We finally decided to let the house helper go rather than risk more broken appliances. The feeling of relief after she left was overwhelming. At the same time, it hasn’t been easy making adjustments.
My sleeping pattern was suddenly disrupted and I often feel like falling asleep in front of my laptop. When there was a house helper, I could go back to bed after cooking the kids’ packed school lunches. In fact, as much as possible, I set aside a portion of the dinner so that the house helper would only need to reheat it for the kids’ baon. That way, I didn’t have to get up at 6.00 a.m. But…
This is the fourth day that I had to be up before 6.00 a.m. The first three days have been especially tough because I wasn’t used to sleeping earlier than 3.00 a.m. I was averaging two to three hours of sleep and still had to contend with deadlines for my op-ed column in Manila Standard Today. Last night, for the first time in a long, long, long time, I was finally able to fall asleep before midnight so I didn’t feel so lightheaded today.
It’s not that I have to do ALL the house work. I’ve made arrangements so that the ironing lady doubles as cleaning lady. She comes in four times a week, for half a day each time, to do the cleaning and ironing. But the laundry, well, that’s my domain now (we have a fully automatic washing machine, anyway). Then, there’s the never ending washing and cleaning in the kitchen. This last chore, ironically, turned out to be a good thing.
When we had that last house helper, I stayed away from the kitchen as much as I could. I only went there to cook and that was it. I didn’t linger. I didn’t experiment. To be quite honest, her presence there irritated me because she was a constant reminder of all the broken kitchen appliances, dishes, drinking glasses… I felt jittery every time I had to mount the camera on the tripod to take photos of the food because I felt that one sudden movement from her and my Rebel XT would be history.
Now that there’s just me in the kitchen, the food blog gets updated more often than any of my other blogs, or even more often than all of my other blogs combined. It’s been one experiment after another. The kids have been bringing home-baked goodies for recess. In short, it is true in this case that every bad situation has at least one positive angle.
I raised my daughters with no yaya nor house helper. We only hired one when I went back to work after eight years. And, after we moved here to the suburb and I quit working permanently, we were okay without a house helper for over two years. It’s manageable, actually, except that we — the kids, especially — will miss going on family out-of-town trips again. It just isn’t wise to leave the house empty overnight or, worse, for several days. This is the Philippines and the peace and order situation is no joke. A neighbor lost a brand new vehicle because he made the mistake of leaving it outside the gate overnight. Our washing machine was stolen during our first year here. We couldn’t believe that the robbers lifted the bloody thing over the fence but, apparently, they did.
So, you get the picture when I say that we’d rather not leave the house empty. That’s really one of the most serious reasons for wanting to have a house helper — to act as taong bahay so we could go on short trips, an activity we really love to do as a family.
At any rate, no situation is permanent. There’s bound to be a solution and we just have to find it. Whether it means moving to a safer neighborhood or hiring another house helper, or both.