Hiring Help?


[ UPDATE: Voting is now closed. ]

Question: If you could hire someone to help you for the day, would you hire a driver, a house cleaner, a cook, or a babysitter? Click your pick above — I’d love to know!

A few weeks ago I posted a house tour that generated quite a few comments about hired help. Mostly, they implied that since the house was so orderly and beautiful, there must be a ton of hired help — and the tone of the comments sometimes hinted that hired help was a negative thing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever completely understood the strong reactions this topic can inspire. But I’d like to understand better.

In my day dreams, our household is run by Alice from The Brady Bunch. She lives at the house in her own little apartment, so she’s pretty much always available. And she knows the house so well that she doesn’t need instructions on where the books go, or which clothes belong in which bedroom, or when the fire alarm batteries need to be changed. She makes it her job to know. She’s not a nanny, but she can watch the kids in a pinch. And she can run errands as well. It’s a lovely day dream.

Personally, I’m a fan of getting help! I’ve hired help whenever we’ve needed it and had the budget for it. When we didn’t have the budget for it, I would make babysitting trades and even spring cleaning trades with friends and neighbors. Sometimes the help means a babysitter — currently, little June goes to a sitter twice a week. Sometimes the help means a full-on assistant — in Colorado, Melanie of You Are My Fave came to my house every morning to help run my business, which included a range of tasks from assisting with emails, to running errands, to helping make Halloween costumes. (She was amazing, by the way!) Sometimes the help means a house cleaner — during our last year in New York, a lovely woman came twice a month to give the house a good scrubbing.

But I have friends who are really uncomfortable getting help. Some think it’s a waste of money. Some feel guilty about getting help. Some saw their mothers do it alone, and want to model the same thing for their own kids. Some feel the house and the children are their responsibility — and they feel that getting help is shirking that responsibility.

And obviously, the whole conversation comes from a place of cultural tradition (and sometimes privilege too). In fact, like you, I’ve had friends move all over the world, and in certain countries, it’s expected that they will hire help. It would be rude to the local community if they didn’t.

What’s your take? Have you ever hired help? Do you have help now? Do you have a strong opinion on the subject either way?

154 thoughts on “Hiring Help?”

  1. When we first moved to Switzerland and were both working, we had a cleaner once a week. I thought I’d love it and it had been something I wanted for my entire adult life – and then we stopped having her after a couple months. It turns out I didn’t like the way it felt to have someone else clean. I didn’t like the way she cleaned and I felt disconnected from my home. So it just didn’t work for me.
    Now that I’m not working, we simply don’t have the money for it. I get frustrated wondering how my friends manage to keep their houses sparkling and then I remember they mostly have hired help in the form of cleaners or babysitters, or both!
    My focus since becoming a mom has been to let go of wanting things perfect. It’s okay if the house gets cluttered and messy. It’s okay! Things don’t have to be perfect. It’s been very liberating and a good lesson. Besides, I manage to get my house clean and perfect for photos or having company, so chances are the perfect homes we see online are messy when the camera’s not there, too. ;) xo

  2. I don’t have any help, but if I could afford it, I do not see a negative side to regaining a little sanity.

    When my kids were smaller (at the time they were boys aged 4 and 3 and baby girl about 11 months) I was at a weekly parenting meeting and was admittedly whining a bit about how much my husband was traveling. One of the other Mom’s in all sincerity asked me, “oh, Honey! Don’t you have any help?” Meaning – paid help. Before that moment it had not occurred to me that people actually had “help” if they were a stay at home parent. I laughed and said no, but have thought about that conversation many times in the last 4 years. I often think I’d be a better parent if I did have a little help now and then.

    1. I find the word “help” so weird!! it really means hiring someone for a job that is specific (a nanny, a cook, a cleaning-person, an assistant,etc); “help” is usually free ;) it has probably to do with the guilt of not doing and pretending you’re only helped when the employee actually does the whole work…

  3. We had an amazing cleaner in my last shared house – with five of us it was so nice to have someone come once a fortnight and make the place lovely. Right now it’s just me and my fiancé and our flat is pretty wee, so we can handle it (most of the time), but I don’t think I’d feel any guilt about hiring someone if we needed to.

