Business / Economy

Cooking, cleaning, washing... all in a 14-hour whirl

By Chen Hong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-28 17:31

Cooking, cleaning, washing... all in a 14-hour whirl
Shen Xiaohua

Shen Xiaohua's high-pressure workday begins when she rises at 6 am. The 44-year-old domestic helper then has just 50 minutes to wash, gulp down breakfast and cycle to her employer's home 3 km away. She then starts preparing breakfast for the family she works for, a couple with two children.

She uses an electric cooker to make porridge, typical Chinese breakfast fare made with rice and meat or vegetable, and prepare noodles for the 8-year old girl, who needs to leave for school by 7:30 am.

Shen usually spends the morning cleaning the three-room apartment on the 13th floor, from where there is a view of the wetlands that separate Shenzhen and Hong Kong. At springtime, that sparkling scenery is often accompanied with a warm breeze coming in from the south. But Shen has little time to lap up any of that because she needs to be at another workplace by midday.

That is a hotpot restaurant about 7 km away, which she goes to by bus, and she is there until 3 pm washing vegetables.

The stay-at-home lady of the household is amenable to Shen's working in the restaurant because during the day she often heads out to visit friends, do courses on self-improvement or family relationships or gives a hand to her husband, who runs an Internet company.

The couple's daughter is at primary school and their son, 3, is in kindergarten all day.

After cleaning vegetables in the restaurant, Shen takes the bus to her home, where she gets barely 15 minutes rest before heading out and taking a bus to her employer's daughter's school, where she must be by 4 pm to pick up the girl. The pair then head back to the girl's home about 4 km away.

On the journey, among the things Shen has time to think about is what she needs to buy when she goes to a supermarket to buy cooking ingredients so she can prepare dinner for the family.

After cooking is done and the family has eaten, Shen is ready to wash and dry dishes (dishwashing machines are not as common in China as in many Western countries) and clean the kitchen. At 9 pm she heads back home.

She has one day off a week.

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