Sunday, April 13, 2014

Housekeeper (Part II)

I am currently preparing for reentry. Reentry to the U.S.A. Reentry to the way it is supposed to be done.

I must admit that after having a housekeeper for four years, I am struggling with the thought of having one (and not having one) in the U.S.A. I truly don't want to do without one. But as a "doctor's wife", I do think about what people will think of me.

You can click here to read the post I wrote detailing the reasons that I want to have s housekeeper for the rest of my life.

I continue to echo the sentiments in this post. I find it interesting that in America you are allowed to eat out as many times a week that you want (something that just isn't done in Turkey or here in Portugal.) You are "allowed" to drive a car you don't actually own and really can't afford. We run our dryers and heat without a second thought. We would not consider living without a cell phone, cable, or Internet. We have to have a yearly vacation.

But getting a housekeeper is considered "only for the rich."

As I continue to think about what I will do in regards to this when I return to the U.S. of A, I wanted to share some of the comments I received when I wrote my first post on this topic:
  • I love this! We had a housekeeper who came twice a month while my sister and I were both working full time. It essentially saved us two whole days a month where we would have to clean the house. I really loved it. Now, since I do a little work online and take care of E, I feel like it would be bad for me to have a housekeeper....bad as in I'm not a great enough mom to do it all. :( It's all about perception and expectations though. When E goes to school and I go back to work, I plan on definitely having one so that all of my free time can be spend with the fam. :)
  • I think the one thing holding me back is the safety issue. I would be interested to hear what others think about this. I'm a very private person, and to have someone in my house often is uncomfortable for me. Okay, (now don't yell at me!) but I worry about theft or weird stuff happening. I know, I know, too much tv watching for me! :)
    I guess one other option is that people could do what I do---just not clean their house often enough, and then once a month (or thereabouts) have a big house cleaning party with the husband and kids. :)
  • I understand what you are saying, but it seems a luxury stateside. And for a family where one parent stays home, it seems unnecessary. With two working parents, I could see it making sense- times truly at a premium. As the kids get older they help more around the house, and I think the chores are important in character building, as well as pitching in and participating. When we had a maid in the Philippines, my parents wouldn't let her clean our rooms. That's my stand - I live in a gated community with lots of housekeepers employed. It's just not for me.
  • I'm making dinner so I had more thoughts- also in my neighborhood most lawns are cared for by lawn care services weekly. My hubby, a healthy 40 something, still cares for the lawn - a large lot, lots of landscaping, etc. I talked him into letting a local high school student with a lawn business and a push mower into mowing our lawn all summer...and though we certainly can afford the $15 a week for mowing and trimming, he really struggled with letting someone else do it. But my argument was the boy, #1 academically in his class, would benefit from it, andit would free up time from my very busy husband. Summer is over, though, and hubby is back at it.
  • It's funny you posted this today because it has actually been on my mind to hire someone to come help me. I am a stay-at-home mom to a 3-year-old and 1-year-old but I've been struggling with some depression and feel like I can't even keep up with the basic housework. I paid attention today and was in the kitchen from 8:30-12:30 - breakfast, clean up, snack, clean up, lunch, clean up. My entire morning - 4 hours!!!- was spent just cleaning the kitchen - that's ridiculous! (Though I did mop/sweep/vacuum the main living areas, too, this wasn't even deep cleaning or anything. Just your basic make a meal and do the dishes thing.) We plan on homeschooling and I keep thinking "how in the world will I find time to do any school work with the kids when it takes me 4 hours to clean the kitchen?? I've debated hiring someone for awhile but always talk myself out of it. I think just having someone come one day a week to vacuum, mop and do a quick wipe down of the bathrooms would help so much. It wouldn't even take them that much time... an hour and a half? Probably less since they wouldn't be stopped a billion times to take care of kids/dogs/husbands/phone calls. Then I think, "It's only an hour or so. I can do that. I don't need help." and the cycle continues.I think I'm going to have a talk with the husband tonight about this. I even know someone who who would jump on the chance to earn some extra cash and passes by here every afternoon on her way to work...
  • I wonder if most families in the Azores have two working parents? If I worked all day outside the home I would definitely hire help. As a SAHM I have always felt it was part of my job to also be the housekeeper, and I hated doing both when I just wanted to do fun stuff with my kids! So yes there was a time when I really wanted a housekeeper, for sure! Now my older one is in school all day so I try to get all cleaning done while he is at school and the little one is napping. It is much more manageable now.
    I do agree with the previous comment about character-building. I have worked really hard at involving my kids in cleaning up the house, cleaning up after themselves, and generally helping out. I know they are kids and need playtime, but I think teaching them that work is part of life is a good thing too. And who says chores can't be fun or at least tolerable when you have someone to help, and do a little bit at a time so it doesn't like pile up? Great post though, especially about the money part - it is amazing how much we spend on little things like coffee and TV!