  4. I’d love a cook but given the choice, I’d go with cleaning help any day! When I was working from home,, before we had kids, I hired a cleaner to come every 2 weeks. Wuld totally do it again if finances allow.

  5. Strong opinion subjects make for the most fascinating conversations! I am a student and my husband is a struggling artist- full time. We do not have any help nor do we come from families growing up that could afford it. As a child, we did have baby-sitters from time to time so my parents could go out for dinner without the four of us climbing all over them.

    But I wouldn’t think negatively of someone who could hire a cleaning person or nanny, etc- more power to you! And if you can and want to handle your household without outside help, that’s cool, too.

    I would hope that every parent has the opportunity at least sometimes to enjoy child-free time- to reconnect with their partner and themselves- whether that be from a family member, neighbor, or paid sitter.

  6. My husband and I both work full time, and we quickly realized that without help we end up with little time for anything but professional work & household work. We have always had a babysitter out of necessity when we’re working, and we pay people to help with the house cleaning and yard work so that when we are all at home together we can spend our time with each other and the kids.

    I am conscious of the privilege and social inequity that accompanies the concept of “hired help”, but my view is that if there is someone eager for the work and I am able to provide a job, it is on balance a positive thing.

  7. I think (don’t quote me on it” that it was May West who said “I can be your cook, housekeeper, or your lover”.

    Ask your husband which one he would prefer!

    I have no qualms about hiring help when needed. Hiring domestic help provides jobs and lessens the burden for mums especially. An un burdened mum is a happier mum and happier mums make better mums.

  8. Well, I AM the help. Before I had kids I cleaned 14 houses a week. I mostly worked for young moms who just wanted me to do kitchens and bathrooms. They loved it and I loved it. We would often clean side by side and I had more than one person tell me that it was nice to have someone come in as a motivator to get things done!

    Now I just work at one house a few hours a week and if I could, I would have someone come and clean MY house. It’s a little discouraging to come home from cleaning all morning to a mess. Although I am pretty particular about how things are cleaned, so maybe I would like it if someone just came in to watch my kids for two hours so I could get the bathrooms and kitchen done! I’ve come full circle…

    1. Oh goody! I was hoping that someone who worked as a driver/babysitter/housekeeper would chime in. I can imagine it’s a challenge to come home from cleaning to more cleaning.

      I remember thinking the same thing for my dad, who taught public school. He came home from work to a house full of kids. Challenging!

  9. As soon as I got my first real job after university I hired someone to clean my apartment. For me it was money well spent. I despise cleaning and spending my weekend doing it was not worth it in my opinion. Now we two children we have someone come in every second week for a full clean and the other week just for a vacuum/floor mopping. This weekly help is invaluable to us and we get to spend our free time with our kids rather than cleaning.
    I love cooking, so I would not want to pay anyone for that. I don’t mind laundry – but having someone iron, that would be a nice luxury!

  10. The only strong opinion I have in this matter is this: I would definitely, certainly and without a doubt, hire Branson as my chauffeur!!

    1. that was my first thought!!! he would be the best, but any chauffeur could do the trick for me. I hate to drive and live far from the city!

  11. There is no shame in asking (or paying) for a little extra help when you need it! Full time working momma with a 1 year old and a 2 year old and the money we spend to have our wonderful house cleaner come do a big cleaning of our apartment every 2 weeks is money well spent and time saved!

  12. I’d love to get help but I have some kind of inner defense against it. My mum had a cleaner who would come once a week to wipe the floors. I always felt uncomfortable when she was around. Even as a kid it made me feel guilty that we could pay people to clean off our dirt.
    I have no problem with anybody else doing it, I just can’t do it myself. I used to feel like this when I took a cab, too.
    Also: I am a very emotional and sometimes moody person and I would be concerned that the cleaner is always coming just on that very day where I don’t want to see anybody in my house. Since I am working from home it would be hard to avoid her.

    1. I have a similar inner defense, but it’s directed toward people working on my body. Like a massage. I love a back scratch from Ben Blair, but going to a massage makes me super uncomfortable — something about paying someone to touch me. I’m not sure what the hang up is. I’ve even had to talk myself into manicures and pedicures because of the same inner defense.

