis many times that I wanted them to scrub the bathtub but to no avail, and often cleaning with cold water and never using soap. I have realized I don’t want to spend time training somebody who then doesn’t do what I ask.
Spoiling My Child
Our four year old quickly got used to somebody picking up after her. Telling me “ayi will tidy my toys.” When our ayi left over the Chinese New Year, she asked me if daddy was our new ayi as he was then putting the trash outside. I would love to teach my daughter that she can pick up her toys. And we won’t stay in China forever, so we won’t always have an ayi out at our beck and call.
Before I came to China, I had never been responsible for somebody’s salary. I found it to be a very big responsibility. My last ayi told me about her family’s money problems and hospital bills. I found this a little confrontational and sad at times. I have gained some understanding, and I have realized that I don’t want this responsibility. I have hospital bills I need to pay too, and clearly, this ayi thought we were loaded. We are simply not loaded, and having an ayi is a huge luxury we can do without.
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