Should I hire a housekeeper? It’s a question my husband and I have been grappling with for a few months now.
As someone who writes primarily about saving money and frugal living, you’d think the answer would be an easy “no.”
But it’s not that simple.
Yes, I am always looking for ways to save money. I’m also a strong believer that every bit counts. Saving a few dollars on groceries or an electric bill adds up week after week, month after month, year after year.
But I also advocate for what I like to call balanced frugality.
Balanced frugality is when you try to save money, but don’t drive yourself crazy doing it. Take your morning cup of coffee. Generally I advocate making coffee at home to save money. But after a crazy night with the kids, when I’m tired and cranky, sometimes I need the extra comfort of a cup of coffee from my favorite coffee stop.
And you know what? That’s okay. If splurging a bit here or there helps my mental health, I consider that worth the money.
Time vs. Money
When you think about it, a lot of decisions come down to time or money.
Do you want to save money by doing things yourself, but taking time out of your day; or do you want to save time by spending a little money to get someone to do a task for you?
Despite my frugal nature, my husband and I decided to hire a lawn service to cut our lawn. We spend $100 or so a month but in our book, it’s completely worth it.
Between our jobs and our commutes, we feel pressed enough for time with our kids. We didn’t want to have another thing taking us away from spending time with them.
For us, hiring a lawn service is worth it. It’s one less thing for us to do, one less stressor, and more time with our kids.
Should You Hire a Housekeeper?
So back to the question at hand.
Again it comes down to time versus money.
Do you want to spend the time cleaning your house, or do you want to pay someone to do it for you?
Maybe it’s not a question of wants.
Can you afford it?
Now, if you don’t have the money to pay for a housekeeper, than this whole argument is pretty much a nonstarter.
If you’re struggling to pay your bills, or if you’re on a big push to pay down your debt, then it’s probably not in your best interest to hire a housekeeper.
Keep reading below for strategies to tackle the mess!
Do you have the time to clean your house?
Here’s where it gets tricky. Sure, you can probably scrape up an hour or two to clean your house every week. But what are you giving up in that hour or two?
Time with your kids? Time with your spouse? Time with yourself?
I’m not saying any of this to make you feel guilty. As moms, we have this notion that we can and need to do it all by ourselves. Work, be loving Pinterest mothers, and be June Cleaver.
We need to get rid of this ridiculous idea. We cannot do it all, nor should we.
If hiring a housekeeper will help you to have time to play with your kids, watch a movie with your partner, or maybe go out for an hour and get a pedicure, do it. Kick the mom guilt and hire a housekeeper.
I don’t know why but sometimes I need someone to tell me to take a break, or ask for help. If you’re like this to, listen to me:
You can take a break. I give you permission to hire a housekeeper. No one will think less of you for getting some help. Do what you need to do to make your life the best that it can be.
Establish a Cleaning Routine
Not ready to hire a housekeeper? There are other things you can try to reduce your stress and keep your house tidy. One way is to establish a cleaning routine. There are several ways you can do this.
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My family lives and dies by our calendar. Every appointment, birthday party, and school function goes in the calendar. Why not chores?
Assign each day a chore and put it in your calendar. You can schedule it for first thing in the morning or after the kids go to bed. Whatever works for you. Here’s what it might look like:
- Sunday: Sweep and mop floors
- Monday: Dust
- Tuesday: Vacuum
- Wednesday: Bathrooms
- Thursday: Kitchen
- Friday: Day off!
- Saturday: Day off!
One of the main advantages of scheduling cleaning is that it takes the guesswork out of what needs to be done.
From time to time my husband and I get into spats about cleaning. I get annoyed that the bulk of housecleaning falls on my shoulders. When I confront him about it he claims that he doesn’t know what needs to be done.
Scheduling chores in a shared calendar gets everyone on the same routine, so everyone knows what needs to be done.
While one parent is bathing the kids, the other can be doing the daily chore. If someone is stuck trying to get a reluctant child to go to bed, the other one can be cleaning up.