      1. Oh me too!! I can barely understand it. I would love my husband could give me massages though, but it’s like an eagle with it’s claws over my shoulders, haha, awful!

  13. Growing up, we had a cleaning lady who came once a week. As I got older, I was vaguely uncomfortable when I was home during her cleaning time. I was sure she was thinking something like – What was I doing sitting around while she cleaned my house?

    Fast forward to me as a grown-up with a toddler and a full-time job (and a husband with a full-time job). When a friend recommended her a housekeeper we jumped at the chance. She only came once a month, but it was great knowing the house was getting really clean at least that often.

    But then on a day near Christmas when she was cleaning for us our video camera and computer went missing. Although we were incredibly reluctant to believe it was her, the police were all but certain. We didn’t press charges (I’m sure if she did take the stuff it was long gone), but we did let her go and notified everyone we’d recommended her to.

    In terms of hired help, a housekeeper is what we could really use. Neither my husband nor I love cleaning and since we work full-time it’s easy to find other ways to use the free time we do have. However, after our earlier experience, we’re gun shy. So instead our house is just really dusty!

  14. Cleaner, for sure! My husband and I take turns tackling the big weekly tasks, but I’d be happy to give up my turn for the bathroom!

    This topic of help is something I’ve thought about a lot, as a parent who works outside the home, and I’ve gotten to a place where I am happy and confident about the way we do things. I have more help with childcare than a lot of my friend with kids the same age – many of them work part time and have the kids go to daycare or grandparents one or two or three days a week. I work full time, so my daughter goes to a truly lovely daycare five days a week. I also have a teenage neighbour who comes for an hour once a week so I can go for a run or finish some work before my husband gets home in the evening. Plus my parents visit our city often and are great helps! I used to think, “why do I need so much help, when everyone else seems to get by mostly on their own?” Then I realized, this is what makes me happy, productive, and most importantly, a good mom. I am lucky to have it, and don’t worry anymore about needing/wanting different things that others, sometimes.

  15. Carrie Corder

    I am a stay-at-home mom, so somehow I always feel a bit guilty at the thought of getting help, like if I could just stay focused I should be able to do it all myself. My husband works nights/evenings about twice a week. And since the addition of our 3rd child, (our kids are now 4, 2, and 2 mo) I’ve hired a babysitter to help me on the nights he’s gone. It really helps keep my stress level down, especially having help while I cook dinner and while I get the kids ready for bed. Yet, still sometimes it pops into my head, “other mother’s do this alone. Why can’t you?”

    1. “Yet, still sometimes it pops into my head, “other mother’s do this alone. Why can’t you?””

      Oh. I know that question. And I hope you ignore it! Just because someone is doing it alone, doesn’t mean they should be doing it alone. And if you’ve found something that works for you, then hooray!

  16. I have a cleaner who comes every other week–she makes my life better. It comes down to priorities–I don’t eat out much and haven’t seen a movie in the theatre in other a year, but I also don’t have to spend an entire day every other week scrubbing the bathtub. It was just too much, I had to let go of something. I am embarrassed sometimes to mention that I have a cleaner, but I find that half the people who it comes up in conversation with wish they had one and the other half have one and feel the same way I do.

  17. I would hire someone to weed my yard and clean my floors and bathrooms. I talked with my husband last month about it and he is up for the house cleaning, HURRAY!!! Just need to find someone who is up for the task.
    If you can manage it, go for it! If you need a break or sanity, get help!

  18. i was literally juuuust thinking (and writing) about this topic. i was really sick during my first trimester of this pregnancy, could hardly keep my 2 year old fed and absolutely didn’t do anything else, and all i could think was, “we need HELP!” however, we can’t afford to hire anyone to help right now, so we didn’t. but i really would. probably not full-time because i am not employed outside my home and normally i am pretty up to all that running the house requires of me, but definitely during times of struggle or…baby i would.

    i just finished “crossing to safety” by wallace stegner, and when two couples have babies around the same time they both hire “a girl” to help with the baby. one couple is filthy rich and the other is barely making ends meet, but part of their little budget includes hiring help for the baby transition. that was set in the late ’30s, but it doesn’t really seem to be DONE anymore. i frankly wish it were.

