In a few weeks, the holidays will begin. Last year, you were the one holding the annual turkey feast; how many days did you take off to clean your house? Are you afraid to have friends come to your home because it’s too much of a mess? If you work full time and just don’t have time, maybe it’s time to consider hiring some household help.
You don’t need help, right? Do you hear your mom’s voice in your head telling you how she juggled taking care of a home and working, so you should be able to do it. But did she really? More than likely not. And besides, the bottom line is it’s not getting done and you can’t do it all; no guilt in the world will change that. So, now what are you going to do?
We have become a nation of packrats. We’re so busy, pulled in so many different directions, it’s next to impossible for us to take care of it ourselves. And one of the top reasons people don’t hire domestic help, someone to at least clean the bathrooms, is that they don’t have time to clean up before the cleaning lady comes. Is that why you’re not thinking about it, because you have too much stuff and clutter?
Hannah and Terry were a typical suburban family. Hannah worked as a manager at a local company, working long hours just to keep up. Terry was a school teacher, whose schedule allowed him to be home when their two children came home. Most would describe them as outgoing, loving and fun. But no one had seen the inside of their house for years. Why? Their house was a mess.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. It’s just that with each child, Hannah lost more and more control over what was going on in the home. Terry grew up believing housework was “women’s work,” so he did little o pitch in. As the kids grew, the clutter got worse. Hannah kept trying to set schedules to clean, but every attempt to get organized got sidetracked. The result was that everyone in the house was stressed, tired and could never find anything.
Do you see yourself in Hannah and Terry? Are you jealous when you see commercials showing a sparkling clean bathroom? Having a hard time getting your thoughts together when your dining room table is piled with paper and your pile of laundry is taller than you are?
Then it’s time to get moving.
First, figure out whether or not you can afford to have some household help. David Bach, author of the book “Smart Couples Finish Rich,” has a great formula for determining whether or not you can afford someone to clean your home – take your salary, break it out to an hourly rate. If you can find a cleaning person for less than your hourly pay, it’s worth it. So how much is your time worth? If you spend an entire weekend cleaning, really cleaning your home, washing the floors, getting the mold out of the shower, wiping down the woodwork and dusting the blinds, how much money is it? Now you have a base figure to compare to the charge of a cleaning service or individual.
Next, it’s time to figure out who. Do you want a cleaning service or a cleaning person? There are benefits to both. If you go with a reputable cleaning service, they should be bonded and insured. They offer a more flexible schedule and would be responsible if something turns up missing or broken. If your regular person quits, there’s always someone else coming in their place, so there’s rarely a missed scheduled visit. They bring their own supplies, including vacuums and rags, so you don’t have to worry about yours being broken or restocking. And they regularly clean in teams so they get the job done faster. The biggest disadvantage of hiring a service is that they can be more expensive. If you aren’t careful in the screening process, you can find yourself out of luck if they really don’t have insurance to cover your missing watch or broken collectible.
Hiring an individual to clean your home has its advantages and disadvantages, as well. The advantages include knowing exactly who is in your home at all times and if something is broken or goes missing, there’s only one person you need to speak with. Depending on your agreement, an individual can bring all their own supplies and take their time, making sure everything is done just as you want it. The biggest disadvantage is that most individuals don’t have insurance coverage; you’ll have to rely on your homeowner’s insurance if there is damage.
Regardless whether you hire an individual or a service to clean your home, there are some things you need to keep in mind:
- Before you start looking, make a list of what you want done. Do you just want someone to just dust, vacuum and clean the bathrooms or do you need the whole-house treatment, including changing linens, doing laundry and wiping down woodwork? Do you want someone once a week or every other week? Do you want them to use your cleaning supplies or bring their own? What day of the week do you prefer to have your house cleaned? You might get a discount if you pick a mid-week day.
- Be realistic. If you’re not getting your house as clean as you want now, it’s not likely to change anytime soon unless you do something drastic; are you willing to cut back hours or change your habits? Then it’s time to hire someone.
- Accept the cost, if it’s below your hourly rate. It’s always going to cost more for the first visit while the house cleaner gets things into manageable shape. Realize this is one area of your life you don’t want to go for the cheapest price. If it takes you all weekend to clean your home with all the distractions, it’s going to take at least 4 hours for an experienced house cleaner to clean it each week; how much are your 4 hours worth? If the house cleaner is charging you less, it’s worth it.
- Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for referrals. Don’t be shy. They either know of someone who does house cleaning or use someone really good. The best references are from someone who has used the person or knows them personally.
- Check references. Even if you find someone recommended by friends or family, get some additional references and make sure to call them. Ask how the cleaning person or service dealt with you when things went wrong.
- Keep communications open. Actually talk to your house cleaner at least once before each visit. Don’t rely on notes to communicate. If you’re unhappy about the way something was or wasn’t taken care of, talk about it! Don’t be afraid of a confrontation; this person is a professional, being paid – by you – for services. You deserve to get what you pay for.
- Don’t be afraid to change who you use. Hiring a house cleaner is the same as any relationship; you may not find the right one the first time out, but don’t let that stop you. Remember – your house is now cleaner than it would have been if you relied on you to get it done.
Hannah and Terry sat down and figured out how much it would cost if they spent their weekends cleaning the house, even with the kids pitching in. They calculated they could hire a really good service once a week and their house is ready for the holidays. And, everyone is definitely less stressed.
For additional tips and hints on hiring a house cleaner, check out BellaOnline.