  • In college, I cleaned houses and babysat. (usually for the same families!) i was able to establish relationships were they trusted me. The first few times I cleaned, someone from the family was usually around to monitor and/or answer questions. After that, I was usually given a key and cleaned while they were at work. As a college student far from home, it was really nice. I was able to work a few less hours than if I had worked at McDonalds, etc. Which really freed me up to study more. And I was able to enjoy interacting with families instead of just other students / professors all the time. I did not make $100 / house. More like $50ish every other week per house. College kids work a little cheaper! :) I would love to help out some of our youth group or college students (from our church) this way, but we're working hard to pay off debts. (No more car loans! yay!) So, maybe in a few years it will be more of a reality.
  • With 5 kids soon to be 6 and nannying full time for 2 I have debated seriously on hiring someone myself. Even my DH's Aunt has offered to come in a few hours a week and do just simple things like laundry and kids bedding. Which in fact would be the bulk of what I do anyways. I look at my house sometimes and say "thats it. I am hiring someone to help me." Then realize. No, I don't want to do that. This is my house. My responsibilities. My kids clothes, bedding, blankets, toys. Our laundry, dishes, messy backyard. I have really debated back and forth on the idea of someone coming in my house to take care of these things for me. But in the end, just feel more accomplished and glad that I did it on my own. That even with 7 kids around the house all day. And loads of laundry and homework and bills to pay and emails to write back and phone calls to make. I am proud that I can right now take care of these things. No, I am not superwoman. I never claimed to be such. But for me. Its all about responsibility. My mom was a horrible housekeeper and not always the best mom. I want to make sure that I can do all of those things and show my kids that if you organize and manage your time well. Anything is possible.Now I am not saying that this is for everyone. I have a lot of friends who have 1 or 2 children or some with even no children. They hire someone to go in and do housekeeping for them. I even baby-sat and took care of someone's house myself. Cleaning and organizing is not for everyone. But for me. I enjoy it. Though some days you will hear me utter under my breath "thats it, I am hiring someone to help me."
  • I'm a medical resident and the first thing we did when I started working (my husband is non-medical and worked during my training) was hire a weekly housekeeper. No, they may not scrub the floor behind the toilet as well as I would, but at least it gets done weekly instead of whenever I have a free half day and some energy. It's worth having the time to spend with husband and kiddo. I grew up in a home with a stay at home mom and a weekly housekeeper and still learned to clean; my mother made sure of that. I think your kids learn what you teach them, and teaching the value of your time and highlighting that something like housecleaning is a luxury, but families choose their own priorities, is a completely reasonable way to raise a family.
  • I wish it made sense to line dry clothing in Oregon, it rains too much :-( I think the idea of a house keeper is nice but I agree that it really is a luxury. Sadly American culture was not built the same as European culture and therefore cannot be compared. True, I lived in Spain for a year and Italy for 6 months and never drove. But public transport is Ah-Mazing there. Not so much here. As such, gas and car insurance, necessary. Soda and specialty coffee? Totally do away with. Also, in general, cell phones just don't seem as necessary there but part of my cell and many others is a way to connect with work. I can be home with my child but connected to work if they need me. More time at home, less in the office. Another part of American culture that end up wasteful is our idea of space. We want huge houses and huge yards and it takes a lot to heat and cool these houses and a lot of money and time to keepvupbeith the yards. In Spain and Italy, most people live in huge apartment buildings getting rid of yards and huge places to heat and cool. This also helps with better public transport. Most European cultures have few children because living is so expensive, another thing that Americans don't seem to think about as much. This comment wanders. I am with the person who mentioned trust. I tried out a housekeeper and she broke my dyson vacuum. 350 vacuum broken, no apologies or anything. After that I ended up sour and decided I will clean my own house.
  • We live abroad too and have had a weekly housekeeper the past few years. We still clean on a daily basis, make beds, tidy up, do laundry, cook, wash dishes, etc. So when our kids are older, they will definitely help with those things as chores. But the housekeeper comes once a week and gives the floors, bathrooms, and kitchen a good clean, plus does the essential ironing for the week. Ensures the house always feels clean - instead of just tidy - and saves on dry cleaning as well. We also have someone who we trust to watch our place (and help water plants, air it out, etc.) when we do long visits to the States to see family.I can't guarantee we'll get someone when we get back, but it gives us peace of mind to have the house clean all the time, and not just when we can find time to do a good job on it (and/or take us away from the kids).
  • Timely post. We are seriously considering it. Whether you are sleep deprived, working 40 or 80 hours a week or a stay-at-home-mom, it's nice to have those extra few hours to do something you enjoy. I'd also love someone to cook for me. :)
  • I totally agree with you. Except for the cell phone. I NEED my cell phone.