    1. Crossing to Safety is one of my very favorite books! And I wonder the same thing. It just seems sensible to have another adult around when you’re caring for a new baby or when your children are very young. I wonder why that fell out of fashion?

  19. Too funny! Ever since my twins arrived (they are almost 8 months old), I have been fantasizing about Alice from Brady Bunch, too :-)
    I would LOVE to have some help. We moved to a new city in the middle of my pregnancy, an my husband is at work all day. So I’m doing this twin thing on my own. Sadly, we are still trying to sell our house in our home town (after almost a year), and withe mortgage and rent to pay, help is not in our budget. I think I would like a cleaner most. The thought of having a stranger watch my kids makes me nervous (first time mom here). But someone to help keep this constant mess under control would be a dream come true.

  20. this is tricky for us, in that we live next door to my in-laws who do not understand the concept of help, private schools, homeschooling, anything out of the norm…so there are a lot of opinions (nicely given) but still there. i was raised with the same stereotypes – “we’re just not those sort of people”. and then i went away to a prestigious boarding school (0n scholarship), lived abroad, traveled, had help, didn’t have help – and along the way i clearly defined what would work perfectly for me. as a homeschooling mom who writes and runs two companies on the side – the perfect help would be to have a P.A. – since film is my background, i would want a version of me in college running around here – and i would be the director doing my art, my thing while the P.A. did all the go-for jobs, allowing me more time with my kids – run to the store for this, pick up that, go to the post office, deposit this…and on and on. and while i have had to hire a nanny to come in for 6 hours a week to let me get writing done on a regular basis – i feel uncomfortable with much longer – in that my kids are mine and if i’m going to spend money, it’s going to be so i can spend more time with my kids. that being said, my husband and i feel really strongly that daily cleaning/yard help is not good for the kids. deep cleaners and occasional landscaping (seasonal) is one thing – but the daily/weekly chores of home maintenance are hugely important for the kids to learn. okay…two cents.

    ps: having lived in a third world country, the concept of help is conflicting. i looooved the girl that helped in our home (she became one of my best friends), but so many girls were being kept almost as indentured servants – so many treated inappropriately and worked too hard because their employers knew that whether they paid or not, overworked or not – the alternative was not a real alternative – the girls never wanted to go back to the fields, their older arranged marriages, the lack of electricity, etc…and would put up with bad treatment in order to stay safe. what we as americans would do concerning help, is not what many of their fellow countrymen would do. our guilt is our cultural norm, while it is not in many countries – leading to much abuse. another two cents. signing off :)

      1. I live in India and, while it is true that help does get abused in some situations, there are plenty of households where they are quite happy. Frankly, I was loathe to say anything on this thread because I have a cook, a driver, a cleaner and a live-in maid to help with my son. When my son was younger, I had a full time nanny for him as well.

        Yes, I am in the position of significant privilege, but please bear in mind that we do lack several of the conveniences you have – no dishwashers or dryers here. We also live in a country where, if the house is not swept and dusted EVERY day, we would live under a layer of dust by day 3. The local cuisine and tradition demands fresh and hot food at every meal. We don’t do sandwiches or salads except on occasion and almost never at home. We don’t have creches, babysitting or day cares and depend entirely on family and staff while we are working. I commute over an hour to and from work in extremely chaotic traffic so I use the time in the car to make all my phone calls. Of course, I have grown up with staff so I don’t have any qualms about hiring help.

        We also have a relationship with our staff whom we treat as dependents. I have stood surety for loans to all my staff at one time or the other to help them with purchasing their homes and having family weddings. I open bank accounts for my live-in staff and transfer money to their parents of family back home if they need it. I’m currently helping my cleaner find a divorce lawyer. This aspect of having staff is often overlooked, but it is very common here.

        I have to agree that I am the happiest mother, wife and daughter when I am not completely stressed out coming home to cook a full dinner or cleaning the house – and Indian men traditionally do not help out much with every day tasks. At the end of the day I am glad to have any extra time to spend with my son and husband.

  21. I work full time and have 2 children. 6 weeks ago I treated myself to a cleaner! Caroline comes on a Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours – the pleasure I get from coming home to an immaculate house (even though it only lasts for a few minutes) is priceless!
    I thought I’d feel guilty . . . . But I don’t!