In this way, the workload gets shared more evenly. Because let’s face it, who wants to fight about cleaning?
Blitz cleaning on weekend
I feel like I run a race every day from the time I get home to the time I get the kids to bed.
By the time they’re settled down, I’m exhausted. Cleaning is the last thing I want to do.
I’ve also experimented with doing a cleaning blitz on the weekend, instead of trying to clean every night.
While my husband is playing with the kids or while they’re watching a movie, I’ll dash through the house, cleaning bathrooms and sweeping floors.
It’s effective, but not entirely equitable.
Sure the house gets cleaned, but I start to resent all of the cleaning falling to me. As a mom raising two young boys, I also am very aware of the image I’m portraying. Having mom clean the house while everyone plays or watches TV isn’t the image message I want to send to my sons.
Just the same, it does feel good to get the whole house clean really quickly. Plus, having some quiet time to myself (even if it’s while I’m cleaning) is a nice respite every now and then!
Daily cleaning routine plus weekly big chore
You can also try a hybrid of the two methods: do a daily wipe up or quick clean every day, and then tackle a larger project on the weekend.
Here are some ideas for the larger cleaning projects you could do on the weekends:
- Clean your grout
- Wash windows
- Wipe down baseboards
- Clean the stove/oven
- De-grease kitchen cabinets
- Clean the light fixtures
This is a big enough chore it gets its own section!
I see a lot of blogs saying you should do a load of laundry every day. I get it – doing a load each day would really help tackle the never-ending pile.
But there’s a problem.
I get home between 5:30 and 5:45, rush to get dinner on the table, and then play with the kids, give them baths, and try to get them in bed by 8:00 p.m. If I’m lucky, I’m done by 8:30 p.m. By that time, I just don’t have the energy to start a load of laundry.
One thing that does help is when I use the delay set feature on my washing machine. I can get the laundry ready in the morning, or even the night before, and schedule it so it starts an hour before I get home. When I do return, I just have to throw it in the dryer. The clothes get clean and the laundry pile doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming.
I’m still working on folding the laundry though!
Need help finding a routine that works for you? Check out my Pinterest board on cleaning schedules!
Barring any physical or developmental concerns, everyone above the age of two who lives in the house should be helping to clean the house. Period. Full stop.
Think your kids are too young to help? Think again.
There are plenty of chores even young children can do. And what’s more, little kids like to help. They get immense pride in being able to contribute to the family. Why not tap into that eagerness and enlist their help?
Setting your expectations
Now, it’s important to set your expectations properly. Your kids are not going to be domestic prodigies. If you ask them to wipe down the counter, they’ll probably miss half of it. Folding clothes will be less than perfect, and consider yourself lucky if you get half the floor swept.
As parents, our job is to teach and coach. Resist the temptation to clean everything yourself and show your kids how to clean. Put your hand over theirs when they wipe up to show them how to get the entire counter. Stand by them as they mop to show them how to clean the entire floor.
You might need a whole bucket of patience, but if you put the time in when they’re young, you’ll benefit for years to come.
What’s more, you will be preparing your kids for life. After all, you don’t want to be the parents of kids who go off to college not knowing how to do their own laundry or being the slobby roommate!
Not sure what your kids are capable of? Here are some easy starter chores to get your kids involved in helping the family clean house!
- Put away toys
- Wipe down baseboards
- Put dirty clothes in hamper
- Set and clear the table (plastic dishes, napkins, and silverware; leave the glass dishes to older kids!)
- Clean toilet bowl (you should apply the cleaners and let your kids use the toilet brush)
- Help fold towels and match socks
- Wipe down counters
- Empty bags of groceries
Again, it’s not going to be perfect, and yes, you may need to follow them with your own cleaning rag, but getting them started early with helping you out around the house is worth the time spent.
And maybe it’s just enough help so you don’t have to hire a housekeeper.