Anonymous said...

So, this is really interesting. There are all kinds of views and assumptions about this. I have never been in family with the means to have a housekeeper. We've sort of always said it was just part of life, that you take care of your things and clean up after yourself. That maybe even if we could afford it, we would not. Most of my friends felt the same. I still sort of see things in that way... it is hard to stray from the values you were taught growing up!

As a young adult, I continued to feel the same way. Wow - it would be nice to have someone else do this for me so I could... fill in the blank. But never really thought about it as anything approaching reality. As an adult in my 30s, I started seeing something a little different going on. Little by little, people would let it slip that they had a cleaning lady. An older working wife with grown children. A younger working wife with no children. A younger working wife with one child that didn't really even factor into the mix - she just hates house cleaning that much and it was an easy way to get rid of some stress in her life. Even some of my extended family now have a cleaning lady! The thing is, nobody really seems to talk about it. I think because of the comments people tend to make about having a housekeeper, so it's easy to ignore.

I'm still not sure if I would ever have one, though it would certainly be nice. However, I think if you call her a cleaning lady instead of a housekeeper, that seems to be more acceptable when it slips out in conversation. LOL! Kidding of course... my real point is that I think it is a service used far more often than people will admit to, and if it really is that important to you, relieves that much stress, etc, just do it. Who cares what people think. People already make lots of assumptions about doctors and their families and their lifestyles - you can't stop that. I'm sure that those who know you will not judge and will certainly know your intentions (that it is not done with a snooty tone, etc), and those are the people that matter, anyway. And in this economy, certainly someone will appreciate the work! :)

Anonymous said...

My family never had a housekeeper growing up, but with working full time and a child, I convinced my husband to let us have a cleaning company come about one per month. We are not certainly not rich! I don't tell people about it because I also feel that the societal view is that I'm failing as a wife/mother. However, we all have to prioritize our wants and needs, and my priority is spending quality time with my family. The cleaning service doesn't do everything for us, so there are still plenty of cleaning and household responsibilities for us and our child to share. Don't feel bad if you choose to have a housekeeper. I feel that your reasons for having one are right on! I would have the service come more often if we could afford it. But all in all, many people do have them, but for some reason there is a stigma about it, so many people just don't talk about having one.