  22. I hate cleaning, so I would hire a cleaner in a hot minute if we had the money. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder how much money we would have to have before it seemed like a legitimate expenditure. There are a ton of things I’d rather have–vacations, real art, dinners out–than somebody to clean the bathroom.

    1. I know what you mean. Sometimes, even when we’ve had funds to put toward help, I’d rather spend it on something else — maybe an alternative luxury. For me, it all depends on my life at the moment.

    2. See, I haaaaaate cleaning (I don’t think I’m very good at it…is that possible or am I just lazy?), so that $60/month is so worth it to me. The way I see it, it’s a pair of shoes/month, and I don’t need anymore shoes anyway. ;) Of course…I take vacations and have dinners out too… and I’m at the veeeeery most scraping the bottom of middle class, so….I’m kind of surprised to hear you say that. I don’t have kids though, so that could very well be the difference?

  23. My dream would be to hire an accountant…someone to keep track of all the bills and be smart about investing. Also, in my dream, they would keep me on a budget.

    1. We have an accountant. We mostly only talk to him at tax time, but we adore him! He doesn’t do our bookkeeping, but we do call him for advice when needed.

  24. I have cleaners twice a month. It’s heavenly, and forces me to pick things up every two weeks :). For years, I didn’t hire someone to do it because I felt like a failure that I wasn’t able to keep up with everything myself. I’ve let go of that expectation. There’s no guilt – these are people who need to earn money, and I’m in a position to help.

  25. I’m italian, and here in Italy it’s quite normal hiring cleaners. Even if we aren’t rich at all (we are teachers), we have a nice woman coming three times a week, and when my kids weren’t at school we had a baby sitter four times a week too. Not only in US, but in many european countries, especially in the north, many people think is a “waste” of money hiring help for things you can do by yourself or, worse, they feel guilty. Well, even with some help my husband and I feel exhausted almost every day and I have the sensation that I’m spending my whole life folding the laundry.

  26. Yeah, I still don’t quite understand the cultural transition from most middle-class homes having someone who comes in to cook or clean to “if you don’t do it yourself, you’re deficient in some way.” It makes me sad. I would totally hire help but my husband thinks it’s a waste of money. I can see his point… but the house is a wreck. Obviously neither of us can keep up with it on our own, so hiring help seems like a no-brainer to me.

      1. It has to do with a quiet backlash to women’s rights campaigns in the later 20th century, especially after the end of WW2. Women before the war stayed mostly at home, but often had hired help. Whether you were on a farmstead or in an urban setting, stay at home mothers very often had help and it was considered normal and even expected. (But with the suffragettes came serious criticism of women not doing their duties at home. Example: http://img703.imageshack.us/img703/1791/suffragetteshome.jpg)

        During the war, many women had to go to work. They had help at home so they could go to work.

        After the war, women were very often shunted out of those jobs and back into the home. This came with some huge expectations of being the quintessential housewife (the expectation from the men to give them the home life they had been missing while at war, and to ensure women were back at home…but they still often had help.)

        1970s-80s. Women’s rights maturing to a point where women are really entering the work force in large numbers (think giant shoulder pads!) and with it came the concept that if you were spending time out and about on women’s rights, spending time out of the house on your own interests, and yes, spending time out of the house working, you were shirking your wifely duties at home. That led to the idea that even hiring help meant you were shirking your duties at home. With that? Guilt that you were actually shirking your wifely and motherly duties. Judgement ensues.

        Annnnd here we are. Pendulum just kept swinging over too far.

  27. I would hire a house leaner if I had the funds. Both my husband ani work outside the home and it’s a mad scramble in the afternoon to pick up kids from school, hang out with them, make dinner and lunches for the next day, bath, books, bed, and then to do it all over the next day. We save the weekends for our family, so it makes it hard to do laundry, dishes and general house cleaning. :)

    My sister had live-in help when her work sent her to

  28. Over the past 13 years we have had it all: live in full time help, weekly cleaners, a daily housekeeper. The daily housekeeper was my favorite situation, she came 8-noon, 4 days a week and it was perfect. And now in Switzerland – we started with a weekly cleaner but then I found out she was here illegally- which I didn’t want to get involved in – since this is not our country, and then being in the most expensive place on the planet, it was so pricey that I decided not to find someone new and all three kids are in school full time now I am cleaning my own house! The Full Spectrum! I think each to their own on the help issue, it made me a more relaxed mother when my kids were small and my husband travelled all the time. And even though I didn’t care for it, having someone live in makes it easier when living in places you don’t have family and there are midnight trips to E.R’s.

