Not too long ago, I wrote a post on surviving 25 days without a domestic helper. Little would I have known that barely 2 months after the arrival of my third domestic helper, I would be without a maid again.
Perhaps I have exceedingly high expectations of the roles and duties of a domestic helper. I am not able to tolerate helpers who do not have basic common sense, have attitude issues and talked back at their employer. Unfortunately, my third helper has all of these attributes. The final straw came when I discovered her using a rusty brush to scrub the toilet bowls – not one of them, but all three!
To be fair, not all helpers are bad. There are a good handful of them who are honest, hard working and intelligent. But we would rather not risk hiring another one as the odds of getting a good one is in parallel to striking toto. It becomes mentally stressful when you read about stories of maid stealing from their employers, getting pregnant on their off days, abusing young children when no one is looking and doing funny things at home. Read about this expat’s wife tale of her negative experience of hiring a maid here.
We have survived without a maid and we could do it. I don’t see why we need a maid when we have hands to do the housework ourselves. If the part time cleaner can do most of the work within 4-5 hours every week, we can do it as well. It is much better to be self-reliant than to suffer the trauma of hiring an unsuitable maid. The only circumstance I think would warrant a maid would be when someone in the house is unwell and needs to be looked after at home.
It has been 4 weeks since our attitude maid has left.
We rejoice at the new found freedom of being able to live in a house without a stranger.
When she has left, I found plastic trays in my refrigerator filled with leftover gravy. My dishwashing sponge gets deformed by mid week when she is with us; now it is still in a very pristine condition even after one week of us using it – and we still cook dinners daily.
So far, here is how I did it;
Have a weekly roster
I allocate specific tasks to be done on certain days of the week. Each day will have no more than 3 tasks so that it can be completed quickly within 1 hour. For example, the toilet mirrors and tables can be wiped in the morning, and the floor can be cleaned at night. I prefer to work with smaller tasks so that it gives me a sense of accomplishment when it is done. Look around you and jot down what needs to be done. Group them together and write on a weekly chart.
Work as a team
Rope in whatever help you can get from your family members. That way, the same amount of household can be done by more people, in a shorter span of time. Discuss amongst yourselves which chores you are more comfortable with doing, and which ones you are not. Even young children can be engaged to do simple work such as folding the laundry and sweeping the floor. There is no shame in cleaning your own house, really.
Certain tasks may have a higher priority compared to others, and this differs between household. For me, I assign a weekly routine to the higher priority ones e.g. cleaning the toilets, and a bi-weekly routine to the lower priority ones e.g. like washing bathroom floor mats. The sofa cushions can be changed every month and the curtains can be washed on public holidays.
Having a good weekly roster, a team of family members and a clear set of priorities, the next important key to success is yourself. Without discipline, it is not possible to succeed even if you have the most beautifully written roster. Try to be focus and complete the tasks you set out to do everyday. If you find that you cannot manage the tasks within a day, step back and relook at your roster – perhaps you can delegate some of your tasks to another family member or to convert certain chores to bi-weekly or once monthly.
Organise your tools
I find that a useful way for me to clean up the house is to organise my cleaning tools in a bucket and place each of these bucket in accessible areas such as the toilet cabinets or at a corner of the room. You can buy several beautiful designed buckets from Ikea and use it to store cleaning detergents, wet wipes and towels. After each cleaning, lay them dry and put them back into the same bucket again for the next use. It saves time when you have everything you need in one place, and you don’t have to struggle to put everything back into the kitchen or backyard again.
Put away your hand phone
Everyday, we spent way too much time staring at the handphone than engaging in productive and meaningful tasks. So when you are at home, put away that phone and use the same amount of time to complete your daily tasks. When you are less engaged on the phone, you will be a happier person because you are more involved in the real world around you. And of course, you have more time for housework.
Doing your own housework cannot be that bad when you see a constant stream of stories flooding your facebook asking for opinions and comments about their domestic helpers. Read these stories and be thankful that from now onwards, you don’t have to deal with all these issues again. It serves as a positive reinforcement that your choice is a good one. Not everyone can do without a helper as each family situation is different – they will have to learn to close two eyes or handle such issues on their own. Most helpers go home every two years after completing their contracts; so even if you manage to get a good helper this time round, you may not be blessed with such luck in the next round. A helper who has worked for more than 10 years for a single household is now considered very rare – if you have one of those, treasure and reward them.
Disclaimer: The above are just my personal opinion and experience of managing a household without a maid. I am happy without one. You can be too, if you are willing to try.