Well, at the end of the day, as I always tell those who ask, it's really up to you...
I never really had a maid, a live-in one at least. When I was working, I used to send Esfahan to Lolak, our very sweet upstairs neighbour who used to watch over the other neighbour's children while they (parents) were at work. Lolak, or Aunty Maria, was the best. She would care for, feed and educate all the children. All I had to do was send Esfahan upstairs every morning before I leave for work, along with his change of clothes, milk, foods, and toys/books, and when I came back to fetch him after work, it was like he'd spend the whole day at a kindergarten playhouse class. Esfahan was with Lolak from 4mths to 4yrs!
Then we moved away from there and we said goodbye to Lolak. I had also left my job and became a Stay-At-Home-Mom. I had just had Damascus and though things were hectic, I still managed. Of course, I hadn't yet embarked on JulesFudgyliciousness then. But, overall, things were sane and orderly. So, it can be said that for about 1full year, I managed fairly successfully with 2 kids and a hubby, on my own.
But by the time Marrakesh came, I needed an extra pair of hands. Esfahan had started kindy, and Damascus was starting to walk, run, climb and jump all at the same time. So, one fine day, like it was meant to be, walks by a pleasant Indonesian lady, asking if there was any opportunity for her to offer us her service in housekeeping and childcare, on a daily basis, 8am-6pm, Mondays-Saturdays, for a reasonable fee. I welcomed her with open arms!
After the probationary month, I was confident enough to leave the boys alone with Ati, while I went out to run errands and rekindle my networking. Yes, she was wonderful, the boys loved her, and our home was kept neat and clean. But after a year passed, and as the boys grew, she began to show signs of low morale. Then came her problems, missing her kids back at her kampung and oh so many other things. I kept my cool, coz I figured that she is only human and it is normal for any human beings to go through all those things. Then after 2 years, she started to grow tired of minding the boys, she was more focused on cleaning house, even though I had firmly told her that she must focus on the kids, don't care if the house is messy. But I would come home after my errands to find the boys jumping up and down in their room upstairs, while she was busily scrubbing the bathroom floor downstairs. There was also one occasion when Marrakesh had cut his own hair! He was only 2+!
I didn't quickly let her go, coz she was actually a very nice and caring person, and she had been with us 3 years. But when she asked to discontinue her service one fine day after Raya 2009, I didn't stop her. I just wished her well and hoped that she finds peace and happiness.
So, since then, I've been doing my stuff during that tiny window I have while the boys are in school in the morning. I fetch Esfahan at 1.15pm, feed him and see to his needs. I then go out again at 3pm to fetch Damascus and Marrakesh from kindy, all showered, fed and napped. On days when I'm bogged down with massive brownies or gift orders, I ship the boys off to my parents in Klang, but only for 2-3 days at a time. My parents are 70, and they too don't have any live in maid, just a cleaner who comes by twice a week, 3hours each time, to help them keep their house in order. My boys are more independent now, and I have trained them to care for themselves as best as they can, eg. getting their own milk from the fridge and warming it up in the microwave, washing their own cups and plates, taking their own showers, and Esfahan helps a great deal, like a true Abang Long. Yes, they do their best, but they are still boys in their true sense, so I'm still going around picking up after them. Exhausting, and these days I'm lucky to get 5-6hours of sleep at night, but at least it's not as stressful as having to deal with a maid.
And yes, it was stressful dealing with a maid, and I had mine only during the day, so I can't imagine the rest of you who have to deal with them day in day out! Now I run my home according to my own standards, not as how she feels she wants to do it. I do not ruin my Tefal frying pan with a metal spatula; and I hang my washings in the nice, cosy area that I've especially allocated for laundry, not on the next door neighbour's clothes line, just because the other maid says I can. And I no longer get things like, "kenapa tidak buang saja semua sampah ni, susah-susah saja nak asing-asingkan kertas, tin, plastik, kaca." Yes, the house gets messy, but my boys are safe and I am happy, and things are done MY way!
Maybe I am among those who are just unlucky with maids, or I am simply too demanding and bossy. I still get help once a week to clean the bathrooms, dust and wipe, sweep and mop, and scrub the front porch.
On the downside, not having a maid means I've had to reduce my nights out, with only darling husband attending most of the khenduris and dinners. And I now have to plan my schedules and year plan more carefully. This can get rather annoying, but for me, it sure beats having to deal with the stresses of a maid.