5 ways I am better off without a maid

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This mum was 'spoiled' by having a helper and now she has none! Find out the ways in which she thinks this is working to her benefit...

Maids: we can't live without them... or can we?

When I had my first child, I had no maid. My husband and I managed looking after our child, a dog and a house on our own. We lived in Melbourne, Australia then where there really is no 'maid culture', and anyway, we couldn't have afforded to employ one, even if we wanted to.

Then we came to Singapore and everyone had a helper. I was pregnant with my second child then and was warned that I would not be able to manage with two kids and no helper. Still, I resisted and did everything on my own almost until the end of my pregnancy.

One day, I was 8.5 months pregnant -- so big I couldn't see my own feet -- and there I was, cleaning the floor and thinking "I can't do this anymore". That's when I decided it was time to stop resisting employing an extra pair of helping hands.

So we hired our first-ever maid. Yes, we had some hiccups and teething woes at the beginning. But she stayed on and soon I became quite dependent on her. My sons were very attached to her too, especially my youngest, as she started working for us when he was just a few weeks old.

We had to part ways after almost 4 years, and I moved on to my second-ever helper. She was great... but lasted only 6 months, leaving me frantic without help and feeling like I would collapse with all the work.

The first week or so after she left was honestly terrible.

I was on semi-single mum mode too because my husband travels a lot for work. I had to wake up at the crack of dawn, prepare the kids' breakfasts, snacks for school, cook lunch, feed the dogs, clean the house and attend to hundred of other random little things, all before 7.30am.

And of course, because I am a work-at-home mum, I couldn't neglect my "other" job either. So, yes, it was tough -- really tough actually (and it still is).

But soon, I fell into a routine. Yes, it was a routine where procrastinating for even 10 minutes resulted in chaos for the rest of the day. My routine had to be chop-chop... but it worked.

I was managing and what's more, I even started to appreciate certain things about not having a helper anymore.

So, based on this experience, here are 5 ways I think I am better off without a maid:

1. Trim and toned

Have you ever realised what an amazing work-out housework gives you? Vacuuming, mopping and lifting the laundry basket are great for getting rid of those "tuck-shop arms" we all love to hate.

What's more, climbing up and down steps with said laundry basket in tow is great for the legs, thighs and derriere. Basically, you get an all-body workout every day, whether you like it or not!

Goodbye gym, hello housework...

2. In control and oh-so-organised

Too many of us become super-dependent on our maids to take charge and be in control of our houses, sometimes even the children and their daily routines. I was like this to an extent and when I found myself maid-less, I felt a bit lost in more ways than one at first.

Where was the flour? Where had she kept the knife? But soon, my questions to self were more like, why had she not been cleaning my fridge once a week - how could I have not seen this? Why was she storing the vegetable chopping board and meat chopping board together? Why were my pantry cupboards such a mess?

I realised how much of my household matters I had handed over to her -- happily at the time of course -- and how much I had lost control.

Now, let's just say my home is spotless, I know exactly where my favourite paring knife is  and my mind is sharper than ever because I've had to develop the ability (out of absolute necessity!) to plan out my day to the minute and multi-task like a Boss.

And I think I'd like to keep it this way!

3. The kids learn responsibility

When I had a helper, I really wanted my boys to learn how to do certain things on their own, like cleaning up their room, rather than being dependent on her to do these chores for them.

But honestly, sometimes it was just easier to ask the helper to do these tasks, rather than making myself hoarse, repeating the same request over and over again to get my boys to clean up.

Now, they have no option. I simply do not have the time or energy to clean up their mess (and they make a lot of it), so the rule is they clean up, or their stuff gets chucked out.

It's come to a stage where I don't have to tell them to bring their plates to the sink, put their shoes on the shoe rack, or tidy up their play-room -- and I am so proud of them for voluntarily doing these chores.

I know some day my daughters-in-law will thank me for raising house-trained young men!

4. Privacy regained

One of the main reasons I resisted employing a helper even when heavily pregnant with my second child was because I simply didn't want a third person hanging around in our home.

And I did find it hard to adjust to our helper's presence at first, but soon I got used to her being in the house with us.

Now, without a helper again, I'm enjoying having the house to just myself, hubby and the kids again. Just knock first when you drop by though, okay?

5. Peace-of-mind

I trusted my previous helpers very much, especially with my kids. I knew they wouldn't harm my little ones.

But hearing about recent horrific stories involving helpers abusing and even killing their employer's children got me thinking: how can we be certain a person who has no real ties to our children won't hurt them if they are under a lot of stress, or have mental health issues we are unaware of?

And what about accidents in the home involving kids when they are in the care of the helper? Once, when my first helper was quite new, I caught her napping on the floor of the kids' playroom while my then 2-year-old older son was trying to scale the book-rack!

It was an accident waiting to happen and I would not have forgiven myself if something had happened. Because at the end of the day, my kid is my responsibility, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So while my daily work has tripled in volume -- especially linked to kid-related chores -- I'm happy that I have peace-of-mind, at least when it comes to my boys' safety at home because I have the eyesight of an eagle and the reflexes of a cat!

Mums and dads reading this:

I'm not telling all of you to fire your current helper and manage on your own. I know this is not just practical or possible for most of you.

I can manage because I am lucky enough to work from home, so I am not bound by strict office hours. I also have an amazingly supportive husband who is very hands-on around the house and with the kids, and understanding colleagues -- and this helps me a lot too.

Honestly, I do miss lots of things about having a maid... but let's save that for another day and another article.

And kudos to those millions of mums around the world who manage just fine without additional help at home!

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