Why I’m Saying No to ‘Yaya’

Let me start by saying, I have nothing against Yayas (stay-in Nannies/nursemaids) in general. Being a Yaya or a Katulong (maid) is a profession worthy of respect, as like all service oriented professions it is one of the hardest (and sadly the most exploitable and least professional–at least here). My issue, is how we take to the use of Yayas and Katulongs in general.

As someone who grew up having both a nanny and a maid in our household, one would think that I’d be more open to the idea of hiring one in the future. The opposite can’t be more true, if anything my experiences had taught me some very valuable lessons and guidelines when it comes to hiring, which unfortunately translate to: hiring one for long term is a VERY BAD IDEA.

Bad Habits in Children 

There’s a lot of convenience in having a stay-in nursemaid or maid. It’s one of the reasons why so many households employ them.

If both parents are working–like mine did when I was young–it allowed both parents to pursue their careers while ensuring their children are well taken cared of. In Theory.

Sure your children are watched over (hopefully), they are clean, safe, and fed but I wonder if any of them consider other aspects of child rearing which usually includes their emotional, and intellectual growth.

As a parent (or would be or hopeful parent), we all want our children to grow-up independent. We all know deep down our children can’t be dependent on us forever, whether by disease, accidents or old age we want our children to be okay when we’re no longer around. But if we raise them early on to be dependent on their nursemaids to do everything for them, then what happens to them when they’re older?

Good habits start young. Start them young.

Which comes my follow up:

Your Nursemaids have no disciplinary power over your children.

Lets all agree that no parent in his or her right mind will grant such a thing to any nursemaid. Sure she’s paid help but in the end of the day, she’s still a stranger. Your nursemaid’s views on discipline may be quite different from the parents’. At best, they’ll just allow your children to run rampant like hooligans, at worst they’ll end up enforcing corporal punishment on your children without you knowing.

Kids are sharp too. They can sense that your nursemaid has no real disciplinary power over them, they’re not Mommy and Daddy after all. So combine that with absentee parents and you get children learning from the get-go they don’t need discipline in their lives.

Have fun dealing with that once they get older.

Lazy Parenting

This was one of my gripes when people employ long term nursemaids. The assumption that it’s your nursemaid’s job to rear your children, including instilling good habits and values, discipline and education–basically things the parent should be doing, fall on to the nanny’s shoulders.

Reality check people.

Nursemaids don’t give a rats ass about your kid’s emotional, psychological, and mental well being. They are paid to do the job only as far as their contracts tell them to. This does not include loving your children, entailing the sacrifices to ensure their well being. It is still some stranger’s child in their eyes.

But I think what’s more heart breaking, is watching your child have a much closer bond with their nannies as compared to their own parents. Where in the child’s eyes, the parent has become the stranger, preferring the comfort and the touch of someone else. I don’t know how parents think this is perfectly acceptable.

Stranger Danger In Your Own Home

This is one of my biggest concerns in employing help. Employing long term household help, especially without proper supervision, is opening the flood gates to abuse in your own home. Theft, fraud, misconduct, habitual neglect and even criminal behavior can happen without you knowing, and your children as potential victims.

I actually experienced this as a child. My parents were very career oriented, their executive positions in their respective companies and career outlook meant long hours away from home. Coming home late in the evenings, sometimes just long enough to catch me before I went to sleep.

That usually means the household help had a run of the household for a majority of the week. My parents did their best of course in maintaining control of the household but it can’t be denied that if the household help decided to up and leave, we’d be a mess.

Sadly, this also opens to abuse as I have experienced. I’ve never had a yaya that could be considered kind to me. The best I’ve had would at least do their job of seeing to it that I’m clean, fed and relatively uninjured, but usually I was left on my own devices. The worst of them, have made it a sport to terrify me and several have physically hurt me.

At one point, I even had to resort to self-defense: stealing a sharpened stick/pole once to keep my abusive nursemaid away from me. This happened when I was very young, I think I was 6 or 7, and it happened on a summer’s morning right after I watched my parents’ cars pull away from the driveway which left me alone in the house with a terror.

Her misdeeds eventually caught on and got her fired, but by then damage’s been done.

Just remember, nursemaid or maid, you’re still employing a stranger in your home. Don’t let them rule your house hold, and don’t trust them implicitly. Holding a healthy amount of caution will go a long way.

The Moral Quagmires In Hiring

Often times, hiring a yaya or a katulong is done through connections. Someone’s caretaker, friend, neighbor’s own maid would recommend someone they knew in need of employment. If you don’t know anyone who can recommend you, you can resort to hiring through man power agencies.

My experience with using either method has never been pleasant. Often times, they sent poor, young (as young as 14 or younger), often uneducated, unskilled, women from far flung provinces to be employed as domestic helpers.

The sad part is no one really batted an eye or exclaimed indignation at such a practice (until very much recently). The same household that would go ‘poo-poo’ over the issues of child labor in Africa or China, would they themselves hire children to do their laundry and clean their house. And this was the norm back then, I’m just glad now that more and more people are considering hiring minors as domestic helpers as unacceptable.

I’m thankful that the “Domestic Workers Act (Republic Act no. 10361)” has recently been pushed through. This law was passed to ensure the rights of domestic helpers. I just wish there was a law that would protect them from abusive agencies. According to some of our previous hires/previous household help, these agencies would often ask for atrocious cuts from their already meager salary and have these women dorm in cramp, often inhumane sounding conditions while they wait for employment. The employer of course, doesn’t really know of all these until much later, and much too late.

Lack of Good House Keeping Appliances

In a country where you can find the latest smart phone in every department store in this country, and where the every man probably owns a cell phone, it’s kind of weird when you look at the house hold appliance sections, it’s woefully inadequate..,primitive even.

To give you an idea, no one sells dishwashers here. At all. If there is one, it probably belongs to a very upscale furniture/appliance showrooms. You know the kind that probably cost almost the same as your car.

Labor in the Philippines is dirt cheap compared to other countries. And you’ll be guaranteed that every other middle class household had at least a maid, or had a maid growing up. Since the usual chores of cleaning is taken up by the maid, you can imagine that there is no real market for such appliances here. And if by some act of god that they do sell it, the price tag is usually atrociously expensive.

As a housewife, you would literally toil to get any of your chores done. Being completely maid free is not an option here. Ever. No matter how much I want to, that’ll never be a realistic option especially when we decide to have kids.

Plans for the Future

Tentative plans on how to deal with nursemaids is actually finding a house closer to relatives, and in-laws. Shared time babysitting by relatives is often a far more ideal option than hiring a stranger. I’m also hopeful that cleaning companies will eventually service outside the city I currently live in. This is my ideal solution, as this would mean preserving my privacy while having someone help in keeping the house clean.

This is probably why I’m envious of my husband’s family. They do have a long time house hold help who was loyal, skilled and trusted. She helped raise him and his siblings and still works (part time since she also works for his relatives) for them. These kind of help are hard to find, sort of like mining in a coal mine and finding a diamond in there.

I call that “special exceptions” to my own personal experiences.

Sadly my experience has only made me paranoid and distrustful, that the very idea of help staying at my house alone fills me with dread. I’m hoping that my future would allow me other options, until then I’ll enjoy my peace of mind and my ‘yaya free’ home.

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