Kill the Clutter
I don’t think it’s possible to completely declutter with kids. Between the birthday party favors, the dentist visit toys, and all the other crap that seem to follow them around, it’s a daunting task. But you can make a grand effort.
Keep a few well placed baskets or bins to wrangle the clutter. Maybe at the base of the stairs or in the family room. Whenever you find something that doesn’t belong, drop it in the basket. When the basket is full, walk through the house with your bins and put everything back where it belongs.
Never leave a room empty-handed
Every time you walk to another room you have an opportunity: an opportunity to clean up and declutter. I’ve been training myself to always look for something that doesn’t belong before I leave a room.
It could be the coffee mug in the bathroom from when I was getting ready for work (probably still with cold coffee in it!). Maybe it’s the socks in the family room that my son can never keep on his feet. Or the toys that always seem to creep into my room.
Rather than leave the clutter until it becomes unbearable, take one item at a time and put it away.
Strive for five
Another option for keeping the clutter at bay is to get in the habit of picking up five things each day.
This works particularly well on the days when all I want to do is sit on the couch and drink a glass of wine and eat a bag of chips after putting the kids to bed!
Basically before you allow yourself to relax for the evening find five things to put away.
Maybe it’s a few toys, or the mail that came in for the day, or some dishes that are lying around. You don’t have to go crazy, but you can still feel like you got something accomplished for the day.
What’s more, this should be a family activity. Before the kids go to bed, have them clean up their socks, shoes, and toys. Your partner should be helping out too! Make it a family habit, or even turn it into a game!
Of course, the easiest way to conquer clutter is to get rid of it! Check out my post on how just ten minutes a day can make a huge dent in your clutter problem!
Keep It Simple
Before kids, I had a million cleaners, each with it’s own purpose: kitchen cleaners, shower spray, grout cleaner, cleaning wipes, window cleaner…the list went on.
Not only does that get expensive, it’s way too complicated!
I would go to clean and spend more time running around gathering cleaners than actually doing the cleaning.
Who has time for that?!?
I’ve vastly pared down my cleaning arsenal now. I look for multipurpose cleaning products that I can use on all of my surfaces.
I also look for products that will keep things cleaner in between cleaning days, like toilet bowl tablets and a daily shower spray.
I’m also doing away with the notion that I need a commercial cleaner for all of my cleaning.
Rather than using a harsh surface cleaner for my stove top, I use baking soda. It gently gets rid of even the toughest grease. It also works great on my steel kitchen sink, grout, and the tub!
Microwaving a bowl of water with lemon slices de-greases and deodorizes my microwave.
Vinegar makes for a great window cleaner and shower spray. If the scent of vinegar is too strong, add a few drops of lemon or orange essential oils.
I’ve really only scratched the surface on natural cleaning solutions. I have a dream to one day replace all of my commercial cleaners with homemade products. Not only is it cheaper, it’s safer and better for the environment.
If you’re interested in natural cleaners, check out my Pinterest board on homemade and DIY cleaners.
To Hire a Housekeeper or Not?
Ultimately, you’re the only person that can answer this question.
You know your budget, how much time you have, and whether a housekeeper will make your life easier.
If you have guilt about hiring a housekeeper, don’t. Allow yourself to get help so you can reduce your stress and spend your time doing things that bring you joy.
Keep in mind too that you don’t need to hire a housekeeper every week. Maybe once a month is enough, or just when you’re really strapped for time and stressed out. During the other weeks, use the cleaning strategies I discussed above and get everyone in the house involved.
And don’t stress if your house isn’t 1950’s housewife clean. You’ve got a lot on your plate.
Kids aren’t going to remember or care if the sink always has dirty dishes in it, or if there is some clutter laying about. They want to spend time with you, and I bet you want to be the fun parent that spends time with them rather than stressing about cleaning.
You also deserve time for yourself. Working, cooking, taking care of the kids…you do a ton already. So go ahead and hire a housekeeper so you can read a book, take a nap, or do whatever makes you happy.
Whatever you decide, cut yourself some slack. You’re doing just fine.