Life in Singapore

Lessons from Mary

ironingNow that I am back in America, I have a few thoughts and lessons I have learned from my helper, Mary.

Use the iron.
I will admit it. Before I had a helper, I almost never used the iron. Who knew the iron was for more than just waxing your skis? Turns out I like my clothes ironed. I like it a lot. They look better and last longer. I have decided to iron the clothes. Will I iron my panties and pajamas? Probably not. I will, however, make sure our clothes look nice.

Organize the cleaning tasks by day.
Turns out if you commit that certain days of the week are for a particular task, it is easier. For example, splitting laundry up into two different days works well. Monday change the sheets and wash. Tuesday wash clothing. Wednesday do some ironing, and so on.

Prep the food before cooking.
This one may seem obvious to you, but I was the type of cook that would cut up the onion while the oil was getting hot. If you do all of the chopping ahead of time, even hours ahead of time, the cooking part of the task goes more smoothly. Now I prep dinner while the kids are at school/camp.

Clean up in the morning.
I have been doing things all wrong. I would laze around in the mornings and spend the afternoon cleaning up. Doing the cleanup first thing in the morning makes for a nice relaxing afternoon and gives you a break before the kids come home.

Having control of my kitchen and laundry is kind of nice after all.
Did I enjoy having someone clean for me every day? You betcha! Did I enjoy having meals ready when I returned from a day of activities with the kids? Absolutely. Did I like it when my clothes got washed in hot water, or my swimsuit got thrown in the dryer, or my banana bread was made with a $20 bottle of olive oil? Not really. Did I like having my appliances broken or my kitchen tools destroyed by someone who didn’t have to pay to replace them? Nope, that wasn’t my favorite thing either. Am I certain now that my dishes are washed in hot water and my kids are getting a healthy snack? Yes, that part is nice now. Bottom line, some things are better done yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually want to do any of this myself. I LOVED the luxury of having a live in maid. Here it is an unobtainable luxury for most of us, though, because you can’t have a live in maid in the USA for $550-650 a month. That ship has sailed. Until I am back in Asia, though, I will take my lessons from Mary and hope it makes DIY a little more tolerable.


  1. When i first got married i was a homemaker and there are still some things i really miss about having a really organised kitchen, knowing and being involved in my local area, keeping everything beautiful….thats not to say i loved everything, but when you get into it there are great parts. I hope you are getting into your swing in the US again, i keep looking at your older posts for our move.

  2. I’m an expat living in Sg now and don’t have a helper for a couple reasons. I wanted to ask you if you ever felt uncomfortable about having your helper living in the “maids quarters” off your condo. The space we have for a helper is about the size of a closet and isn’t air conditioned. Thanks for any feedback.

    1. I get where you are coming from. I had the same reservations at first, but the when I started interviewing I asked them what their living quarters were like in their current situation and back home. I interviewed maids who slept on a mat in the kitchen floor, who slept on the floor in the children’s rooms, or shared a room with another maid in close quarters. At home in the Philippines they often had shared beds with siblings, dirt floors, and cold water only in their homes. I realized that the room I offered, with a new comfy bed and a dresser, however small, and air conditioning, was a space they could call their own and I never had a complaint.

  3. Thank you so much for your blog. I read the whole thing just now and feel so much more informed on life in Singapore. We are an American family with two boys, 8 and 10, moving to Singapore in December from Shanghai. The boys have been accepted into Stamford and I am researching housing now. You have provided me with a lot of useful information and it is very much appreciated!

  4. We would love to know what building you lived in. I am moving from Miami and have heard that the Holland Village area would meet all of my families needs.

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