  29. I think whatever help you want or need is fine if it makes your life function better. However, the thing that I do not really understand are women who have lots of help but do not work, cook, run errands, or clean. I live in an exspensive part of the united states where it seems that many nannies are raising kids while the moms are at the gym, shopping, going to lunches, getting nails done, etc. In the local mom group I joined I was the only mom who did not have help and was sort of looked at like I was crazy!

    1. I agree, Kate! I’ve had friends whowere nannies, and heard a few horror stories.

      I’m not sure Ireally understand my own feelings on this subject. This reminds me of the book “The Help.” I don’t like the idea that hired help creates a distinction of class. In fact, I’ve thought a lot lately about our janitors at work. I try to thank them as much as possible because I know I’m much better off because of them!

    2. When I grew up my mom and all of her friends stayed at home and no one would blink an eye at them playing tennis once a week or joining a bridge club. No one expected these women to spend every moment devoted to their children and their homes. Now the idea of an ideal stay at home mom seems to have changed and women are seen as selfish or wasteful if they’re not home baking from scratch, playing with their children, etc.

      In general I try to not be judgmental of anyone’s position and realize that everyone has a different capacity for work, parenting, house keeping, etc. and for some women the ideal life is one where they can stay home with their children and have time for the gym, lunches with friends, etc. Just because a women spends an hour or two a day doing something for herself, in no way means that someone else is raising her children.

      1. I am all for getting out and doing things that make you happy. I am not insinuating that women need to be super moms and only do things for their kids, spouse, or home. I am not referring to women who take time for themselves a few hours a day. I am talking about women (who I know) who do not work and are out of their homes most of the time and do not see their children very much. Just seems odd to me. Thats all.

  30. I would love to hire a cleaner – I think. My younger sister has, and has made it work even when her husband was between jobs – she commutes an hour each way, so it really helps her. We both work, and are now at a place where we probably could afford it. maybe after I get settled in at my new job.

    And along the cultural note, my sister married a South African. His family was working-class, lower-middle-income – and they ALWAYS had both a maid/cook and a gardener. It’s just what was done. His parents were a little taken aback when they moved to the States and realized that they couldn’t bring in help at the same proportionate wage.

  31. I would love to hire a cleaner or a cook! That’s my big dream if I ever win the lottery… someone to cook for me! LOL I’ve never had hired help, other than taking my girls to the occasional sitter. My grandmother worked as a house cleaner though and one summer that I visited her I went with her while she worked.

    I remember when Rebecca Woolf of Girl’s Gone Child mentioned that she was hiring help after she had her twin girls, bringing her child total up to four. Some of the comments were really judgmental, like because she made her living “working from home” she shouldn’t “need” help. I was totally outraged on her behalf.

  32. I recently chatted on the phone with a relative of mine about this topic.
    She works full time and has a huge 3 story home. I asked her how in the h*** she manages to keep all of those wood floors clean…and she hesitated. She said “you know, I actually have someone come in twice a month just to clean the floors and do the bathrooms.” She said this quite sheepishly…probably because she knows I could never afford this. I am a stay-at-home mom and we are on a pretty tight budget. There is no extra cash. But you know? If there were some extra money (like if I got myself a job) I would have NO PROBLEM hiring someone to help take care of things. Why in the world do we judge eachother about such nonsense? Are we also judging the person who has a cleaning job?

    1. My cleaning lady is sending her daughter, who would occasionally come and help clean, to an ivy league school, and I always “joke” (except i’m not kidding) that I’ll be working for her daughter one day. ;) I’m super proud of both of them!

