Aside from work-related questions I get here, I also receive requests from parents to share advice on how to cope without a maid. The last time we had househelp was when my youngest was 3 or 4 months old. With a 2-year old and an infant around, I thought househelp is a must–even if that meant living with a helper with so many demands.
I finally put my foot down when our helper took my then infant son out of the house without my permission. I knew then that I cannot really entrust our home, especially our children, to a total stranger.
And so my husband and I agreed to let go out our househelp and to manage our home and take care of our kids ourselves. To give you a better idea of what life was/is like, this is the condition of our family:
- I work from home;
- My husband is a fire officer and would only come home every 2-3 days (recently, just once a week–every Friday); and
- We have two kids that are 18 months apart.
If you are in a similar situation, or even if you are not and you are open to suggestions, here are five ways I manage homemaking and working without househelp:
1. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED
This was difficult at first since I had a 3-month old and 21-month old when we let go of our helper. There was a lot of adjustment and planning, but they all paid off eventually.
When I say get everyone involved, I mean it. Although my husband is a firefighter and is almost always away, he makes sure he still helps out when he is home. For one, he takes charge of taking care of the kids when he is off duty. Also, on weekends, he pre-cooks most of our meals so I can just heat them up throughout the week.
When my kids were old enough to help out with chores, they contributed. My daughter started as soon as our househelp left. She started with small tasks, such as packing away her toys, putting away her used plates and utensils. Our two kids eventually helped with bigger tasks, like making the bed, sorting our laundry (then they put the dirty clothes in the washing machine), mopping the floor, and watering the plants.
When the kids started going to school, I taught them to put their used lunch kits in the sink as soon as they reach home. They also put away their shoes in the cabinet and throw their uniforms in the laundry. Come lunch time, they set the table themselves.
If the whole family gets involved in managing the home, it becomes easier for the parents. Plus, getting kids involved teaches them about responsibility and team work!
2. HAVE A SCHEDULE
Although I have accepted the fact that there will be crazy messy days the moment we let go of our helper, I tried my best to lessen the occurrence of such days. I do it by creating and following a schedule/routine. I realized that kids throw less tantrums or are less out-of-this-world misbehaved when there is a routine.
For special days when we have to leave the house to run errands, I make them understand what needs to be done and that we need to stay within routine. We recite our schedule before we leave and during our errands. For example, “Eat lunch — Pay the bills — Go to the grocery”. This way, if they see something like a mall playground, I let them recite our list and they agree to schedule their play date some other day.
3. PRE-COOK MEALS
I mentioned in #1 that my husband pre-cooks most of our meals. This is SUPER helpful, folks! It takes at least 30 minutes to prepare and cook a full meal so to be able to just heat one up in 5-10 minutes is such a time saver. This is great for the budget, too, since you won’t be tempted to eat out when you don’t feel like cooking.
4. MAKE USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Parents, make technology your friend! Invest on appliances that will make housework easier–like a washing machine. If you are thinking about it, I am going to tell you now that you NEED that automatic washing machine. It will make your life so much better.
Other appliances you might want to have around (affiliate links coming up):
5. HAVE ‘ME TIME’
If you want to stay sane as you balance homemaking and working, then you have to treat yourself to some me time. I do this once a week and it does not have to be expensive. Here are some ideas for you.
It is so hard to find reliable househelp nowadays. When you do find one, you get a 50/50 chance of hiring one who will really take care of your family and your home versus one who will make life a living hell. Not exaggerating! Letting go of househelp was the best decision we ever made in terms of managing our home life. It was a challenge at first, but it resulted to less expenses (that is one less mouth to feed!), less stress, and more family time.
Do you have other tips? Share ’em in the comments section below!