Domestic blues soon to disappear

One of my secondary motivations to get my financial house in order in 2010 was to be able to hire a house cleaning service. In my old life, when I lived in a house that cost under $200,000 and I had a car and I lived in the ‘burbs, I had this little perk.

Her name was Diana, she’s still a friend, despite having moved and stopped being her client many years ago.  Diana spoiled me for just about anybody else, so I was hesitant to start a hunt for somebody new again. I had also convinced myself I couldn’t afford it here in Toronto.

Last year, however, I met Karolina. Karolina runs her own cleaning company. She’s serious about what clean means and her standards are similar to mine. While Karolina doesn’t (usually) do the cleaning herself, she brings in her staff and explains the drill on their first few visits. Then she comes back when they think they’re done, and she does the walk through with them and reviews their work.  I’ve always loved this about Karolina, because it takes the pressure off me for doing that job and feeling like a jerk.

In 2010, Karolina brought me this lovely woman named Victoria. It took Victoria a couple of visits to really get a feel for the place, but she mastered it. I’m a bit of a tricky client too, because I’m usually home, although in my office, and I prefer not to be disturbed too much. Victoria found the perfect way to do her job, while allowing me to do my job.

In September 2010, Victoria got what she called “a real job”. I was very happy for her and her family. They are recent immigrants, and her and her husband landed a property management job at an apartment building. It came with better pay, and it also came with a place to live for her and her three boys. I was outrageously happy for her. Of course, that meant I had to say goodbye to Victoria.

Since September, Karolina has not been able to recruit new staff that are up to her standards. I wasn’t too concerned about the delay, because I was putting that money toward other things (hello? line of credit?)

Over the last 6-8 weeks however, I’ve really started to ache for some serious help in this department. My full-time work life is really high octane, my part-time work life is also busy when I’m there. The youngest has been in a mild Lupus-flare since Christmas, the eldest is working pretty flat out at her full-time gig. All this means that I’ve been really falling behind on a bunch of things.

My grocery budget in December was under spent because I couldn’t actually leave the house to get groceries on a few occassions.

Stuff around the house is like litter on the street. As soon as somebody fails to put one thing away, a dish, a coat or a comb, it gives permission for the next person to leave whatever they have in their hand around. Don’t think for a minute this is all about the kids – I have a role in this too! I also leave my dishes on the counter, and coffee cup on my desk and clothes on the floor, etc.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking “sheesh, she’s whining about having debt and she wants a house cleaning service?” Well, yes, I guess that’s the broad strokes. Oh, and I hope I’m not whining – I hate whining.

Although my kids aren’t toddlers at 22 and 17, I’m still their Mom and at various times, the Mom role trumps everything else. If somebody isn’t well, I’m Mom and nurse.

Still, the cats need to be fed, the cat litter gets scooped, the garbage/recycling/compost needs to go outside daily, the driveway and walkway needs shovelling/salting of late, groceries need to be bought, fetched with the rolly cart through the snow and put away, the bills get open/paid, meals are cooked, dishes are washed, laundry and ironing is done, medical appointments/tests are made, doctor’s notes are written, prescriptions are filled and sent away for reimbursement (in some cases)… you get the idea. I haven’t even mentioned the housework yet.

Imagine my thrill when Karolina called to say she has a couple of new staff, and she wants to bring one in next Friday! She’s also given me the assurance that if this one doesn’t work out, there’s a plan B with another staffer. I’m elated.

The option that works best for me is every alternate Friday. Karolina knows if I can’t have Friday morning, I don’t want any time at all.  This is based on years of knowing myself. If the house looks undone on Friday – I’ll clean it myself. There’s no point in sending somebody in here on a Monday, it’ll be done. I can’t help myself. I pay $85 every alternate week.

To me, this averages out to $42.50 weekly, which means my weekend days have a value of $21.25. Yes, I’ll pay $21.25 to have my Saturdays and Sundays to do whatever else I choose to do, other than scrub the floors, do the dusting, vaccuuming, bathroom cleaning, etc.  After all, there’s still the cats, the kids, the driveway and the recycling to deal with.

The house rules about this have always been clear for the kids. The things in their room must be picked up, because the person who comes is a cleaner, not a tidyer. We don’t expect a house cleaner to know where the socks and shoes go. I always give the cleaner full permission to not clean a space if it isn’t tidy, because I don’t want to pay anybody to put my own socks away.

This has been a good strategy for all of us. It means that at least every alternate Thursday, things get picked up. Sure, I do a light-duty tidy in the alternate week, but I much prefer that than the heavy duty deal every weekend.

I can barely wait!


8 responses to this post.

  1. Yay! A house cleaner has been the best thing ever! I’ve also noticed that I’m actually a much better cleaner than mine are which kind of reminds me that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and one reason why I don’t get to things more often is because they actually do take me more time than they would someone else.
    I also have a little sheet of tasks for the month up on the fridge and check things off when I do them. It reminds me that I don’t have to do everything but if I have a spare few minutes, I can do SOMEthing. It also helps me to not forget the litterbox (which is kind of out of sight, out of mind) – don’t even want to think about how often your litterbox has to be cleaned… 🙂


    • I love the idea of your month task list! I may borrow it! Oh, the litterbox gets cleaned out every morning. Since my office is in the next room, there are times, mid-afternoon, when a secondary scooping is necessary for my sanity too 🙂


  2. One of the things on my ‘want’ list when the finances are better is a housecleaner. I don’t mind tidying, and doing all the other things that I do in a day. But when it’s time to scrub the toilet, bathtub, wash walls and windows, and mop floors, I’m usually too exhausted to do it myself, so they don’t get cleaned as often as I would like. With the ‘work’ I could be doing at the same time, it will be well worth it to pay someone else $25 or so per week to do it for me.


    • Yep, it’s totally worth it. I don’t ask the house cleaner to wash walls and that kind of stuff, BUT, if I’m not doing the routine stuff, I have more time to wash a wall if it needs it, clean the stove, clean the fridge, scrub out a cupboard, etc. Hope you get your ‘want’ soon!


  3. As I look around my house, all messy and disorganized after a weekend with the kids home, I long for some domestic help too. I’m happy to hear that your plans to get some help back in are finally coming together.


  4. Hope your new help works out for you!! 🙂 It can get very overwhelming at times!


    • I hope so too, thanks! Moralia, I haven’t forgotten your request to explain how I track my finances. I’m finding it difficult to capture a screen shot of my Excel spreadsheet to show, but I’ll keep plugging away!


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