Lawdie, lawdie, Miss Maudie — it’s been a long couple weeks since I had a moment to sit down and write to y’all.
After a couple solid weeks of working my tail off at my day job, I finally had a weekend free. So, I took the opportunity to do some spring cleaning — more on that later.
Being short on time and relatively long on cash these days, I am blessed up one side and down the other to have professional help every now and then on the deep-cleaning side of things. I keep up with laundry and dishes and everyday messes and spills and dust, and every couple weeks, I have a sweet lady named Jess who comes in to do the mopping and shower-scrubbing — the kinds of things I would do myself if I didn’t have to work on the weekends or if I was in different economic circumstances or if I didn’t already have my hands tied up with a hundred other housewifely tasks on top of a day job.
This is the first time in my life that I’ve been able to afford something like this, and it’s a luxury I certainly don’t take for granted. I sometimes feel a bit guilty about it; it’s such a first-world sort of amenity. “So sorry, dolling, we’ll have to move our yacht polo match to Sunday because the maid is coming on Saturday.” But for me, for now, it’s justifiable. It frees up my time without costing too much money, and it gives me a clean-enough-to-eat-off-the-floor house twice a month.
Here’s what I’ve picked up about hiring help for household chores and other tasks:
- Carefully assess your need for help. If you’re single and you’re moving, it’s almost always worth your time and money to hire movers with their own truck and other moving equipment. If you work hard during the day and make a fair amount of money, it might be worth the price for a housecleaner to come in every now and then. If you are entertaining at home and need extra hands for pre-event cleaning or cooking or food service, make a judgement call based on how much your time is worth and how well a professional could do the job. In some cases, the peace of mind alone makes it worthwhile.
- If you’re staring down a job you can’t do, whether you lack the skills or the equipment or the knowledge, always call a professional. I’m looking at you, little miss amateur electrician. It ain’t worth the accidental shock therapy.
- Especially if you’re considering hiring more than one type of helper, use Angie’s List to find your help. It costs a nominal membership fee, but it will give you honest reviews and ratings for every kind of help in your area, from cleaners to movers to handy-types to plumbers and so on. There are ratings for overall service and separate ratings for price; selecting a vendor with a top-rated price ensures you’ll be getting a fair deal.
- Pay in cash, and pay promptly. Unless you’re working with a contractor who prefers to send an invoice and get a check later, most of your help will be more than happy to accept cash on the spot.
- Treat your helpers with respect. This might go without saying, but follow the Golden Rule and be as kind and gracious to your hired folks as you would be if you were in their shoes. Don’t ask them to do things that are not in the job description — and make sure you understand that job description very well. Also, especially with housecleaners, remember that their job is to clean up, not to clean up after you. It’s disrespectful to ask a professional cleaner to come into a pigsty and set it to rights; do the tidying-up yourself beforehand.
- Don’t be shy about asking for things. If you want something done a special way, let your helpers know ahead of time, if possible. And be aware that some special requests may not be included in a previously quoted price; ask to be sure.
- Say thank you often, and say it with a tip when it’s appropriate. Did your movers have to climb three unexpected flights of stairs? Did your housecleaner come in to mop up after a particularly rowdy party? Is it the holiday season, ending a year of great help from the professionals you’ve hired? Tip them generously! While giving a not-too-personal gift is a sweet touch, nothing says you appreciate their hard work quite like a monetary tip. If that seems too cold, just put an envelope with cash inside a bread basket full of muffins.