Deciding whether or not to use a housekeeping service sets off a whole chain of follow-up questions. These will either send you on a wild goose chase in personal planning, or lead to an efficient, affordable new way to manage your time and energy. Ideally, your choice will mean improved quality of life, with more time for the activities you truly value.
The Scene at Home
Your household may be headed by a working couple, one stay-at-home and one working partner, or a single working person. In each case, your time and energy are no doubt fully occupied and even spread a little thin.
Most of us juggle like crazy, balancing work, commute, children and family life against outdoor activities, life-enriching hobbies, friends, and just plain free time. Somewhere in this mix, we squeeze in household chores, trying to maintain a calm, pleasant living environment at best, or a barely livable degree of order at the very least. If your surroundings lean more to the barely livable scenario, it may be time to look at the advantages and how-to’s of hiring a housekeeper.
Should I Hire a Housekeeper
Here are some useful questions to review as you consider the options.
1. What are the benefits, besides a cleaner home?
Some couples successfully work out a fair split of household chores, but many find themselves engaged in a tug-of-war over the issue that can escalate to serious disagreements. Aside from those few, blessed individuals who enjoy cleaning, most of us are willing to give up the heavier duties to outside help. Eliminating one possible source of conflict at home is nothing short of priceless.
Less time spent on the drudgery of house cleaning means more time to move your life forward, accomplish valuable projects, and be there for your job and family demands.
2. How much will a housekeeper really improve my/our life?
Research abounds showing that a truly clean, orderly house is a sure way to improve mental and physical health. Indoor air quality is directly affected by cleanliness, potentially carrying a high load of dust mites, mold, pollen, pet dander, and even chemical emissions from our cleaning products and synthetic materials. Given the greater and greater amounts of time we spend indoors, our exposures to these toxins and irritants can produce an array of ailments in adults and children.1
Many families today are housing multiple generations under one roof. If you have elderly family members living with you, or if you are concerned about an aging parent’s waning ability to keep up their own households, a cleaning service will improve their quality of life along with yours. Simple differences, like keeping floors clean and uncluttered, can eliminate trip hazards that could result in life-changing injuries for frail elders.
3. How do I evaluate a housekeeping service?
The first step is deciding whether to hire an individual or a house cleaning services provider. There are multiple advantages in choosing a company over an individual, many having to do with the complexities of the employer-employee relationship.
Take a little time to carefully screen your choice of company, for your own protection and satisfaction. Be sure they are bonded and insured. Read online reviews for customer feedback, or ask friends for recommendations. Be sure they check each employee’s background and legal work status.
The company will take care of any tax reporting requirements, and negotiate wages. This means that you are relieved of confronting problems or dissatisfaction with an individual cleaner.
Hiring an individual places all the above duties in your court, plus, it means relying entirely on one person who may be sick or unable to keep a schedule. A company usually supplies a team of cleaners who can do a more thorough job on a wider range of duties, probably in a comparable time frame.
4. How should I assign duties, and what results can I expect?
Part of your pre-planning should entail outlining exactly where you feel you need the most help, and what you would like the service to accomplish. Think about which chores you can easily do yourself on a regular basis, and which you will gladly give up. Include those that you never seem to get to, but that can make a vast improvement in your feeling of order at home.
This step will help you decide how frequently you should schedule service, whether every two weeks, weekly, or even daily, if your household is extremely active or large.
Generate a list of chores for your regular weekly or bi-weekly service so that your expectations are clear in advance. Think about adding one or two special big or heavy-duty tasks that can be assigned on a monthly basis. Check to see if your service offers optional home organizing to reign in clutter and straighten up closets and cupboards.
Ask about a trial period of a few weeks and establish the options if you wish to switch one employee out and try another to achieve a comfortable fit for you and your family.
5. How can I maintain privacy and set boundaries?
This very important step is key to a long and fruitful relationship with your cleaning provider. When negotiating with the company—yes, the start of this relationship is a negotiation—establish the rules and limits of how you’d like your cleaning team to operate in your home, and which areas, if any, are off limits.
Follow a few common sense rules yourself, like putting away valuables and cash. Shut down your computer if you are not home. Communicate in advance if cleaners should not be allowed to use your phone, turn on the television or radio, or use your computers.
6. Can I really afford this? How much should I expect to pay?
Budgeting is the final and perhaps most important pre-planning step. If it is really a difficult squeeze to add the service, consider just a monthly deep cleaning visit. This can improve your chances of maintaining a clean, healthy environment, delivering some of the benefits outlined above. As a result, daily and weekly upkeep in between services becomes much easier.
The right cleaning service, like 2 Local Gals Housekeeping, should be a model of the service they offer. In other words, they should be well-organized, on time, show up in clean uniforms, with fresh cleaning supplies, and a smile.