I have a dirty little secret. I use a housecleaning service.
Outsourcing chores and using domestic services has saved my sanity.
A few years ago, a friend told me that she had hired a woman to come every other week to clean her house. It was the first time I realized that this sort of service was something that might be accessible to me; I had previously attributed these sorts of luxuries like domestic services to those in a higher class and paycheck bracket than my own. I then discovered other women I knew that utilized housecleaning services, but were quite clandestine about it; they were afraid of the judgment around being seen as not able to manage their household, of being seen as “not having it all together.” They were also afraid of not seeming frugal enough.
I have to admit that this left me pretty confused. There was someone with an entrepreneurial venture, as most local cleaning businesses are, who I could support while she would clean my home, and whose assistance I would value, and in doing so would give me back hours of time for myself and my family? On the surface, it hardly felt like something I should feel guilty about. Judgment, however, comes in all shapes and sizes; I certainly had my own preconceived notions about outsourcing chores and other domestic services, and I wrestled with thoughts like:
Who was I, to hire help?
Did I think I was above doing household chores?
Was I not able to stay on top of everything as a proper mother and wife should?
Couldn’t the money being spent on work I could do myself be more intentionally used?
Let me be the first to tell you that hiring help does not equate to having character flaws.
I was raised to do my fair share of work, to get my hands dirty, to do the heavy lifting, and I wasn’t looking to evade the responsibilities of running my household. I am not entitled. I am not soft or spoiled, nor am I lazy or indulgent. My children are raised knowing we expect them to be hard workers, and I hold them responsible for their fair share of household chores.
We are, however, in the busiest season of our lives. We are trying to create family experiences and enjoy our children, who are growing much too fast before our eyes. We are professionals, who work outside the home, and balance those responsibilities with our family life on a daily basis. My husband and I are up at 5:30am and we don’t sit down until at least 9pm; many nights, it’s much later.
Every day, parents are faced with numerous tasks that go along with raising children and running a household. Regardless of if you are a stay-at-home parent or you work outside the home, as my husband and I do, there are a myriad of things that need doing. And, I’ll be honest, I thrive in a clean, organized space. My husband and I have struggled to manage my admittedly overzealous organized nature, and have had more than a few battles about balancing the household chores.
I used to think that I single-handedly needed to be the doer of all of the things, and this was where my fulfillment as a mother would grow. I have learned, however, that I cannot and do not want to do all of the things, that this leads to an overwhelmed, frustrated, discontent mother and, subsequently, family. My husband, who does carry his own fair share of the load, just isn’t as driven to check all the boxes of the menial, everyday household tasks, as I, the keeper of the never-ending to-do list of tasks, am.
I would prefer to make dates with my husband rather than with my vacuum. I like to spend my time enjoying activities with my family, versus spending quality time with my toilets.
Hiring out domestic services was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made; I am grateful for the value that it adds to my life, and the time it gives back to me. This service directly impacts my comfort in my home, my peace of mind, and it is one of the few things that I can pay for to add hours to my days.
Not cleaning my own house directly positively impacts the time I have available to spend. I have more time and energy to devote to being intentional in showing up for my family; for example, I can either spend my evenings cleaning our floors, or I can prepare and cook wholesome meals for my family, while also creating space for quality time with them in the evenings. Additionally, I am able to carve out a few hours a week to prioritize my personal goals, and my husband can pursue his as well. My time is monetarily invaluable, it can’t be expanded in any other way than to be intentional with how I am using it, and that is how I am able to justify this expense and how I motivate to curb spending in other areas in order to make housecleaning expenses a reasonable solution for our family.
You may feel that hiring out domestic services is something that you may not be able to afford; I would encourage you to do a bit of research with companies in your area, as many offer a range of options, from coming every week to once a month, as well as your choice of the rooms they clean to manage the time spent and therefore your budget. For instance, we opted for a service that comes for two hours twice a month, and they focus on the kitchen, living spaces and bathrooms. I would estimate that those four hours I pay for each month save me seven to eight hours of my own time – not to mention the invaluable peace of mind this service gives me.
Hiring someone to clean your home is not everyone’s cup of tea, of course. Perhaps you truly enjoy cleaning your home, or really aren’t comfortable with the thought of someone you don’t know being within your space.
Outsourcing domestic services is not limited to housecleaning; I use a grocery shopping service that saves me time and money (no random hunger-motivated grabbing from the aisle end caps). It helps with meal planning and we get the whole family involved. Occasionally, when her schedule and homework load allows, my oldest daughter will plan, prepare and cook a meal, something that she really enjoys; outsourcing grocery shopping also gives us the opportunity to be intentional about what we eat.
We must make our time and how we spend it count. It’s easy to feel like we can’t possibly build more hours into our days, but using services that outsource routine tasks is one way to be more meaningful with our time.
What does outsourcing tasks look like in your life, and what domestic services do you enjoy? I’m always up for learning a few new tricks to add to my arsenal.