Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Housekeeping

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I will begin by admitting that I grew up in one of those homes that had rooms that remind some people of a museum. They were immaculately clean, everything was perfectly displayed, the furniture all matched and was never used and woe be to the child whose footprints were detected on the area rug. Some of my classmates' mothers even kept plastic on the couches to ensure that they were suitably preserved for all eternity.

Needless to say, I can be a bit of a clean freak in my own home. There are no display rooms, but I do get a certain sense of peace when things are clean and tidy. The problem is that many of us don't have the time anymore between jobs, family, activities and traveling to keep up with housework, which we all assume is a DIY project.

So today, I want to put a question out there to my readers. It goes something like this:

If you are busy with anything you love more than sweeping, mopping and doing toilets and you can find room in your budget to hire help...
WHY are you wasting precious time cleaning your own house???

When I was 4 months pregnant and too ill to do much of anything, I had to make the painful admission that I was unable to help with the cleaning and Hubby was too busy working and writing a book to keep things up to my standards. Hubby stepped in and hired a lady to come twice a month to take care of dusting, sweeping, mopping, the kitchen and the bathroom. It was a godsend. Even before my pregnancy, we would spend every precious Saturday cleaning the apartment when we could have been enjoying some leisure time together instead.

The options here are to hire a cleaning company or an independent individual.

The advantage of bringing in a company is that they should have insurance and do background checks on their employees. From my experience, they tend to be more expensive and one company I sought a quote from requires that you have them in for one or more comprehensive deep cleaning sessions (for a fairly high charge) and then they come regularly after that and maintain your home.

We decided to go with an independent woman who had been cleaning the home of one of our friends for a while. We had the reference from that friend and references she provided from a few of her other clients and we have been happy with her work. We discussed what I wanted taken care of each time and she provided a flat rate based on that combination of tasks with the size of our home in mind. She enjoys it as a retirement job where she gets to be her own boss and work at her own pace.

Knowing that every second Thursday of the month is cleaning day helps me to relax a bit more during the week because I know when the mess will end and I don't have to stress about doing it all myself.

DIY Rating: 2 for picking up that mop and bucket yourself!

Shop around, you might be surprised 
to find that you can leave this one to the pros!


  1. I always have better things to do than clean, but I find the cheapness factor that runs in my family always wins out in the cleaning department. Since I am currently living on the basics, I find it much easier to keep things clean. When you only have four plates, you basically have to do the dishes right away. I'm going to try to continue living small for the next couple of years just to save myself time.

  2. I find that the most time-consuming chores are washing dishes and cooking. Like Carolyn, I wash dishes every day because I need to re-use them frequently, so that is not something that could be off-loaded onto bi-weekly hired help. Ditto for cooking. As for the other household cleaning chores, we save both time and money by simply not doing them!

    What? Not a good solution?

  3. Carolyn, Living small is one answer and good on you for taking that tactic. I like the saying, "Less Stuff, More Life." A bit harder to do once kids are on the scene, though.

    CBurrell, I know you have a dishwasher, so I'm confused about the dishes! One option is to hire someone to come for 1-2 hours a few times a week and have that person clean up your kitchen, cook you a meal with enough leftovers for a couple of nights and do one light housekeeping chore each time. A lot of small religious houses have this set-up.

    Something else you might look into further is a company called "Supperworks" ( For about $300, they will make up and deliver enough dinners to your house for two people for a month (excluding weekends). It sounds expensive, but I track my grocery bills and this is honestly well-priced in comparison to doing it yourself.

    i disapprove of the idea that you would not maintain at least your kitchen and bathrooms on a weekly basis!

  4. Hmm. That sounds interesting. We spend well over $300/month on food, so it could be feasible. According to their website, however, their operation in our city is specific to certain neighbourhoods, and ours is not among them. Too bad.

    How would one go about finding somebody to drop in for an hour or two, as you suggest? I had a look on Kijiji, and there are lots of house cleaners, but I don't see anybody offering to cook something too.


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