Sunday, March 13, 2011

Surviving Maid-less Days... Months

Every time a maid leaves our employ for one reason or the other, I am forced to think of ways to doing household chores systematically.  I have to have a plan on how to do things so I can do more things in a day.  Aside from things to be done in the house, I still have errands to attend to for our business.  

Wives and mothers based abroad where maids are only for the rich might find what I have to say as trivial.  I understand that they might not have known any other life, that is, a household with a hired help as technology is there to compensate for the absence.  But here in the Philippines, a third world country, embracing technology totally is not yet the norm as infrastructure like a reliable supply of cheap electricity is not yet in place.  Getting  a housemaid is a cheaper alternative.

After a maid leaves, I take over the kitchen automatically, read that:  COOKING  .  Cooking is the most time consuming chore, I cook at least twice a day, compared to dish washing and doing the laundry.  Cooking is the easy part but food preparation is another thing, yes, even if all the ingredients needed for the dish are available.  Below I will be listing down tips on how I survive maid-less days that stretch to months.  Don't get me wrong.  Even if the tips are helpful, I would still hire a maid to do things for me.  Hehehe.

1.  Have a microwave oven pronto.  On an ordinary school day, I wake up one hour before the children's scheduled breakfast time.  I cook only easy to cook breakfast items like ham, sausages, and hotdogs.  If there are leftover foods that survived without being eaten over night, I reheat using my ever reliable microwave oven. Viands that take longer to cook are a no no for me as waking up early for a late sleeper like me is plain and simple torture.  For the rice (my children prefer it to bread for breakfast), I reheat last night's leftover rice again in the microwave oven.  What will I do without my microwave oven?

2.  Hoard cereals and fresh milk.  Cereals and fresh milk are the latest additions to my shopping cart whenever I go to Shopwise Commonwealth.  I buy the biggest size as they come out more economical.  They save the day for me as the kids do not oblige, make that force me, to attend to them in the morning.  They can take care of breakfast, thank you very much.

3.  Have ready to cook (RTC) or ready to eat (RTE) food handy.  Stock up on tinapa, fried fish, canned fish, canned meat, bread, tuna sandwich and chicken sandwich fillings,  cheese, butter.  When you come home late to cook lunch or dinner, eating store-bought food once in a while is forgivable.  Give me a break!

4.  Designate a Cooking Day.  Tuesday is the lightest day of the week as our vehicle is banned on the streets on this day.  Instead of doing errands and what have you that will take me out of the house,  I schedule the general cleaning of the house and cooking marathon on a Tuesday.  I don't do this alone though as my laundrywoman, Vilma, is there to do most of the housework.  My husband also does his share though with the use of his gadgets, the vacuum cleaner and the circular mop that my youngest daughter find so cool.

For Jun and I's trip to Baguio City last week for the Couples for Christ Weekend Conference, I did a cooking marathon with Vilma's help.  After buying fresh fish and vegetables from Commonwealth Market, Vilma started preparing the ingredients to be used for the different viands that I will be cooking.  I prepared a menu for what the kids will be eating while we were away.  Done with the cooking, I stored the food in several plastic containers and kept them in the refrigerator ready for the day to come when they will be reheated using ... ehem... the microwave oven.

5.  Run to Mommy.  When everything doesn't work for utter lack of time or planning, ask the help of your mother.  I just provide Mommy's cook, Encar, all the ingredients needed for the food that I like to be cooked and voila, dinner is ready.    

It also helps that I live a block away from my parents' house.  When the kids do not like the food that I prepared, they scurry to Lola's house sparing me of the complaints and whinings. 

With Mommy and my sister, Joji.
This phenomenon of the scarcity of housemaids is not new to us.  Ever since more developed countries have opened their homes to Filipina domestic helpers and nannies, finding reliable housemaids is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  It is as if housemaids have joined the ranks of the species going extinct.  I will not be surprised if five to ten years from now we will have maid-less households like our Western counterparts.

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