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Livin’ La Vida No Yaya: Dealing With A Maid-less Household

June 20, 2012

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 Β and other things. My supermarket Β 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) Β 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?

47 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2012 10:10 am

    The closest thing I’ve experienced to that is having no yaya for the summer. While it didn’t happen this year, it regularly did previous years. And just like you, I dealt with it when it was staring me at the face. That was what my mom always did. If the helpers didn’t want to stay, fine. It’s not as if she couldn’t do the chores, since we, her daughters, help out as well.

    Kudos to you! I will have to cross the bridge when I get there (or “if” hahahaha!).

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 10:47 pm

      That’s what my lola used to tell me: don’t ever make your helpers feel you need them more than they need you or else they’ll abuse your kindness. I used to think that was kinda mean but now I see that she’s really on the side of caution.

  2. June 20, 2012 10:56 am

    congratulations Elai!! S and I did it for a total of 4 months when the kids were young and it is a BIG challenge. great points you raised! I especially agree with the kitchen stuff. E’s current yaya who used to be N’s yaya who used to be our cook killed my Wusthof knife which was a wedding gift from my sister. I wanted to cut her with it! Well, I guess we were able to resolve things because she is still with me almost 5 years na. I think it does help that you live IN Ortigas Center and everything is just a short drive or delivery away.
    ooohh.. crayons and murals on the living room wall.. soon to be The Painter!!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 10:48 pm

      Hahahaha! Same sentiments as my mom whose maid killed her Solingen knife!!

  3. June 20, 2012 11:13 am

    You go girl! We didn’t have any help when we first got married, before I we had our little one. Looking back, there were certainly tough times (although with a child, it would be much more challenging I am sure), but it was really a wonderful time with no domestic help worries that I treasure! You are so right about the cleaning — my fixation is (has always been) dish washing and I can’t take it when I see dishes improperly washed. If I could do the dishes to perfection while managing a full time job, I don’t see why someone whose job is dish washing shouldn’t be as perfect! And yes, the control you have over everything is really fantastic! You rock πŸ™‚

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 10:50 pm

      Hey Joey! Thanks for dropping by. Having no help as newlyweds is fun, fun, fun! Right?? Hehe. And good point here: “If I could do the dishes to perfection while managing a full time job, I don’t see why someone whose job is dish washing shouldn’t be as perfect!” I don’t understand nga. I’m doing everything now at half the time and half the resources. What the heck was I paying her for then?

  4. Lei Sison permalink
    June 20, 2012 11:18 am

    Hi Eliza, I’m in the same boat as you. We just moved into a new house and we’re living on our own for the first time. Never thought we could do it, but, as they say, you never know until you try. I’m surprised myself, but I totally agree with you when you say that it’s a lifestyle I could probably get used to.

    When you only have yourself (and hubby) to rely on, by necessity, you will know what to do first, what you can save for later, and what you can let go of entirely. For example, while I would love a spic-and-span kitchen everytime, I have had to compromise and leave the dirty plates we used for breakfast in the sink (completely submerged in soapy water) when we leave for work in the morning. It saves us time without worrying about insects or pests.

    Thanks for this great post! It sums up the sentiments of a helper-less mom very well. (Let’s both) Hang in there! πŸ™‚

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 10:52 pm

      High five! And yes, I have a big planggana just for soaking the dirty dishes when I have to run out the door!! Kaya natin to!! πŸ˜€

  5. June 20, 2012 11:24 am

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I can’t stop saying wow. High five!

    Julia has a yaya, we have an all-around-maid, and my mother-in-law lives with us… and I am still complaining about managing the household. You are right, sometimes, it is easier to get things done yourself than deal with all the relationship and we-have-to-get-along drama.

    For now, my yaya-less days are only Sunday (I work until Saturday. Boo). I make sure I do everything for Julia. So, I guess for moms who work 8-5, weekends must at least be yaya-less.

