Not long ago, I mentioned how I was going to get my boys to help out more at home, in a bid to lighten my load and train them to be more independent.
Shortly after blogging about it, I set to work and 'trained' them for different tasks. At first they just had to do easy tasks like fold and put away their own laundry and transfer their dirty laundry from the basket in their room into the bigger basket which I stored in the utility area.
A little later, I started Chip on simple dusting around the house which he took great pride to complete. And by chance, I discovered that M was actually rather good at cleaning the floor. I made him clean a small area with a rag one day as a punishment for his bad behaviour (I shan't elaborate but the punishment was befitting the misbehaviour).
After some coaxing, M helped out a few more times and did a fabulous job wiping the the floor.
However, after the 5th time, I had to dangle a bigger carrot. Coaxing and praises were no longer good enough. So I rewarded him with 50 cents after each cleaning. Yes, I paid my son which he swiftly saved in his piggy bank.
I rationalize to myself that it is still good practice in exchange for a reasonably clean living room. Through this, I can also take the opportunity to teach my boy the importance of hard work and earning his own keep.
But while the boys' chipping in makes a little difference, it doesn't lighten my load significantly enough. It is to be expected, I suppose.
I talked to lots of friends and neighbours about their recent experiences, hoping to gain some inspiration and motivation from them. Still I couldn't decide. I also tried out a part-timer who came in once a week for 3 hours. In fact, I tried two helpers in a span of 7 weeks. Both were hopeless and unreliable. Each time after they left, the house was back to its original state by the end of the day. It was as if there was never any help at all.
I started to feel increasingly frustrated with my lack of time to pay attention to the kids which to me, was a clear signal that I had to reassess my priorities. I didn't even mind the fact that I had virtually no me-time. But having so little time for the boys was getting to me in a big way.
While it is possible to handle the housework and 3 kids and still find time to coach them like I did in the last few months, I know too well that the 'quality' just isn't comparable to before. When I consider my priorities, which places spending quality time and coaching the kids right at the top of my list, I know some form of rebalancing is in need.
So after months of inner struggle, I made a drastic decision.
I caved in.
She is coming in a few days' time.
Frankly, I am nervous and a little apprehensive. OK, I think I am feeling more anxiety than I like to admit.
Even before she arrives, I am already worried about the potential problems and conflicts that I have to face in a few weeks' time when we have visitors staying with us for an extended period.
These very same visitors who meddled with the way I managed my former maid 5 years ago, challenged the house rules that I laid out more than once with ignorant comments such as 'shouldn't the maid stop working at 5 pm and be allowed to watch TV during the day time? etc' and gave her gifts and money behind my back and told her not to tell me (which to me violates the basic guest etiquette of showing respect to the host) etc.... The list goes on.
The weeks long saga caused me so much stress and unhappiness back then. Just being reminded again is enough to sour my mood. Darn.
I can only be hopeful that the guests will be wiser now, 5 years on, and NOT interfere with my relationship with this new maid. Be the guest and never annoy the host.
Alas, I can only be optimistic and pray hard that Lady Luck decides to shine on our household this time. May this maid be better and the guests behave right.