Tomorrow morning my cleaners are coming to the condo. This has made me think about the many comments and questions that I have had over the years when it comes to hiring help for the home. Some people laugh and say “My wife has to clean the house before the cleaner comes”. Others state “I need help but my house is such a mess that I don’t think I can afford this”.
Well, since I was a little girl my family has always had someone come into our home to help with cleaning projects. This wasn’t very expensive and usually involved eight hours or less a month. My mom was a professional and always had someone come in on Friday afternoons for two hours. Sometimes, if she wanted help with the deepfreeze or other special projects she would increase this by a couple more hours.
Now that I am in Calgary, I have a professional cleaning service come to my condo once a month. They schedule 4.5 hours but only charge for the exact number of hours used. Usually there is time for “extra” tasks and the cleaners always ask what they can do after the basics are completed if there is time left (there usually is). One time they washed the deck. In the fall, they vacuumed the patio cushions and put them away before snow arrived. Another time they cleaned the cupboard under the kitchen sink.
Here are some hints that you might employ when considering hiring domestic help:
- Know exactly what you need – Cleaners are hired to clean. They usually don’t downsize or declutter for you. They clean. It is therefore important that you prioritize your needs and make it easy for them to do the job. I like the idea that there is a set number of hours that define boundaries for us but also have communicated a clear list of my priorities. I hire cleaners to do floors, bathrooms, and dusting – things I don’t want to do myself. Anything beyond that is discussed after those basics are done.
- Take responsibility – Unfortunately, I know people who argue for years about who, what, when and how domestic tasks will get done. You can’t change other people and if you have been in conflict over this for a period of time, then it is time to make another plan. (Hiring a cleaner for a few hours a week is way less expensive than a divorce!)
- Choose a time that works best for you – On Mondays, I don’t see clients but can still work in my home office while the cleaners are there. This gives me time to work on my business paperwork and personal financial tasks. If they need to talk with me, I am available. Mondays are also good for me because that gives me the weekend before to prepare (not clean) for them.
- Have necessary supplies – My cleaners bring all of the cleaning products but I have them use my vacuum and ensure that they know where to find the garbage bags to replace the ones they remove. I also provide special products for the stovetop and oven.
- De-clutter – It is a good idea to take out the recycling and do a quick walk-through during which you put away anything that would slow down the cleaning. Remember, you are paying by the hour!
- Work smart, not hard – There are lots of things that I can do ahead of time to ensure a lovely environment after the cleaners leave. I wash the sheets and re-make the bed, do the laundry (washed, dried and put away) and all the dishes, This is also a good time for me to water plants and do any needed work on the indoor garden that might result in spills or mess. These are all things that are my responsibility and doing them before the cleaners arrive makes good sense.
- Think about the “extras” – Usually I quickly go through the fridge and cook up as much as possible. A stir fry or casserole will incorporate a lot of leftovers as well as vegetables, free up containers to be washed and provide pre-cooked meals for a couples of days. This also gets rid of any packaging and garbage which will be removed by the cleaners.. Sometimes I will ask the cleaners to do a quick clean of the fridge with their extra time. On occasion I will also set the clean cycle on the oven so that they can do the final wiping out process.
- Finally, think about the fact that the more “stuff” you have, the more effort it will take to have a clean environment. I remember when my aunt was moving from a five-bedroom house into a condo. This seemed so overwhelming! She made a commitment that every time she left the house, she would grab one thing from the house that she could garbage, recycle or give away. Thirty days-thirty things gone
This article was written with the hope that it will stimulate you to think about what you need and how you might be able to get those needs met with the least amount of time and money. Make a plan and begin today. I am sure you will be glad you did!