Anonymous said...

My mom went through the same struggles after we returned to the states from the Phillipines where we had a housekeeper and a cook....and my dad was just a C-130 nav!

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

I love these replies! And here is what I really love about it -- people are keeping this is a secret!!! I mean that really says something about our society, culturally. Not good or bad just as what we allow and what we don't. So interesting!

Bonnie Leigh said...

We do have a housekeeper, in the U.S., and I happily tell everyone who comes to our house and comments on it! After we had our son and I went back to work full time (my choice), this was my ultimate splurge as a working mom. Worth every penny, as we could enjoy a clean house without spending our evening and weekend time cleaning instead of having family time. I wish more people would do this and not feel guilty about it! Like you say, it is a choice about how you spend your money. I'm now working Parttime, and we still have our housekeeper. The extra time I have is spent on projects or with my son. I like to tidy, but I never do the deep cleaning. It's about how you choose to spend your time and money, and doing this helps to have a better quality of life. My husband is an attorney, so I sometimes get the same attitude as your being a 'doctor's wife'. But, he is a state employee, so while we are very comfortable and fortunate we are not 'rolling in it'. I wish more stay at home mms felt comfortable hiring help, because they definitely have the hardest job and deserve a break too! Spend nap time reading or sleeping or relaxing or doing something for you, instead of cleaning! (If you can).

Brenna said...

I've loved reading all the comments on this subject! I used to be of the "its wasteful not to clean your own house" school. Hard work never hurt anyone, right? Well, when I went to work in the Azores, my husband said he wanted to get me a house keeper. He wanted to spend time with me on the weekends, not watching me clean and feeling in my way because he can't figure out my system well enough to help. :)~ So I caved and we hired a house keeper. After one cleaning, I was hooked! It was so nice to come home to a clean, fresh home! I still did the dishes, laundry, sweeping of dog fur, kitchen clean up and bed making during the rest of the week. But not having to do the "deep cleaning" and spend time with my husband was heavenly! Not to mention our house keeper became a cherished friend of mine.
Now that we are back in the States and down to one income, we can't afford a house keeper. I miss that stress relief, especially now that I am a mom - a 24 hour job that can be very tiring. We plan to pay off debts, then begin adding these luxuries back to our life again. I no longer feel its being "weak" or "wasteful with money" to employ a house keeper. It's all about priorities!!!

Kiley said...

So I have to be honest here. I am a mom of 6. I run a daycare during the day and work outside he home roughly 30 hours a week. I homeschool my kids and I cleaning and maintain 4 acres of land. All with no help except my husband and I. Wh also works a 50+ hour woek week.

I really questioned if I should come on here and write this but I look at it not really "bragging" but feeling that taking care of my home. Family. And yes even the mundane chores is part of raising a family. I choose to have a large family. I choose to purchase a house with 4 acres. I choose to have a large house. So for me I feel it's my responsibility to take care of these things. I can't even fathom having a baby sitter or nanny come take care of my kids. We don't have family around so we make things woek by juggling all of the above. And it feels very good knowing that Imy husband and I are solely responsible for the health and education of our kids. The well being and upkeep of our house and maintaining the yard.

I won't lie. Some days I look around and feel so overwhelmed. I look at the pile of laundry and tell myself that I am just going to hire someone to come and help me once a week. And then I end up tackling it and once it's finished and put away. I feel very proud of the accomplishments I set forth and finish. Providing for my family in all the ways my husband and I created is important too me. My husband is Portuguese and it's very important too him that we maintain a lifestyle he grew up with. His mom was a full time working mom and took care of the house and her kids. The only difference between her and I was that she had family help with raising her kids were it's just me and my husband. It feels good that I have kept that important part of his raising in our household. It's important for me to have my kids see they they are being raised in a family that strives on "hard woek" and "doing things yourself"

I sometimes get jealous of those who do have nanny's or people who come and clean their house a few times a week. Thinking it would make my life so much easier. But then I feel guilty that I am having someone else do something they really is my responsibility and I let it go until the next big pile of laundry happens.