    Thanks for sharing Eli!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 10:53 pm

      For working moms, it’s really no choice. Day care is not uso here, and I’m not sure if it will ever be. If we did have day care I have a feeling you would leave the kid with your own yaya anyway, so what’s the point in that.

  6. June 20, 2012 12:53 pm

    I want to have a yaya-less and maid-less household too. But that will be 2 or 3 years from now. I’m still working and Gwen at 1 year old still needs a yaya. But I can feel the freedom whenever our helper/yaya went for a vacation, 1 week of carefree living. We can go to the mall, eat out, go on vacation without worrying what she will eat while we’re away, or worry about her and the house’s security.

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 10:54 pm

      “Freedom” is the right word! You hit that right on the head!

  7. June 20, 2012 1:50 pm

    Oh how I wish I didn’t have to deal with all the yaya drama everyday. But having them around makes everything easier, especially with my three kids. Kudos to you for a job well done:)

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 11:02 pm

      Thank you. πŸ™‚ There are highs and lows to having helpers. If you can live with the lows, the highs are super. But if the lows are a hard limit for me, not worth the stress! My goal is to pass some chores to Basti when he turns 4 so we never need a helper, even with a second child. *crosses fingers*

  8. Ynez permalink
    June 20, 2012 3:17 pm

    I grew up in a household that always had at least 2 helpers around so it was always an issue that my then-fiance and I used to have. I couldn’t imagine not having a helper, and he thought it would be doable. When we got married in 2010, he and I agreed to go helper-less for a few months so he and I could get used to living with one another. Now, almost two years and one baby later, we still don’t have a helper – and I actually prefer it that way! We have our privacy (our place is quite small) and I don’t need to worry about what the helper will do whenever the chores are done or what she’ll eat when I decide to cook a gourmet meal. We have someone who comes over once a week to clean, and we do the laundry ourselves. I do the ironing maybe once a month and my husband and I divvy up the other everyday chores. The only ones who has a problem with it is my mom!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 11:04 pm

      Yes, yes and yes to all your points!! Congratulations to you!! You know what, when I fired our helper, the first thing my parents did was scout around for a new one. It took about two weeks of me telling them that I don’t want one before they understood I was serious. Why is that?

  9. June 20, 2012 3:32 pm

    High fives all around! I hit the staff-less for 6 months mark last May, and I only got new ones this June because we had to move. I can’t pack, move, cook, clean, launder, and take care of 2 kids at the same time all by myself. Even my super powers have limits. Hahaha!

    You know I bought this book called Real Simple Cleaning. It’s awesome. It outlines how you should clean specific rooms in the rooms, in what order, and how to do “daily cleaning” and “general cleaning” (once a month). It gave the nerd in me much joy. Hahaha.

    And it super helps to have a routine/schedule. It made things easier for me, especially since I have two kids.

    I’ll admit that things are easier with a yaya and maid again. I can now watch movies and go on dates with my husband again! Hahaha. But I swear sometimes they make me want to go solo all over again.

    Hats off to you!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 11:05 pm

      That routine/schedule thing, I have yet to learn. I’m still flying by the seat of my pants.

  10. June 20, 2012 4:27 pm

    Saludo ako sayo! How I wish I can have no yaya/s too! But with two kids now, I need them. Pero ang daming drama everyday which I hate. Hubby always complains about how they do things.

    Clap clap!!! Galing talaga!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 11:06 pm

      Hindi ko kaya yung drama Cai. Nakaka-imbyerna. Tumatanda ako sa kanila.

  11. June 20, 2012 9:07 pm

    Clap! Clap! Clap! Kudos to you! I’m yaya-less for more than a week now and I feel like dying. Hahaha! Seriously. It helped that I moved back to my mom’s house now. But honestly, it’s less stressful din in some way. =)

    • Eliza permalink
      June 20, 2012 11:07 pm

      Mom’s house is sanctuary. Haha! πŸ˜€ Thanks!

