It’s Day 7 since I sent the helper back to the agency after she demonstrated how weak-willed and unwilling to work she was. It’s the longest I’ve ever been without a helper since I’ve had three kids, and it’s going to be this way a while more at least.
There’s just one word to describe it all.
On the brighter side of things, I now have a list of 10 things I never really say but now say so very often, 10 things I’ve discovered since maid-less, and 10 things I am eternally grateful for. I’m exhausted, but that ain’t gonna stop me from making lists, and more lists.
10 things I never really say, but say so often now:
1. “I’m ONLY ONE person now, kids. So please (fill in the blanks).” Usually it’s “cooperate”, “do it yourself”, “help me out here” or “follow instructions quickly”.
2. “Do I look like I’ve got an extra pair of hands or legs?” This is usually in response to the kids making requests like finding a lost toy or picking a book off a shelf they can’t reach – and always at a time when I am unavailable to help. I now make them solve their problems – by taking a stool, using a torch, and getting help from the other siblings.
3. “My back is breaking.” Self-explanatory. Said whenever I feel my back is breaking. Which is very often.
4. “Seriously. Like seriously.” Said whenever the kids start fighting for my attention or squabble amongst themselves whenever I am at my busiest.
5. “Sorry I can’t sayang / hug / cuddle / kiss you now. My hands are full of soap.” The kids always seem to have a boo-boo for me to kiss whenever I am washing the dishes.
6. “Can you please wait? I can only do one thing at a time.” I can’t dry three wet kids at the same time but it’s always the same time they want to get out of the bath. And they get really upset who gets to be towel-dried first.
7. “Want to watch TV?” I usually never offer much but ever since we became maid-less… It was something that had to be so that I can cook / hang the laundry / do the dishes / wash the toilets. SIGH.
8. “Aunties are a privilege. Now no Aunty so please do it yourself.” Said to the kids whenever they revert to suddenly not being able to do what they can do on their own and asking for help, like wearing their socks and shoes and bringing things back to the kitchen.
9. “Too bad! No Aunty!” Said as a taunt after #8 and when a tantrum is thrown for not getting help.
10. “Are you going to give me problems? Are you seriously going to give me problems now?!” This can be said in an exasperated tone, in a furious manner or in a totally resigned style when the kids start to act up or refuse to do the things as they are told.
10 things I discovered, since going maid-less:
1. If children don’t test boundaries, they won’t be children.
2. If children don’t make a mess, they won’t be children.
3. If children can learn instinctively how to clean up, sort and organise, they won’t be children.
4. That children CAN be taught to clean up, sort and organise, and they HAVE TO BE taught; and this ability comes with age and a sense of responsibility.
5. That Ben is as OCD as I am, and I can always count on him to pack in the OCD way I’ve trained him to.
6. That going on all fours to mop to the house with a cloth and a pail of water is faster than using the vacuum cleaner and then the mop.
7. That it’s OK to wash the children’s laundry together with ours.
8. That if I told the children I’m gonna be turning into a monster they would do as quickly as they are told.
9. That the children can watch Frozen or Lego Star Wars: The Movie again and again, and be completely engaged even if it’s their 18th time watching it because they are really watching it to repeat the lines after each character.
10. That even if Frozen or Lego Star Wars: The Movie is on, the littlest will still come and hug my legs and not give me a break; either that or he will be up to some mischief somewhere in the house, like wetting tissue papers at the basin, flipping his (cloth) “roti prata” up the ceiling or colouring the switches in the house with crayons. Why am I not surprised. The most he can sit through is the ‘Let It Go’ song.
10 things I am eternally grateful for…
1. Forgiving and accepting children, whom I can always count on to remind me not to yell.
2. Helpful children who will try to help out as much as they can.
3. The husband, who’s a solid rock for the family and me, and who would gamely whip up a three-course dinner in a stuffy kitchen complete with jazz music and a glass of red, and then help to clean up and put the kitchen back in order.
4. Kitchen appliances that help automate processes and simplify things. I officially love our bread machine, washing machine, Espresso machine, microwave and Philips Airfryer on a whole new level now.
5. This contraption from Tupperware (whoever who gave me this gift, bless your soul!) that allows me to dice my garlic and shallots in 30 seconds which I can store and keep in the fridge for later use. You know how troublesome it is with Chinese cooking, with all the garlic, shallots, ginger and all.
6. Supplements that give me a little extra ounce of energy and makes me feel more recharged every morning.
7. This wonderful invention called the jigsaw puzzle which keeps the kids engaged for at least 10 minutes. A few minutes of silence is always a good thing.
8. Educational resources like these which I use to keep kids occupied and improvise for our homelearning (no time to create and make new things!): flashcards, magnetic word and shape strips, counters and activity books with colouring, mazes and word search.
9. Community libraries all over Singapore. We can always pop in one of those in the day to escape from the sweltering heat, nestle into one of those comfy couches and read away.
10. Young Living’s ‘Peace and Calming’ Essential Oil. This blend magically calms me down and helps me unwind. At first it smelled really strange. But then I grew to like it so much I need it to help me sleep. And I sleep very well because of it.