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I Pay Someone To Keep Me On A Cleaning Schedule

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I work full time from home and have young children, also at home. So I’ve been relying on a part-time nanny to survive. Things are stressful and I am usually working into the wee hours and up again early. But the part-time nanny is having a baby and leaving us. And I’m not hiring anyone to replace her.

Rather than hire another nanny, I decided to try something else: pay someone to clean the house every week. It’s only been a couple of weeks but already it’s paying dividends. Namely, the house gets cleaned! It’s shameful how many years it took me to realize that this was just not happening outside of the hours before company came or a party was being held.

My OCD German mother raised me to clean the house once a week. Scrubbing floors, precise dusting, sparkling bathrooms. You know the drill. But when you’re working as much as my husband and I do, it gets pushed to the side. Rather easily, it turns out. And my perfectionist training is the biggest problem. Rather than just clean a bit, I try to find time to clean perfectly. Which doesn’t happen. It’s a pretty quick spiral to a bad situation.

So we hired this wonderful woman to clean. I’m not saying she meets my mother’s standards, but it’s much easier to go over her work and the spots she misses than to do it all myself.

What I wasn’t totally prepared for, however, was the pre-clean. I knew if I were paying Emma $80 to clean the house, I wanted to make sure she could clean. That meant clearing off every surface and putting away every toy, organizing the book shelves, throwing out anything that can be thrown out, and generally organizing the crap out of my house.

The first time I did it, on the night before Emma came, I told my husband that this was the best $80 we’d ever spent. I had deadlines raining down on me and any other week, there’s no way I would have taken a few hours out of my night to clean up. But because we had money riding on it, I ran around tossing and organizing like you wouldn’t believe.

The next week it was the same drill. All that laundry got put away perfectly. The bathroom got pre-organized. It was the same drill except that it was much, much easier. And that’s how it’s been ever since.

It’s ridiculous how much I pay for this service, although Emma does a great job and it’s certainly much cheaper than childcare. But it’s also nice to have a couple of days of the house smelling fantastic and the appliances sparkly clean.

But more than anything, I think the best value is that the weekly clean keeps us from cluttering up our house too much. With two writers and two children under five years old, that’s no small task. And worth every penny.

Image via Thinkstock.