  12. June 21, 2012 5:29 pm

    Good for you Elai! I come from the opposite end. I was on my own for 11 years when I lived in Spain so when I moved back I swore I would never clean the kitchen or the bathroom ever again! People here always ask me how I survived without a maid or a yaya or both with a 20 month old and a new born. It really is all a matter of organization and scheduling even if that means folding clothes at 9 in the evening when the kids were sleeping. I obviously did not have a twitter account at that time. Also it isn’t as dusty and polluted outside the Philippines, no need for neurotic cleaning. When I had my first child I hired someone to come in once a week to to the neurotic cleaning for me. Three things that aren’t big here that were crucial for me run a household – day care, dishwashers and sleep training.

    Enjoy being the domestic goddess that you are!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 23, 2012 10:39 pm

      I so agree with you re: dust and pollution, and dishwashers! That’s why it’s much easier to have no help in other countries. Include pa better sidewalks for walking to and from everywhere and a better public transportation system. Sigh, I wish it would be better for us here.

  13. June 21, 2012 10:17 pm

    We have been maid-less for the last 3 years and I totally love it. You are correct with your observations and I definitely agree with the groceries lasting longer and not having to worry or think about the maid all the time. It definitely was liberating in a sense. Come to think of it, I really learned how to manage my household and to cook!!

    Another plus, my kids turned out more responsible πŸ™‚

    • Eliza permalink
      June 23, 2012 10:40 pm

      You’re correct on the “more responsible” part! I hope I can do the same with Basti as you’ve done with your kids!! Don’t forget I’ll be bugging you about homeschooling. πŸ˜‰

  14. June 24, 2012 11:42 am

    The reason why I followed your blog, Eliza, is I found another crazy mom who is unconventional like me. My son is almost the same age as Basti. I only had help the first three months after giving birth and that stressed the wits out of me. I’m really better off with no househelp or yaya. I also like the fact that my son is learning to be more independent with no one running after his every move. We are now living in Bangkok for a year and a half. I only have a cleaning lady who comes once a week to do general cleaning and ironing.

    • Eliza permalink
      June 25, 2012 1:06 am

      High five! πŸ™‚ I agree with you about the independence thing. Having no yaya makes the child be aware of their boundaries no? Gosh Bangkok! I miss that place!!

  15. June 25, 2012 6:15 pm

    Hi Eliza, I’m a new visitor and unlike you I have no liberty to send my maids home (even if I want to) coz working full time makes me need them as much as I can. However, I agree with grocery cost getting more expensive since they took over the kitchen! And let’s not even go to the issue of non-stick pans. Haaay 😦 Congrats on yaya liberation!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 26, 2012 11:05 pm

      Yes! I thank my husband that allowed me to have this life. Maybe they should include kitchenware care in those seminars for household help.

  16. candy (cuckoo_sing) permalink
    June 26, 2012 1:40 pm

    wonderful post Eli! it’s not an easy life – but survivor moms will always find a way to hack it. it’s a different kind of independence and freedom!
    i love your small bits of joy… especially the Swiffer! i live in a household WITH help, but I have my own Swiffer, which only I can use πŸ˜› haha. i can imagine i’d have similar “bits” should i be in livin’ la vida no yaya land as well.

    • Eliza permalink
      June 26, 2012 10:51 pm

      You just gave me an idea for a followup blogpost!!! Thanks for the lightbulb moment! πŸ˜€

  17. June 29, 2012 5:39 pm

    You are so spot on! the cucaracha and voldemort bit really made my insides giggle!
    I have been yaya-less and maid less for almost 2 years already and I love it! I do have a weekly manang who helps with the under-the-sink “cucaracha”, the bigger laundry pieces and the bane of my existence “ironing”. One thing more that I love aside from being the queen of the household pots and pans, is the improvement in my daughter’s behavior, she is very happy being my little helper (most of the time) packing away her own “kalat” putting her clothes in the hamper and putting her shoes in the “shoe store”. The “subo” habit, she can still get away with πŸ˜‰

    This yaya-less haven changed a couple of weeks ago, we hired hubby’s distant relative to stay with us and help around since I’m 5 months preggy and already as big as a house. Thankfully she’s easy enough to deal with and was pre-warned about my fluctuating hormones. Another opportunity to practice patience, breathing and counting! hooo hooo heee heee!

