I have always been dependent on household helpers. Although my parents taught me to do chores when I was younger, I still find it easier and more convenient when someone do the dishes, laundry and cleaning for me. No, I am not lazy. I just have other things (such as my work and taking care of my kids) to do apart from household chores.
So when I had my own family, I also have helpers to help me around the house as I take care of the kids. For some reasons still unclear to me, my two helpers decided to leave us without telling me anything. They just decided to storm out of the house with all their stuff with them. So there I was, left with chores, online work, a business, two little girls, and thinking how am I going to handle the situation.
But I managed to survive. And I even considered this as a challenge and another “one for the books” in my family life.
At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to last a day without helpers. First day without them was definitely hell but come the next few days, everything went smoothly.
Here’s what I did:
1) Wake up early. I usually wake up between 6 to 6:30 in the morning once my youngest wakes up. When my helpers left, I woke up extra early (read: 4AM) so I can clean the house, cook food for my family and finish off other chores. It was hard at first but I was able to accomplish a lot while my kids are asleep. So once they are awake, all I have to worry about is attending to their needs and morning rituals.
2) Delegate. I wasn’t lucky enough to have older kids to help me out with the chores. So its just me and my husband who take turns in doing what needs to be done at home. We split up the work and do what is assigned to us. I do the dishes while he cooks. I clean the house and sweep the floor while he mops. I sterilize the kids’s bottles while he takes care of them. This way, finishing the chores is easier and we have time to do other things, like work or sleep. If you have older kids, then it is a good way to teach and train them to do the chores by giving them their own responsibility. And yes, we maintain a schedule since it’s a lot easier for us to manage everything.
Update as of 2016: My kids are a bit bigger and more manageable now, so I train them to pack away their toys and instill independence.
3) Don’t hesitate to ask for help. I am lucky since I live near my parents’ house. That way, I am able to ask for a few hands to help me with the laundry or taking care of the kids when I need to do some errands. When your household helper leaves, don’t hesitate to look for extra hands to help. Consider laundry services or look for housekeeping services to help you in cleaning and other household work. If stay-out yayas are available, take advantage of them. There may be some people who live near you and are willing to do such services so scout them and offer them a job.
4) Cook in batches. I cook rice that can last for three meals. My husband also cooks food that is good for both lunch and dinner. You can also try cooking everything on weekends then freeze them and just microwave it when you are ready to eat it. Trust me, it’s going to save you a lot of time since you don’t have to prepare different foods for every meal.
5) Take advantage of the kids’ nap time. Despite the absence of a household helper, I was able to finish my writing jobs on time because I was able to do my work in the afternoon. While my kids are sleeping, I make it a point to finish the task on hand and proceed to other household chores such as sterilizing the bottles or fixing the playroom. If I am lucky enough and my kids decided to sleep for three hours in the afternoon, I’ll doze off too. It may be tiresome but that’s how I was able to manage without a yaya.
6) Prioritize. I realize I can’t clean everything all at the same time, no matter how much I want to. What I do is I prioritize which goes first especially when it comes to cleaning. The most important task should go on top (of course, duh!) and hold off a little those other tasks that can wait. And when it comes to cleaning, I just follow this order: kitchen – master’s bedroom – the rest of the house – playroom. I deliberately put the playroom last since I realized how much mess my kids love to make so why waste my time on cleaning it over and over. And yes, kitchen goes first because that’s where the yuckiest and grossest creatures would love to thrive so having a Lysol on hand, and tons of wet towels as well, is a great help.
7) Appreciate the beauty of technology. I let my kids play with iPad and allow them to watch TV but I still make it a point that they’ll hang out in their playroom a lot. I don’t tolerate the use of iPad that much – of course, that was before when I still had my yaya. Now that I’m maid-less, I have to set aside my “traditional way of parenting” and just give them a chance to watch TV since it actually keeps them in place for a considerable amount of time. At least when Frozen or Monster’s University is playing, I was able to clean the rest of the house, do the dishes, sterilize their bottles, fold clothes and cook food. And I have to admit, technology has its perks too.
8) Contain the mess. My kids love to make a mess – and I mean MESS. What I do, I just “contain” it in one area, which explains why the playroom is my kids’ most favorite part of the house. They can do whatever they want there and I don’t even care. I just make sure that they won’t bring their toys inside our room so at least I don’t have to spend the next 15 minutes cleaning and wiping everything.
9) Train the kids. I don’t want my kids to be yaya- or mommy-dependent especially on simple tasks. As early as now, I train them to pack away their toys, get their water and food in the refrigerator (I put them in areas where they can easily reach for it), and be on their own. Instilling independence on kids as early as possible helped me a lot in managing the household.
Above everything else, keep your calm and sanity intact. Breathe. Everything will be fine. A dust or toys out of place won’t hurt and you can always find time to fix it anyway. I used to freak out when my little girl lies down and swims on the floor but now that I have no yaya, I realized it’s just part of her play time and just let her do her thing.
Household helpers are there to make everything easier for us. However, there is no assurance that they are going to last longer. In case your helper left you suddenly (just like in my case), don’t panic. It’s not going to be easy at first so follow these simple tips and you can surely manage your home and kids even without them.
Ayi is a stay-at-home mom of two. When her kids are in their best state, she keeps up with chores, work, and ensuring that her sanity is intact. Join her as she navigates through this rollercoaster ride called motherhood.