We’re now into our 6th month of a no-maid, no-yaya household. I told myself I would give it 6 months, and I’m so settled in our routine I actually feel we can do this as a lifestyle choice. I don’t know how I’ll feel if I get pregnant with a second child, but let’s deal with that if that happens, shall we?
People from other countries may roll their eyes at my small victory. Until you’ve lived in Metro Manila, please reserve judgement. Having household help is more the norm than the exception here, and I’ve been regarded as insane for going against the grain.
So right now, I am enjoying having the household under my full control. Ok, that’s a lie, because there are days when Basti is lord of the house. Not just one person has asked me how I’m surviving. Look, I won’t pretend that I’m running a perfect household, but it’s a level of order that I can live with, and that’s enough for me. What I love most is, the level of order and cleanliness of my home is way higher than it was when I had a maid. It goes to show that genuine TLC beats paid help anyday.
Now I will delve into bulletpoints, because I can’t think coherently at the moment.
- I love that I have full control of housekeeping expenses. All three maids that I had in my married life were inexplicably wasteful of things like laundry soap, dishwashing liquid, cooking oil, rice and other things. My supermarket bill always sent me reeling. Now that I do all the household chores myself, I’m using all the same amounts at half the rate when I had help.
- Speaking of expenses, not having a maid put a really significant amount back in my pocket! I use that extra amount now for little treats for us – a nice meal out when I don’t feel like cooking, extras in the pantry (good cheese, pricey deli items) and extra aircon time. It’s also nice not to worry about her when we’re out. My last helper, for example, almost never appreciated the food when we ate out. It’s a double whammy – I feel guilty that she didn’t have a good meal, and I feel guilty for the food left on her plate. I have an issue with leftover food.
- I also love buying kitchen implements that are a little more expensive than my usual. I love kitchen things, but I’ve seen one too many non-stick pans and good knives go to waste from improper use.
- No drama for this mama. I don’t think I have to explain this item to anyone who’s ever had to manage a household with maids.
There are mundane things around my house that give me a lift and a small bit of joy; the tiny hooks I installed that keep my favorite pots and pans conveniently within arm’s reach, my little 5-cup rice cooker that’s perfect for me, The Painter and Basti, the little bins from Saizen that keeps our refrigerator organized, my Swiffer.
Some insights I gained in these six months that kept me sane:
- If you can’t do it, don’t. Delegate. If I think I have to do everything around the house myself, I’ll be screaming everyday for the rest of my life. Instead, I get the laundry done by a service (Metropole’s wash-and-fold service is perfect!), and I borrow my mother’s maid once a month to do a general cleaning of the house and the kitchen. I do not like scrubbing down tile floors and I hate cleaning under kitchen sinks. It’s my deathly fear of the Cucaracha.
- If I don’t want to cook, we eat out. What do we live in the middle of Ortigas Center for if not for this convenience? I am a breath away from Tiendesitas, Hap Chang, SM Hypermart and yes, even Jollibee, Chowking and McDonald’s. If I’m willing to drive, Basti and I hop over to Mom and Tina’s for some steak and eggs, to Cab Cafe for Pinoy Pasta, Pancake House for waffles, or (to hell with my thighs), the yummy and affordable buffet at the Ace Water Spa Cafe.
- I put the rooms in order of priority. It’s my cardinal rule that the kitchen shall always be clean and disinfected – it’s where the Insect-Formerly-Known-As-Voldermort likes to thrive the most. The bedroom is next, the playroom is last. A toy out of place is just a toy out of place. I found myself saying this out loud in the playroom once – “If you toys really do move when I’m not looking, I give you my full permission to go back to where you belong. I won’t freak out.” I stared at Woody, urging him to nod in agreement. Alas.
- A yaya-less child will be a little grimy for most of the day. Live with it. I can’t chase Basti around with wipes, and an extra shirt all day. Sometimes he lies on the kitchen floor, waving his arms and pretending to be Buzz Lightyear. Or suddenly he’s all about crayons and murals and living room walls. He’ll live. I’ll live. Breathe.
- Even if my house is a mess, I don’t leave it looking like one myself. You can clean up the house when you get back. But looking lousy and feeling lousy because I look awful is not something I want for myself. Or the company I keep.
I know more and more families are choosing a household-help-less setup these days, and not feeling helpless at all. How about you mommies who are in the same boat as I am? What are your household tips?