    • Eliza permalink
      June 30, 2012 1:00 am

      Haha yey! So did you find the “blind item”? πŸ˜‰

  18. Maui Salang Dulce permalink
    July 16, 2012 10:43 am

    Hi I stumbled upon your blog searching for tips on being a working mom and having a newborn with no househelp. Glad to have read about your and the readers’ experiences. I hope I could do it.

    • Eliza permalink
      July 18, 2012 2:09 am

      You’ll find your groove! Go for it! Good luck. I hope to hear from you again about your journey. πŸ™‚

  19. anywherejourney permalink
    December 19, 2012 8:51 pm

    Yeah I opt for this set up for about 2 years now. I have two girls 12 and 7 and I would say that we are doing fine actually better than fine because my girls became more responsible. I make it a point that they do their share of work around the house. My eldest can now do the laundry (of course with the help of a washing machine) on her own and I’m very proud of her. Household work and our continous organizing around the house has became our bonding moment. I very much agree with the tip above that if you can’t do the work, delegate! This has been my rule ever since I opted to run my household without a household help. I stand with my belief that every household chores that I would do would not be stressful for me or my girls. Surely this is doable here in the Philippines considering a lot of set back as pointed on the wish list above. Mostly I have the same wish, more efficient household equipment, better traffic system etc. But still with all the hardships and constraints opting for this set up is not such a crazy idea.

  20. Edith permalink
    February 21, 2013 9:22 am

    As a newcomer to the maid-less club, I have to say that your article is quite encouraging. I am taking it one day at a time. There are lifestyle changes to be made, but it’s all good.

    • Eliza permalink
      February 21, 2013 1:30 pm

      “One day at a time” is the best way to go! Good luck! You can do it!

  21. Mia permalink
    January 2, 2015 10:48 pm

    How do you survive with no maids if you have a 4 year olds, 8 month old plus a full time job?

    • Eliza permalink
      January 3, 2015 2:24 pm

      I wouldn’t know, haha.

  22. March 11, 2015 1:21 am

    I searched the net looking for articles or blogs that would agree with me. We did not hire a yaya when I gave birth but my husbands aunt hired one for us and she stayed for about 3 months. She didn’t come back after new year. Our house is just the size of a unit in a small condominium. Pretty small but the house gets dirty very easily. I didn’t want a helper because I won’t have my privacy anymore. And sometimes if I ask them to do something, my expectstions are different. Many people are asking why am I not hiring a yaya most especially my son start walking soon and I need to attend to him more often. I work at home doing lunch catering for a group of 15 and developing recipes for future products. I know ome day Im going to need some help. But I dont want to be told that I should hire a yaya for my son. I know it’s challenging but don’t they understand that I want to care of my son? It’s the norm here to have a yaya but I do hope they understand what Im trying to say.

    Thank you for this post.

    • Eliza permalink
      April 27, 2015 10:17 pm

      You’re welcome. You’re not alone!

  23. Jo Gonzales permalink
    July 9, 2015 7:04 pm

    Just came across your article. So spot on! Could’ve written it myself! “Walang forever. Sa yaya”, a friend accurately said. I’ve had six for the past 7 years and I must say I’ve had enough. Training a new one is one of the things that I really dreaded the most as I have my own (practical) way of doing things. Thank you for this article. Running your own home is very empowering indeed. It’s aggravating my OCD a bit, but I’ll choose this setup over the unnecessary drama anytime. It’s refreshing to know that what I chose for us is ‘normal’ and doable; that I’m not crazy (and alone) for preferring this ‘unconventional’ system. Mabuhay tayo!

    PS- Permission to repost this on my wall. TY!

    • Eliza permalink
      July 9, 2015 7:55 pm

      “Walang forever. Sa yaya.” I SO LOVE THAT!!!!


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