Early on in our marriage, we decided not to get hired help. My husband calls it “living the American dream” in the Philippines. I call it independence. Since we both find doing household chores therapeutic, it suited us just fine. We both love the quiet and privacy it afforded us.
When our daughter Mishca came along, we knew things would be different. We’re glad our family allowed us to stay with them as we transitioned into parenthood. Recently, we entered into another season when we transferred to our new home. Yes, it’s just the two of us again and the baby.
Since we’re doing everything ourselves aside from caring for an active toddler, it pays to be organized. Admittedly, we’re still getting there. Here are some things that have helped us in this quest to be independent and keep our privacy (not to mention our sanity!):
Invest in reliable appliances and fixtures that save time and money. Before moving in, we installed a clear roof over our laundry area so that we won’t have to worry about rushing to save our clothes when it rains. We also put inexpensive photocells to our outdoor lights, making them turn on automatically when it gets dark. They also shut off by themselves at dawn. Pretty cool for someone who is always leaving the lights on! (Uhh, that’s me!) I’m also totally enjoying our new washing machine with inverter technology which “sings” when it’s done with the job.
Clean as you go. I read this sign in a fast food at the mall. It’s been our habit ever since. It just means you clean up your mess before you go to the next activity. Make your bed before you rush through your day. Wash the dishes right after cooking or eating. Clean the toilet after taking a bath. This way, every room in your house is spic and span before you leave it.
To make it happen, cleaning materials are discreetly stashed away in almost every room of our tiny house. The surprising thing is it just takes a few minutes to tidy up a space. But let the dirty clothes and dishes pile up and it will take you hours to get them done! Another bonus this habit can bring you is you always have a tidy house to come home to after a long day.
Adopt a self-sorting laundry system. Who likes sorting out dirty clothes? I don’t! And so I developed a simple system of pre-sorting our laundry by using color-coordinated bags. Baby’s white clothes go to the white laundry bag, while the colored ones are put in the red bag. The same goes for our clothes. Come laundry time, we only need to pull out the bags from the hamper and throw them into the wash.
Ask help from the great Helper. Although I put this as my last point, this is in fact on top of my list. I don’t know how we can survive or last a day without the help and assistance of God. Before the day starts, I make it a point to pray and ask God to help me take good care of my family and to prioritize the things that are important to Him. With the demands of motherhood, I sometimes forget and things go haywire. And then I remember that I neglected to pray! Even so, God is gracious enough to extend His help.
The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. He is here to teach us all things, as Jesus had said in John 14:26. I believe that the Holy Spirit is with us not just to teach us about spiritual matters, but all things, including how to keep house and how to keep up with a rambunctious toddler.
Truth be told, I didn’t know how to find time to write this article. When I committed to write for cbnasia.org, the premise was that it would not take time away from my responsibilities as a wife and mother. I didn’t want to sacrifice time with my husband and daughter just to beat a deadline. And so earlier today, I sought God for help, not knowing how I could squeeze in time to sit down and write. Mishca isn’t very happy when I’m always in front of the computer. She’s quite frank about it, oftentimes playfully shrieking at the top of her lungs to peer my eyes away from the screen.
As I put her down for her afternoon nap, I asked God to let her sleep longer. And please, Lord, don’t let her wake up when I get out of bed. My 13-month-old daughter is a light sleeper. God never fails to amaze me. Mishca indeed had a very long nap, giving me time to gather my thoughts and write.
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3) This is an encouraging promise that I hold on to every day, especially now that we are on our own without a yaya or household help to rely on.
Jennifer Caspe-Cocuaco likes to call herself a dreamer and visionary by night and a magazine writer and TV producer by day. Her work has appeared in various publications, and she also has produced and directed for The 700 Club Asia and other TV projects. All these had to take a backseat in favor of the most important roles in her life to date—being a wife and mom. Follow her domestic adventures at mommysolutions.blogspot.com.