As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker I come in contact with many domestic workers. I got useful experience working as a domestic worker when I was young and can relate to my patients.
My family moved to this country from Nicaragua. My parents came looking for safety and had to start their life anew. Not knowing the language, my mom had to work as a domestic worker for several years. She took me with her to help her clean. I was 13 years old and the experience was intimidating. There were two boys close to my age, who never spoke to me, never acknowledged my presence and made me feel inferior. That feeling was horrible, it stayed with me for life. I’m hiring a woman now, who helps me with cleaning my house, but I don’t think of her that way. I’m grateful for her helping me and always make sure she is comfortable doing her work.
I like being able to do the household work myself, to see everything neat and orderly but I never agreed with the notion that household work is a woman’s responsibility. I don’t like the expectations, especially when you also have to work outside of home. I stayed home for two years when my daughter was born. This made me realize that taking care of a baby is a full-time job. It was crazy to think that house work is also a woman’s responsibility. I’m lucky to have my daughter and my husband share the duties.
What needs to change is the way people look at this kind of work. Not much prestige is associated with household labor. Many people enjoy doing this work. Knowing that they are doing something valuable and important, can help them to be better at what they are doing. Fair pay, rewards and benefits are also important. Being underpaid fuels poverty and contributes to many problems.