  33. My husband and I both work full time and our lovely housekeeper keeps us all sane. She has been with our family for seven years, comes once a week for four hours and cleans and irons. Like many of the other commenters, we choose to forgo certain other luxuries (eating out less often, in particualr) in order to spend our little free time doing other activities besides cleaning! In France where we live, domestic help is declared to the state and as a result we pay employer taxes on her salary and in return she has paid maternity leave, vacation and health care coverage. As an added incentive for declaring domestic help, the state offers limited tax breaks. A win-win for all.

  34. I feel like I spend every waking hour cleaning and cooking for my 3 monkeys. I’d love to have a cleaning person come once or twice a month for a once over deep clean. But would I have to organize before? Maybe I just want and organizer for a week. I know how to clean.

    1. I know what you mean. When we have had a house cleaner, there is definitely a rush to organize the house and put everything away before she arrives so that she can actually clean effectively.

  35. Housekeeper- no question
    I was too guilt ridden to get help (because of all the reasons above) until one of my sisters reminded my that no one felt guilty when we hired someone to come and cut the lawn (my husband’s job) when he was too tired or had a super busy week or just couldn’t get to it. It changed my perspective.

  36. We have a full time “nanny” who is a close family friend. She watches our toddler full time, and has the bigger kids before and after school. Over the years her role has changed. I used to have her travel with me so I wouldn’t have to go alone (my husband rarely gets to go with me), but that hasn’t happened in a few years.

    Now she is with us 3 days a week all day, plus usually another 1/2 day of either cleaning and organizing help, or just extra babysitting.

    We also have a “handyman” that we have come about once a month who does a lot of yard work. We do the normal mowing and upkeep, but he does the bigger projects (pressure washing, tearing out a flower bed etc). In fact he’s coming over tomorrow to help me reorganize the garage and install some shelving.

    I don’t think help is “bad” and I’m a firm believer that you can’t do everything you want to. I think it was an article that was either on here or linked from here that discussed the need to let things go. I personally cannot work 40+ hours a week, have a sparkling home, cook every meal from scratch, facilitate all of the activities for the kids, create and craft, and be an attentive wife. Somethings I have to pay someone else to do….

  37. We have someone come to clean twice a month. My husband I both work full time, volunteer, and have lots of outside interests. We can afford it, and while it is a luxury, it means spending more time doing the things we love. It also means supporting a local, single mother who runs her own business, and is glad that she can bring her infant to her cleans. I’m comfortable with it, and know that when I’ve traveled to other places, most often people have someone hired to help. As long as people are paid fairly, why fret? It’s a trade-off of time or money, and we are lucky to be able to use both.

  38. With the three tasks of cleaning, cooking, and child care being three of the things that cause the most strife among married/co-habitating folks, I cannot understand anyone who thinks that throwing some money every months towards eliminating or decreasing that relationship stress is a bad thing! A friend of mine was CONSTANTLY angry at her husband because she felt he didn’t help enough around the house. He finally hired a cleaning service to come two or three times a month to help keep things tidy and scrubbed. Suddenly, many of their marital problems disappeared. Some people need couple’s therapy, other people just need to hire a cleaning service, and some people need both. So what?! If it saves you time, stress, energy, and ultimately makes you a happier and saner person then GO FOR IT!


  39. This is a really interesting discussion, and I love the comments. Although a housekeeper sounds lovely, I think I’d choose a cook. And I think I’d like her to be Lindsey Johnson. :)

  40. I love this discussion. And love how many people do what’s best for them. Glorious. Okay Gabrielle, so you know my mom (Geri Rhodes from st. g) or at least your sister Sarah does :). With eight girls in the family life was hectic (you know this too!) She hired a nanny when we were kids to do all the time consuming tasks she felt took her AWAY from us like: errands, laundry, changing kitty litter, garage cleaning etc. All the things she considered “mothering” she happily assumed like driving us to school (perfect time to talk), family dinners, bed time stories, changing diapers, etc. If I had the budget I would love to do the same. More time to be with kids and less time changing filters sounds spectacular!

    1. Hey there. Just browsing the comments and I noticed that you mentioned 8 girls… I am pregnant with my second set of twin girls, totaling 8 girls all together. we currently live in a very small home and I’m struggling with this question. We homeschool, and my older girls are teens. I want to give them more social/free time, instead of playing “mommy’s helper” all day, but they feel awkward and guilty when we hire housecleaning help. I would love advice. My husband also feels that we can’t afford it, unless we hire our less fortunate friends (who aren’t the most energetic and self-motivated cleaners). Your description of what your mom did sounds like heaven to me. I would love to have the reduction in stress and be able to be fully present for my girls. Please, any advice would be appreciated!

