Friday, September 13, 2013

Wisconsin 101: Cleaning up by cleaning house

I was listening to a podcast of The Boss Show, which, if you have a boss, I highly recommend because you will learn that You Are Not Alone and let's just leave it at that because although I would like to change employers, I want it to be my choice, not theirs, and they were talking about dual-career couples.

Now, they were talking mostly about the issues faced by dual-career couples who also have children, which are a million times tougher than those issues faced by dual-career couples without children.

I am not going to even try to pretend there is any equivalence between children and pets. You guys know where I stand on that: I am not my cats' mommy. The Big Factotum is not the grandma. They are cats. Not humans. SH will baby talk to the cats, but he knows they are not babies. They are cats.

For those people who cannot distinguish between pets and children, let me offer a few points that should make the differences clear:

1. Cats do not need to be potty trained. They get it.
2. Cats meow. They do not talk. I know what the meows mean:
a. Feed me
b. Let me out
c. Let me in
d. Pay attention to me
But that does not mean they are speech.

3. Children need braces. Cats do not.
4. Children go to college. Cats do not.
5. You can train a child to stay off the counter.

So even though SH and I have two cats, we do not face the same issues that dual-career couples with children face. We have it easy. We have first-world problems.

Still, our first-world problems are a problem to us. And the Boss Show guys addressed one of the key problems: The getting and maintaining of a clean house.

The way it works now, I spend Saturday mornings doing laundry, cooking for the week, cleaning the bathroom, and cleaning the kitchen. SH vacuums the entire house and cuts the grass and calls the roofers to give us an estimate.

We are moving towards a more equitable split of chores, but it is a zero-sum game: for me not to have to do something, SH has to do it. SH is not in favor of this system.

(I am assuming that we want to maintain a base level of cleanliness here. Sure, we could let the place go to heck, but we are drowning in cat fur as it is.)

(Let me add to the above list of the differences between cats and children: Children do not shed,)

The Boss Show guys said, basically, Quit making yourself crazy spending your free time cleaning your house and hire a cleaning lady. It doesn't cost any more than a nice dinner out.

This idea does not bother me at all.

I have a friend who says she takes some crap from her friends for having a cleaning lady, but I shrugged and said, "You're paying someone to do a service. Is that bad?"

I was in the Middle East on a business trip a few months ago. My colleague, Steph, and I were at a dinner with someone from the country, Ayisha. She had to call her driver to arrange to be picked up. Her car was in the shop, she explained.

Steph and I looked at each other and raised our eyebrows, thinking to each other, The car is in the shop so her driver has to pick her up.

I asked Ayisha if there was a good place to get an inexpensive pedicure.

Oh, she said matter of factly, everyone I know has the beautician come to her house.

I see, I said.

We got on the subject of in-home help. Of course she had a maid, she said. A maid who worked every day.

Steph and I explained that in the U.S., only rich people have daily maids.

Ayisha asked, puzzled. Then who cleans your houses?

Steph and I looked at each other and laughed. We do!

Ayisha looked horrified.

We explained that ordinary people might have a cleaning lady every two or three weeks, but nobody we knew had a daily maid.

Note that Ayisha lives in a country with lots of resident aliens who can never hope to achieve citizenship who work for very low wages.

SH and I talked about hiring someone to help. I had a cleaning lady in Memphis and when I was a Peace Corps volunteer. (You can afford a weekly cleaning lady when you are in the Peace Corps because the rest of the people around you are so poor. Which is kind of stomach turning.)

I looked on Angie's List. Found one of the top-rated cleaning ladies in my area. Called her.

I wanted to test her out and I wanted to hire someone to help me for two hours a few nights before The Big Factotum gets here.

I was thinking $25-$30 an hour, which is actually more than I take home after taxes. And although I acknowledge that it is not easy to clean a house well, it is still harder to do the job I do for money than to clean my house.

When I talked to this cleaning lady, she said her initial fee for a house my size - three bedrooms, two baths - and situation - two adults, two cats - would be about $175 to $250.

Which was when I said Thank you very much, but that is out of my budget. So I guess I will continue to spend my Saturdays cleaning my house and letting my standards slip. And I will consider starting my own housecleaning business because it seems pretty lucrative and I wouldn't have to prepare one more financial presentation ever again.


Gaylin said...

I recently lowered my 'base level of cleanliness'. I live alone and really, I only need to do a thorough clean right before someone comes to visit!

Having no pets OR children make tidiness easier.

Kitchen clean, check.
Bathroom clean, check.
Laundry done, check.
Me clean, check check check . . .

AKJ said...

My maid is $45 a week. Comes every Friday and is not an illegal alien. But that is Texas for you. Move

MomQueenBee said...

My mother always told me that if I had the ability to make money professionally (and was doing so)I had the social responsibility to give someone else the opportunity to earn money by cleaning my house. She was a wise, wise woman.