I have been asked how many maidS we have many times. And when they find out that we have none, they gape in shock. I guess managing a large household with 5 young children and no outside help is an oddity in maid-dependent Singapore. 🙂
Managing a large household with no maid
How I managed the house has changed and evolved over the years as we have been blessed with more children and as the children have grown up.
Also, we used to live in a small 2-bedroom, 1,200 square foot house from child #1 to #4. We moved in to a 1,500 square foot, 2 level, 4-bedroom, maisonette last December (2005). The larger space forced me to adjust my routine.
If you are non-Singaporean and reading this, you may be puzzled as to why this is such a big deal Well, most Singaporeans have either a live-in maid, a part-time maid (comes in 1 to 3 times per week) or parents/parents-in-laws helping out. To raise children, do housework, and cook without any outside help is a rarity in Singapore. Throw in homeschooling to the mix and people just about fall flat on their faces wondering if you are some kind of a wonder woman or a mad one. 🙂 I am neither!
And just to be clear – we didn’t want a live in maid. Space is a problem. Privacy another. And of course, having a maid meant that I had one more person to manage.
With Baby #1
When I had only 1 child, I would do all the housework and meal preparation when he took his morning nap. When he had his afternoon nap, I would quickly prepare dinner and then jump into bed to take a nap too! Ah… Looking back, I can most certainly say that those were the easy days. I was also most productive since I had only those 2 windows to get everything done.
With Baby #2 and #3
Then we were blessed with Baby #2. During that pregnancy, I had very bad backache from the first trimester. Doing housework would put me out an entire day and a half! So things had to change.
We employed a part-time helper who would come in once a week to vacuum and mop the house, dust, as well as iron the clothes. Daily household chores were still done by me.
This modus operandi continued with child #3. This helper was a gem! She would clean my windows for me and even remind me to wash my curtains! Wow!
But in the week that baby #4 was due, (end-April), Shanti told me that she could only stay until the end of May. Although disappointed, I thought everything would work out since that would still allow me to rest for about a month, post delivery. That did not happen.
With Baby #4
Esther decided that she was going to buck the trend of her older siblings who arrived before their estimated due dates (EDD). She chose to arrive 5 days past her EDD, in May.
She was born on a Thursday. The helper had already come in the Tuesday before Esther’s birth. So she won’t be in until the coming Tuesday. So I thought – oh great! The house would be clean again soon.
I was to be disappointed. The helper never turned up!
And so that is how I ended up not having a part timer helper even as our family continued growing.
Since May 2003, (children were then newborn, 16 months, 3 years old and 5 years old) we all learnt to handle the house on our own. In the process, I discovered that both self-discipline and being unable to function in a messy house are helpful traits to have!
Because an untidy house makes for an unsettled home so I had to think of ways to do it without going crazy.
Want to know how I tackle the nitty gritties of housework? check out:
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***First published 7 February 2008. Updated 18 July 2017***