I have been trying to write this post for weeks but the mojo for it was hard to come by. Well, there’s no better time to write about it than now. I am, once again, household help-free. Our 4-year yaya went on vacation last Christmas and didn’t come back. Don’t freak. I am not upset by that fact. I am no stranger to a yaya-free environment. But this incident got me thinking back to the session we had with Coach Pia of The One Core on having better relationships with household helpers. It was a long morning, but I wanted to share with you guys the points that I took home with me, and hope that these will help you in your domestic dramas (don’t we all have them).
Wants vs. Needs
Coach Pia first had us make a list of characteristics of our ideal home. We had similar lists – organized, safe, environmental, etc. We were then asked to list down the tasks involved in making this list happen, which area of the house needed the work, the specific tasks involved to do it and importantly, WHO was in charge. With this we then determined which characteristics were “Wants” versus “Needs” and if the person involved in doing this work felt it was a “Want” or a “Need” as well.
In my own home, one of my needs was to a spotless and organized kitchen. To my helper, this was not a need. It was not even a want. We had constant disagreements and I felt I was endlessly reminding her of how I wanted the kitchen to be kept. To me it was important; to her I was being OA. What could’ve worked was for me to explain why this was a need for me, for her to understand the reasons behind my nitpicking and to communicate how important it was to me.
This is not just for your household helpers, but for the rest of the family as well. It works both ways too. As mothers who run the house, we sometimes feel we have a say on what goes for EVERYTHING and fail to see that the other members of the family have needs as well. So if the husband asks for a bike rack, doesn’t want it, but NEEDS it, then by jove, let’s try and make that happen. Being able to meet and compromise on everybody’s wants and needs is the first step to a harmonious household.
Willingness vs. Ability
When it comes to household helpers, there are varying degrees of willingness and ability we have to live with. We also have to figure out what levels we ourselves can live with. Check if your helper is:
- Willing and able
- Willing but not able
- Not willing but able
- Not willing and not able
I think I’ve encountered kasambahay in all these levels of willingness and ability. Sad to say, most of my friends who have trouble with their household employees have people who fall under the “not willing and not able” category. For me, I am quite content with “willing but not able” because then you can train them how to handle things in your household. I will never have anyone who is “not willing but able” stay with me because from my experience, they are smart-ass, eye-rolling, complaining, sass-mouthing people who will leave you at the drop of a hat with no consideration at all.
So once you’ve assessed your helper, assess the tasks that need to be accomplished in your household. Are these tasks well within the scope of her willingness and ability? Maybe you’re asking and expecting too much.
Go back to the values.
In line with needs, wants, willingness and ability, it’s very important to explain the core values of the family to our helpers. If you are a working, breastfeeding mom, for example, simple directions about the storage and handling of milk sometimes will not suffice. I have heard many moms literally cry over spilled and wasted milk. But, if you explain the benefits, the care and the effort you put into expressing milk, then she might be able to understand why she should thaw with care, check for spoilage, not throw leftover milk, and so forth. That is, if she is WILLING and ABLE.
It was a really fruitful morning, and we were fortunate to have the session, thanks to the wonderful people of Marca Piña Cheeseballs, Tonkita by Arix and Gustare Kitchen as the venue. We took home some very useful household cleaning implements from Tonkita (homemaker’s goody bag dream items, hear hear). I really like this two-well bucket. #homemakerjoys
The food at Gustare Kitchen was so yummy! I especially liked this squid ink sotanghon, which reminded me of my lola’s recipe. They also have packed meals ready for takeout. Perfect for condo-dwellers, small families and people who just need a break from cooking.
We also learned about Marca Piña Cheeseball (which was the perfect companion to grapes and made an awesome snack during the session). We had this session right before Christmas last year, so the timing was perfect. Who doesn’t get giddy over cheeseballs during Christmas season?
I think all of us went home that day with a bit of wisdom on how to handle our household. I hope there will less domestic drama for all of us this year!
Thank you Coach Pia! Looking forward to the next #BetterMe session!