Most people are taught from a very early age to participate in some type of regular housework or chores that were required in return for a reward. Maybe you received an allowance each week for cleaning the bathrooms. Maybe mom or dad gave you a buck or two for mowing the grass when it needed cutting. Perhaps one night a week, you had to make dinner, or even do all the ironing or laundry. I’m sure many of us remember countless years of taking out the trash, folding the linens, scouring the sinks, or vacuuming the carpets in the homes we grew up in.
To say times have changed since we were children, in terms of domestic tasking, is beyond understatement. Many families don’t even have the time to sit down together for the evening meal. After school, there are soccer practices to get to, little league baseball games and dance lessons.
These days, parents with a just a couple of kids work out incredible juggling acts of scheduling. Married couples working in fast-paced careers are just as busy, with enormous “To-Do Lists” that overwhelm the most stoic planners. It’s becoming a losing battle to keep up with regular house work. And most of us don’t want to admit this.
Instead of thinking about getting help, most people do what they can when they know, in advance, that visitors or relatives are coming over. I call this “cram-cleaning.” Cram-cleaning is when you do a month’s worth of house work in two to four hours and play catch-up as best you can. Maybe you even have a room where all the piles of unopened mail go along with all the dirty laundry you haven’t done in two weeks. Then you shut that door tight when guests arrive.
Whatever your situation may be, you feel the guilt nagging away at you. You should have been on top of things! You weren’t raised this way! Your mind reasons that you should be able to manage all the housework, work a full-time job, commute through hours of traffic, get the kids/pets/yourself to all the activities you’re involved in, with time to spare to actually enjoy some recreation.
But deep down, your heart knows you just can’t get this done.
That’s where a maid or cleaning service comes to the rescue.
“But wait a minute! I’m not letting someone come into my house and do the work I should be doing! And even letting someone into my house, especially if I’m not there, gives me the heebie-jeebies.”
Again, times have changed. Having someone clean your house for you can not only be smart, economical and time-saving, but also could open up so much more time for important activities with your family and friends.
Another perk for using a maid service is simply what I refer to as the “Awe! Ooh! Ah!” effect. Think about stepping into a fresh, clean house at 6:30 pm on a Friday. That’s the reward you are given at the end of 40+ hours of working hard, driving for hours in traffic, and running hundreds of other errands all week long. Almost as soothing as a mental massage, walking into a freshly-cleaned home can bring a sense of relief, cheer, and it will immediately put you into a grand mood for the coming weekend.
So, if I have convinced you to take the leap and you are going to go right out and find a maid service, let me mention a few things I’ve learned over the years that will save you some grief and stress:
You do not have to clean your house for the maid. This was a tough one for me at first. It took me a few months to get out of the habit of the “maid is coming tomorrow” clean-up. Let the service do its job that you are paying for. Don’t wash those dishes and don’t put up the dirty socks. Don’t vacuum the dog hair off the carpet either! You’ll be tempted, but don’t give in. Believe me when I say they have probably seen much worse.
Also, if you have valuable items such as jewelry, coin collections, Star Wars figurines, or the like, then go ahead and invest in both a good-sized fire safe (bolted to the floor or wall) and get as many locked cabinets you’ll need for collections such as CDs, DVDs, or other valuable items. Do this before giving any service, even a bonded maid service, the key to your home. If you have quite a lot of items you are worried about, go ahead and place these things in one locked room that the maid will not be able to access. In the decade or so that I have used maid services, I have never had anything lost or stolen due to suspected foul play. This is because I believe in the power of preventive action, as opposed to the prospect of regularly worrying about my special possessions while I’m out of the house.
Finally, be sure you let the service know exactly what you expect them to do. Write a list of reminders or tasks for them to go by. Also, provide regular feedback to the service manager about anything you are not happy with. Don’t be shy! You are paying them to do a job. You should not let anything slide. Even if you think something was a small oversight, go ahead and let them know about it. I’ve found that the more often you provide feedback, the better the service will get.
The key to having a maid service is getting your dollar’s worth along with a worry-free relationship and the piece of mind that comes with it. Once you have this figured out, every experience will be met with those “Awes!” “Oohs!” and “Ahs!”