Please know this is just how I feel. I respect anyone who does things differently when it comes to how they get through. I always will be a little jealous.


Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Kiley, I think that your comment is completely appropriate and valid. What is a conversation without opposing viewpoints? I don't disagree with what you are saying, but I do think it really comes down to what we value.

For instance, I wouldn't think twice about paying someone to change my oil. I don't want/can't do it myself. To another person, that seems like a total waste of oil. The same could be said for people cooking for us or sewing our clothes etc.

I would never hire a nanny. I want to take care of the kids myself. But if I can give up a vacation a year and instead have 1 hour more a day WITH my kids, I value that. For you, you may enjoy the housework or feel great satisfaction IN it. And I think that is ONE HUNDRED percent okay. I don't. I would gladly give up a vacation a year for this "luxury."

Great points!

Kiley said...

We don't really give up anything. Which is good. Of course I would love someone to take care of "me" some days. But it's just not who I am. The guilt would be too much. And the looks and stares and words from family would be more hurtful then anything.

I change my oil in my car too. It's funny you say that. My dad is a contractor and mechanic. My sister and I were required to learn how to keep and maintain our cars in order to get our license. I don't do it much anymore because I have a van and it's a pain.

However we are doing renovations on our new house and can't even fathom hiring help. My dad instilled on me the "do it yourself first" mentality.

Which because of this, means I get the fun of shingling the roof in a few years. I may hire help to help me but I will cut costs by helping them.

I am the same person who has a baby and won't even let the people come and clean my room. I do it for them. And if they insist. I help them. I can't be waited on. 😄

Anonymous said...

Great post. My husband and I live in a small town in the midwest and have both a cleaning lady and a college kid who cuts our grass in the summer. They come every other week. They aren't very expensive and most people are very surprised at how affordable they both are. I should also add that I only work part time and we are by no means wealthy.

When we first decided to utilize these services it was hard for me as I am extremely cheap and I had long thought of cleaning as part of my SAHM duties. But now that we utilize both, I would never go back. Both my husband and I love the time it frees up for us to spend together as a family, especially since he travels a lot and works long hours.

I think my husband said it best. He said don't look at it as a luxury, but rather a splurge. Because no matter what your income, every single person has something that they splurge on within their budget. Whether it be getting their hair or nails done, shopping for trendy clothes, having a million cable channels, driving a brand new car, having a fancy phone, eating out frequently. Whatever it may be, it is something.

We choose to have a cleaning lady and someone cut our grass as our splurge and we cut corners in other areas of our budget because of this splurge. We drive old used cars, buy almost all of our kids clothes used, rarely eat out and don't have any cable channels. Anyways, just my two cents. Thanks for the conversation!

Anonymous said...

Here's what I think: it is a JOB. Like any other. There are people who do it well, like to do it, and /or feel they need to do it. I do not think of it otherwise. (Even though I must admit, I was not raised this way. This comes from life experience.)
I don't like to do it, nor do I feel 'the need' to do it. However, it needs to be done. Therefore, if I can afford it, I hire a professional.
(Like doing your taxes.)
Doing so, says nothing about your 'values', 'priorities' , or ''personal worth' as a responsible mother or wife.
(And I must add, I do my own taxes. I actually LIKE doing them. I know, it's crazy talk!!)
So whatever job you can and want to pay someone else to do, or what you want or have to do yourself, is up to you and your family. Could we live without it? Certainly. Do we HAVE to? It depends on you.
I could live without a lot of things. However, there are a few things I chose to live WITH. Housekeeping services are one of them.
(And of course, my cellphone. I don't know how you can live without those. How else would I comment on here?? ;)
Love and miss you friend!