Archive for the ‘Yaya Chronicles’ Category

So it’s week two with no yaya…. And because I am a worry wart, I obsess about it. But we are actually doing just fine.

We’ve just had to rearrange our schedules to fit in cooking times during the day, while cleaning and laundry have their own schedules during the week.

To tell the truth, my parents raised five children with no household help. We did have a very sturdy Sharp washing machine that lasted about twelve years, long enough for all of us to reach some semblance of adulthood, and a laundry lady that came twice a week to iron our mountains of clothes. My dad, who cooks to relax, did all the cooking while my mom, who was (still is) a neat freak, took charge of the cleaning. They had five little assistants, of course.

That experience served me well when I went off to university, and later on when I started working. I knew how to take care of myself. But I must admit that ever since we had the Babii, we’ve always had someone to help us out: parents, in-laws, siblings, aunts, etc.– Filipino social support system at its best. This is our first time, in a foreign country, to have none of that kind of support.

Well, so far, so good. We actually quite enjoy our little team of three– everyone stepped up to the plate, even the Babii who often had to be reminded of everything (“Comb your hair!” “Brush your teeth!” “Feed your piggies!”). I guess we are also soooo lucky that we have a good natured child who doesn’t complain about chores. Or anything much.

But perhaps I speak too soon. Let’s see what the teenage years bring.


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We Filipinos love our yayas (nannies). They are a godsend for both working and stay-at-home moms.

If we are lucky, our yayas become more than just caregivers; they become part of our families. But sometimes we are not so lucky, and we end up having to deal with persons who, at best, don’t exactly meet our needs or, at worst, invade our lives and disrupt our well-being.

Most of us have grown up with a yaya at one point or another. The first yaya I remember is Bibing, who took care of me and my brothers for about 8 years before she left to get married. We loved Bibing dearly and her departure left a huge void in our lives.

It was hit and miss after Bibing. We had a yaya who said she could hear voices (she only lasted a few days). Another one stole our clothes (this one lasted a few weeks until we realized we were slowly running out of clothes). Some showed up for work at their pleasure, while some didn’t want to work at all, like the Shnufflebubby’s first yaya who slept more than I did, watched TV all day and kept asking me when we were moving in with R’s parents where life was better (duh?!?).

We also had a few good yayas. One, whom I considered a second mother, left for Bahrain, though. Another one married our grandparents’ driver. Another one didn’t want to take care of kids past a certain age.

So early on I realized that no matter how good (or bad) a yaya was, they didn’t last. Chalk it up to human nature, I guess. We all have to move on. And I decided it was better to learn to do things on my own, so that my fate was not tied to the availability of someone who would do things for me.

It’s easy enough when you’re single, but once you have kids, the entire paradigm shifts. You NEED an extra pair of hands to take care of the household while you earn a living. And since day care isn’t a big thing back home, we need the ever dependable yaya.

Bringing in another person to become a part of your lives is a major step and requires careful thought and consideration. You would need someone who is capable and trustworthy, gentle and kind, firm enough to keep the kids in line, but not too firm to overrule your decisions.

You would need someone who knows how to cook, is tidy and keeps the house clean, loves kids, and remembers to feed the pets. You would need someone who is mature enough not to covet your or your daughters’ things, but young enough to be able to work. If you are lucky, you won’t have to deal with the whole drama of borrowed money, sick family members in the province, or lecherous boyfriends.

In other words, a super yaya.

But since human beings aren’t perfect, we learn to come to terms with what we are willing to put up with (i.e. a cranky disposition once a month, cooking bacon when you asked for eggs, a compulsive need to go to church everyday) and what we are not (stealing, lying, bringing strange men into the house).

I admit, I didn’t learn how to manage household staff until very recently. The managing of household staff and the Shnufflebubby’s caregivers for the first few years I credit all to my MIL and her wealth of experience. When I started managing my own household I had my own set of misadventures, but that deserves another post all on its own.

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