Most of us have never had a person working at home, when we were growing up. Apart from the occasional babysitter or tutor, most of our moms juggled housework and paidwork or were SAHMs.
Because of this, most of us find that hiring and having a person to be in our house a certain number or hours per week is more a source of stress than a way of delegating unpleasant or unwanted work. It´s not just searching for a normal, competent person who will do a certain job to certain standards. They must convey trustworthiness, cleanliness and, most importantly, they must fit into our family dynamics.
Every family has a certain dynamic, a way of relating to one another and coexisting in the same house. Every house has its rhythms and its natural order. Grasshopper´s house, for example, must be pristine at all times. Even if they all work 10-12 hour days, the kitchen must be spotless, no dust is allowed on the glassware and it must be organized in a certain way depending on the number of glasses of each set at a particular time. This is not only a cause of stress for them, because they always seem to think the house is a mess (when it never is, well, maybe on ironing day), but it also means that noone else can help them clean up. I´ve been there every week for the last three years and still can´t unload the dishwasher because I know that his mom will not like how I have lined up the glasses and will have to do it again when she gets off work.
My house is much more chaotic, though we do tend much more towards Diogenes than OCD. This means that we can enjoy our home time as wind down time, but it also means that books pile up on tables and chairs and the floor every couple of days. And we often run out of clean coffee spoons. Maybe not the best system either.
Like many people my mom agonised over hiring someone to do some of the chores. Finally, my mom has decided to hire some help, and we asked my grandma, who has experience in this, for some advice. Here are some of her tips:
1.- Set priorities: decide which chores you want to delegate, how many hours you want to hire the cleaner for and how much to pay them. Decide if you want to be present or if you want to give them a key.
2.- Set boundaries from the start: establish the chores to be completed and how thorough the work must be. Your bedroom or some work areas might need to be off limits. Similarly, you may not like to have your drawers and closets opened. Say so from the start. Make a point of anything you deem inappropiate or unsafe.
3.- Explain in detail: if you are like Grasshopper´s mom you have two choices: do it youself or explain exactly how things must be done. Maybe you want a specific product on your induction plate, can´t stand lemon-scented cleaners or you favour brooms over vacuums. Say so, make it plain and provide the necessary equipment and products.
4.- You are the boss. You decide how clean clean really is and how tidy a room must be to make you happy. If you need to clean up before the cleaner arrives, or you hate the way the unplug the toaster and hide your trash can, reconsider hiring or maintaining that person. Don´t be afraid to speak up when something is not to you liking.
5.- Don´t pity your cleaner: being a cleaner is like any other job: you need to do it in a set time, to set standards and fit into the company atmosphere. If you find that your cleaner is not in tune with you family´s and your house´s rhythms, simply say that you don´t think it´s working out. I don´t need to tell you that the job market is very bad at the moment. Firing someone is always hard. But you are paying and, therefore, you need to decide if you are happy with your employee or not. If not, find someone else because, I don´t need to tell you that the job market is very bad at the moment and many other great people are looking for a chance.
6.- Be kind to your cleaner: I know this is obvious for all of us, but remember that no amount of money can pay for mistreating your staff, whether at work or at home.
Thank you Ambro and for the photo.
Have you ever had a house cleaner? How did you decide to hire them? Have you ever had to fire them?