  41. I never thought I would hire help–I’m very frugal and DIY oriented and the thought of paying someone to do something I could do myself rubs the wrong way. Plus, I am a fairly private person and don’t like having people in my space. Fast forward to having a new baby with both my husband and I working more than full time jobs, and the cleaning just wasn’t getting done. I’d find time/energy to tidy and wipe surfaces but never anything more detailed than that. Cleaning was always a big item on the weekend to do list, competing with precious family time and other home projects and weekend work demands. So we hired people to come in and do a good cleaning twice a month, and now I would never go back. No more layers of dust or tumbleweeds of dog hair aging in the corners and under the sofa. No more months’ worth of grime baked onto the stove. No more guilty weekends weighing weather to scrub the bathrooms or take the kids and dogs out for a hike in the woods. Our house is generally clean (enough) and pleasant all the time, since we are forced to stay on top of it and we have someone helping with the big stuff. In some ways I still feel guilty and feel like we are paying too much, and that if I could just be a little more organized and squeeze more out of every minute then I could do it myself (kids are still too young to really help, although they like to play at it), but in reality this is a very worthwhile expenditure, and we are paying a good hourly wage to an honest and hardworking person who is glad for the money.

  42. I’m fortunate that my oldest son completely cleans my kitchen every Sunday–dishes, floors, all of it! Just that makes my house feel really clean! When my kids were smaller, I longed for someone to come in and do laundry for me twice a week, or someone to cook good, healthy food for us and slap the quick and easy, not-so-healthy food out of our hands!

  43. I love the idea of this series, this discussions is so interesting! In fact I stopped cleaning my post-moving mess in order to read all comments, not good for me!

  44. While I absolutely plan on hiring house cleaners when my husband gets a job a tiny bit of me worries that my children will expect other people to clean up after them if they don’t see us cleaning the house together. Cleaning up after themselves (toys, room, etc) will always be expected, but somehow I can’t get rid of that nagging feeling . . .

    1. I was so afraid of that too, but I have found that someone coming every other week gives my kids a baseline idea of how a room should look. They like having a clean room 2 times a month and so are motivated to keep their room looking relatively clean. My kids are really young but are very good helpers.

  45. I’ve been thinking about this topic like crazy lately—so timely! I would hire housecleaning, hands down. It would take some adjustment but I would LOVE the additional time to devote to cooking, spending time relaxing, hanging with my family, etc. Wouldn’t feel bad for a second. One of my big goals of the next year is to get my laundry picked up/delivered. Doing laundry in Brooklyn is a total nightmare and getting it done would free my time up a ton. Honestly, I’d love all the help I could get. Feels so good to have someone else come in with a fresh perspective and help you put things in order.

    Also, the best present for new parents would be a Groupon for cleaning help! It was so hard for me to see my house so dirty when my son was a newborn. I like things clean.

    1. I’m expecting baby #3 in two months, and I work part-time. My husband cleans small businesses on the weekends (in addition to his full time job), so to ask him to help me clean the house always makes me feel bad. Cleaning help would be such a great baby gift for both of us – excellent idea, which I’m going to actually ask for from family members who keep asking what we need. :)

  46. Hiring a house cleaner to come twice a month is some of the best money I’ve ever spent! I think the comments about hiring help in other countries to help the local community is a complex issue that depends on the country and how much you’re paying your help. In South Africa I know it’s a huge problem as maids are usually expected to live-in (away from their children and fathers are most often absent) and paid very low wages. In my mind this just perpetuates a cycle of poverty as children grow up without their parents and end up in low paying/low skills jobs as maids/laborers.

  47. I never thought I would be someone who would hire help. I always figured since my husband and I are able bodied and have always handled things before, why pay for something we can do ourselves. But now with a ridiculously fun and busy 20 month old on our hands, and both of us working full time, I would gladly hire help! Someone to take care of the yards and someone to prep my food for cooking. I love to cook…but am not a fan of all the veggie washing, slicing and dicing!

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