Survival without a maid

February 8, 2012, 0 Comments


Eeeks… we’ve been there! Whatever it is, for a nation who has so relied on maids, we felt so handicap when our trusty maid left for home. My boys are 3 and almost 5 yr old. I don’t know any preschoolers who don’t move and chatter non-stop from sun rise till sun set and mine do. We used to have a maid, but she left so I guess we HAD TO SURVIVE without one.

At the time when my maid left. We were in the midst of selling our house, finding a new one, getting a new maid, setting up a new business and homeschooling. So it was close to crazy.

Lesson 1: In the end, we had to abandon our non urgent but important plan. That meant we had to postponed the need to sell our house.

Lesson 2: But the business had to get going because it was time sensitive. So I struggled with time needing to be with the boys and being at the laptop furiously and desperately salvaging any lost time that slipped through my fingers, namely, cooking and house chores. I did not see the importance of doing that, so I perceived it to be a time-waster. I was WRONG.

Lesson 3: I always said I can’t cook, I learnt that it was because I DID NOT WANT TO. I also said I hated cooking. Truth be told, I also dislike marketing, or chopping, marinating, peeling, slicing… all of those ‘masak’ that I played really well as a little girl. I remembered so clearly cooking in my make-believe pot, and snipping off papers as vegetables and meat. Nope, I did not like it one bit. But I did learn to fry fish. Not bad for starters and I found that frying fish was a time-saver, no need to peel or cut – just wash and off it went into the oil. You wouldn’t believe how happy I was. And the skin does not stick on the wok. Yipee.

Lesson 4: Homeschooling my kids went OUT OF THE WINDOW. From independent play to chaotic play, my sons became experts at pretend play because they had to play on their own for hours while mummy slaved at the laptop. They created a boat scene out of their chair, their grass carpet, my sofa cushions, and then a train going up the terrain scene with the legos and vehicles by the sides. They became pillow sellers by pulling out ALL my pillows ( 6 of them) and their pillows into the temporarily abandoned baby crib.

In short, you really couldn’t see much floor in my tiny 4 bedroom house and you are right, I did go nuts. Yeah, some things had to give, but I figured, this cannot go on everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I love pretend play, in fact I am big on pretend play, but someone’s gotto be watching before the whole house become their pretend play, there has to be a boundary somewhere.

Lesson 5:  We tried having a part-time help. It worked for first week , then we realised she can’t iron and my hubbies shirt still looked like PJs out of the washer. But ironing was something I couldn’t do, well, more likely something I dislike doing. At least I know there is something I dislike! And so in the process, I discovered the foreign talent in my household. My hubby can do it better and quicker than anyone I know!

Lesson 6: Hubby and I kind of experimented a bit and before long, we both took a part of the household chores and were happy with what we were doing, until one day when hubby realised I hadn’t put the laundry out to dry. He decided to buy different brand of detergent so that clothes wouldn’t smell damp. And my almost 5 yr old son tells me, “mummy, use this brand of detergent, because daddy says it doesn’t need the sun, so mummy you don’t need to hang the clothes and you won’t be tired.”  I wished!!

Lesson 7: I realised how incredibly mature beyond his age my son was when he initiated to prepare my snacks as I was heading off for ministry and tried to pick bones off the fish one day for me. Both duties done by my previous maid. Awww… meltz.  That’s my rainbow after the storm. Counting my blessings.

Lesson 8:  No matter how much of a stickler we are about cleanliness, we know earlier on to lower our expectation. NOT lower our hygiene level. Just not being paranoid over dust.  But I still make sure there are no hairs found on my toilet floor. That’s my only bug bear.

Lesson 9: We explored online delivery to save time, but it didn’t work for us. Our neighbourhood grocery was still much cheaper and fresher and its just a street away. 5 mins walk.  But here’s the list in case you need one.

  • Diapers, milk powder etc.

  • Meat, Fish

  • Vegetable

Lesson 10: And when we are all tired of household chores or cooking, we just went OUT to eat and play! Cest la Vie! Come what may! Live, love and learn!

Time-saver ideas:

  • Have a plan!
  • Have a plan for everything.
  • Food: What to buy, what to cook, how to cook (especially if you’re a beginner like me)
  • House chores: Who does what, when and how (How is crucial cuz I clean the floor .
  • kids: What to do, where to go, how and who does it with them.

My typical day:

  • 7.00am – Prepare breakfast, Defreeze meat for lunch items or wet marketing/once a week
  • 8.30am – Worship, Bible reading, Outdoor, Lessons
  • 11.30am – Prepare lunch
  • 12.30pm – Lunch
  • 3pm – Kids nap, Chores/once a week (mop, clean, tidy, wash), me time
  • 5pm – prepare Dinner or hubby pick up from my mum’s
  • 9pm – kids in bed, Hubby does laundry, me time
  • 12midnight – Bedtime

Have manpower!

Gather help of hubby, mums, in-laws and the kids. Hubby does mainly laundry while I keep them. Mum helps out occasionally with dinner. Boys love washing the toilet (it really is about water and bubbles!), keeping their toys and helping with taking the laundry in.

Take a break!

I don’t believe in long breaks all the time, athough it is nice to have it at least once a year. But regular breaks helps me to run further. So I get breaks when kids play by themselves in the playground and I could sit and watch or read a book. Or go to the swimming pool and play with them. Or let them go with my mum and I go out. Or leave them in good hands of Sunday school teachers on Sunday while I refresh myself at the church service.

kitchen gadgets!

Dryers. I heard this is a life saver. You literally plonk the laundry into one machine and into another. Saves time and does not depend on the weather. Best of all, you can do your laundry even at 3am! If you could spend up to $6K a year hiring a maid, save that and get a dryer!

A multifunctional cooker is such a dream come true for time-starved mummies with multiple kids. Ok, I’m kidding, we are all time-starved even if we only have one or two kids right! Check this out! Thermomix is  literally the coolest, most coverted machine of all machines in the kitchen. It sets me drooling just thinking about it.  It is suppose to be able to do ALL the work for me. No, its not cheap of course, the last I heard of it, its about $2k.

I guess this may something worth getting if we are to go maid-less permanently. But that would be another 4 or 5 years while we save up.

At least I have my Happy Call Pan without a burning a hole in my pocket. Get it from gmarket at less than $100! Then join MunchMinistry and find like-minded HCP khakis to share recipes to cook up a storm with.


Kids are racing to the kitchen and asking “Is lunch ready?”. They sat expectantly at the table and slurp up every food in sight .  My 3 yr old said to me, “Mummy, try the soup, its very delicious!”. Seriously, I don’t think I am so much of a good cook, it is their unceasing enthusiasm which helps. Believe it or not, I look forward to surprising my boys and that ‘glow’ on both their faces is all I need to keep going.

Life is beautiful with a maid, life is more beautiful without one. 4 months without a maid – Bliss.

I remembered hearing Kris Valloton say this “If you put a pauper in a palace he will turn the palace into a prison. If you put a prince in into a prison he will turn the prison into a palace.” We adapted and conquered at last! Yippee!

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