The good thing about raising in the Philippines is you can hire a stay-in babysitter who will take care of your children while you are at work. We call them Yayas.
In Manila, there are yayas for newborn babies, and yayas for toddlers. The price for newborn babies are higher than that for toddlers. Many yayas prefer to take care of newborn babies as they are easier to manage and are less makulit (mischievous).
“Kaya ko namang magpuyat,” one yaya told us. “Ayaw ko lang ng salbahe or malikot.”
Translation: It’s fine for her to be awake at night, taking care of the baby. She just doesn’t want a well-mannered or hyperactive kid.
The great thing about yayas are they are helpers. Meaning, they assist us so our children are well taken care of and safe while we bring home the bacon.
The bad thing about yayas is, because of their position of taking care of our children, they can hold the parents hostage if the babies grow up to be too dependent on their caregivers.
Many of my friends leave their babies to the yayas. It is the yayas who spend the most time with the baby, from the time they wake up, to the time they go to bed at night. It is not uncommon for the babies to sleep with the yayas so that the parents can get a good night sleep.
Here is a Singaporean ad that highlights how maids have taken over our children’s lives:
It’s mostly the parents’ fault but given the time our maids spend with our kids, they are bound to know our children’s ins and outs more than us.
Personally, I never thought of myself as a good mother. There are more hands-on mothers out there who are way better than me.
But I count myself lucky to 1) be able to bring my baby with me to work, and 2) have a lazier yaya who doesn’t mind when I take care of my child. If I do the work, then she can twiddle on her phone and Facebook her friends.
Hence, even though we have a yaya, our baby looks for me instead of the yaya. We don’t have a problem when yaya goes on her day off (which is twice a month), and baby is happy being carried by myself and my husband.
Then again, our baby is exclusively breastfed and co-sleeps with me, which is why she has remained independent of yaya despite yaya’s best intentions to make baby dependent on her.
Other parents aren’t so lucky (or unlucky)…
Without yaya, they are in tatters. Baby cries when the mother holds him, and it’s really difficult for the parents when yaya goes on a day-off because yaya is the primary caregiver.
It’s very common for parents to fight with the yaya. Mothers get protective of their babies and don’t like that their babies love the yayas more than them.
But what can you do?
If you leave your baby mostly to yaya, the baby will think of yaya as the primary caregiver.
Personally, I like it that my baby isn’t too dependent on our yaya.
On the downside, I have to bring her with me ALL the time. Even on business trips, I have to bring her with me. And anyone who’s brought babies anywhere know just how hard it is.
On the upside, when yaya leaves, there are no painful adjustments or tearful goodbyes.
My yaya has been with us since baby was born, and announced one day off the blue that she had to leave this week because she has to go home to the province.
That’s the problem with yayas — when they want to leave, no matter how illogical the reason, they will just leave you without any notice.
She announced to us last Tuesday morning that she had to go. Her 28-year old son was sick and her husband asked her to bring her son to Davao, where they’re from.
Then she left to Valenzuela to find her son.
On Wednesday, she came back for her things.
Everything went by all so fast.
Yaya was gone.
Good for us, baby didn’t care.
And even better for us, we have a full network of agencies we can call to find a replacement.
By Tuesday afternoon, we hired a new yaya. On Wednesday morning, when yaya came to get her things, she was surprised on how fast we were able to find a replacement.
No tears, no goodbyes — just a change in yaya.
Of course, baby is still adjusting to the new yaya. Every style is different and it’s not easy for her too. Sometimes, I feel that she’s looking at me asking me who this new caregiver is. Often times, she wants me to hug and comfort her out of the blue.
But I am glad she looks for me, and not the yaya.
So in the end, all has ended well. Yaya is gone but it’s not the end of the world.
Have a good weekend everyone!