When I looked at the 3 day old dishes and “clean” laundry left on the floor for the dog to sleep on, I hit my limit. “That’s it!” I said. “I’m hiring a housekeeper!”.
As a full-time work at home mom, I was spending all my non-working hours cleaning up after people. There was no downtime with my kids, no relaxing with a book I’d been meaning to read, just cleaning. I was turning into the maid. And I was done.
I was ready to hire a housekeeper.
That could be where the story ends. BUT after some serious thought, I didn’t hire a housekeeper.
Here’s why you shouldn’t either:
This is not going to be one of those things where I tell you that you should be doing more. Even though you are exhausted. Even though you are already overscheduled. Even though you are bad at saying no.
You should not be doing more. If it was as simple as that I would say, “Go. Right this very second. Go hire a housekeeper!”.
But my reasons for not hiring a housekeeper had nothing to do with wanting to take on more myself. Hiring a housekeeper simply wasn’t going to help me reach my true goals and wouldn’t simplify my life in the way I wanted it to.
Reasons not to hire a housekeeper
You are not the only one in your house.
My husband went to a conference recently and everyone he met was shocked that, first of all, we have 6 kids, and then that we didn’t have any help. They expected us to have a nanny and a housekeeper and when we didn’t have either they couldn’t imagine how we did it. his response was, “We have kids. They can help clean up too.”
I have had a housekeeper several times in the past. When I was on bedrest with my twins, it was a lifesaver. I just couldn’t physically keep up. I do use Blue Apron as my own little personal chef (if you haven’t tried it yet you can get 3 free meals here).
But, there were some downsides too, and those downsides ultimately outweighed the benefits when it came to whether not I was going to hire a house keeper again.
I still have days where I fantasize about having someone swoop in and clean my house but I know that a housekeeper isn’t the Mary Poppins solutions that I’d like it to be.
So, I don’t think mom’s should hire a housekeeper (with a few exceptions). I am NOT advocating for you to do more as a mom. As a work at home mom of 6, I know there are just so many hours in a day. You can’t, and shouldn’t do it all. But I don’t think a housekeeper is the solution.
You will clean before the housekeeper comes.
When I had a housekeeper, I spent more time cleaning my house than I ever did before. Why? I cleaned before the housekeeper came. I know, I know you shouldn’t do this. I told myself that I was paying them to clean my house so it was ridiculous for me to clean it to. That didn’t stop me though.
Deep down, I think you know that you’d clean before the housekeeper came too.
I actually tried to stop this habit. The last time I had a housekeeper I was on bedrest with my twins. Bedrest. I shouldn’t have been doing any cleaning but I hobbled around before the housekeeper came, doing my best to make it look like we weren’t total slobs. Then I told myself that was silly and I made a conscious effort not to clean before the housekeeper came.
You know what happened? The housekeeper called us and asked if we could tidy up more before she came so she could get to my kitchen counters to clean them.
Kids need chores to learn to work.
The other thing I noticed when I had a housekeeper coming was I saw an attitude in my kids that I REALLY didn’t like. One day I asked my big kids to go clean up their bathroom and one of them told me, “Why? The cleaning lady is just going to do that.”
That was a big old “NOPE” from me. I had visions of my kids heading off to college and expecting their college roommates to clean up after them, of being fired from jobs because they had no work ethic. They cleaned their own toilet from that day on.
Now, I’m still in a position where I can’t possibly clean the whole house by myself (and I don’t want to). But I have 6 kids, so when there is a big job to be done I put them to work. Even my two year old twins can help out (check out this video of them unloading the dishwasher on their own).
We clean in zones. Everyone in my family has an area of the house they are responsible for. Because we’ve broken the house up into smaller jobs, no one has a job that should take more than about 15 minutes a day. We rotate so every kid has the chance to learn how to clean a toilet or mop the floor (my goal is self sufficient adults by the time they leave the house).
When there is a big job to do (like the kitchen got really out of hand after a meal), we all jump in and do it together. My kids learn to work and the house gets clean.
There is one big exception to this. If all your kids are young, getting them to “help” takes a lot of time and effort. It is still worth teaching them but it means it takes a lot longer to scrub all the toilets. In that situation, if you work outside the home or work from home, it’s well worth it to have someone come in and help you out. As your kids get older and more capable, have them take over more tasks.
Kids need to see you working.
You know the whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing? Unfortunately, it totally doesn’t work. There are so many days I wish I could just teach my kids then go off and do something else (aka. eat your veggies while I have ice cream for dinner because I’m the adult) but it just doesn’t work that way.
It’s up to me to set an example for my children and sadly, that means they need to see me scrubbing a toilet sometimes to. As a work at home mom, my kids see me working all the time. Part of life is cleaning up after yourself though and that means I have to do my share too. It’s amazing how when I jump in and start working on the dishes, my kids will trickle in and start doing chores. When they are grown, I want them to remember me working along side them, not just nagging them to do chores.
Routines make a housekeeper redundant.
I do not have time to add anything else to my schedule, cleaning included. People who know me know that I take busy to a whole new level (I really need to work on that). Routines can go a long way towards making a housekeeper redundant though.
Fly Lady’s Sink Reflections book legitimately changed my life. I never looked at routines the same way again. I’ve tweaked the way I structure my routines over the years and added routines for my kids, but routines help me clean my house almost without thinking about it.
I throw in a load of laundry before I start making breakfast because it’s habit. My kids unload the dishwasher as breakfast cooks because it’s part of their routine.
It’s amazing how little chores throughout the day really add up and we don’t feel like we are cleaning all day.
Money you’d spend on a Housekeeper can be spent somewhere else.
I’m a firm believer that you should spend your money on things that improve your quality of life. If having a housekeeper improves your quality of life, then go for it. For me, having Blue Apron deliver meals a few times a week drastically reduces my stress level. I like to be fed. My kids have things on their wish-list that far outrank a clean house.
When I started getting frustrated and was seriously considering hiring a housekeeper again, I told my kids, “Look, I can pay the housekeeper or I can pay you”.
I told them exactly what I would be paying for a housekeeper to come and clean up their messes. They had the option of having the housekeeper come or having that money for fun activities like sports, piano lessons, and a family vacation.
They chose to clean up their own messes.
Let your kids decide where their priorities are. I’d much rather give my kids the chance to earn a few bucks for mowing the lawn or mopping the kitchen floor than hiring someone else to do it and it turns out, they would to . . . most of the time.
Need some help with the housework?
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