My youngest was an infant when I first started working from home, and ever since then I have thought, “If only I had some time to myself, I’d get so much more done.” Recently, as we’ve decided to make my writing more of a priority, we also decided that this might mean making some investment in childcare. (They’ve interrupted me 20 times while I was writing this first paragraph to see if I was done writing yet, so there’s no doubt that childcare would help my train of thought to stay on track!)
However, I’ve begun to reconsider. While on a two month work trip with my husband, our housekeeping was taken care of. Even though we had virtually no childcare at all, not even occasional stays with family, I found I was able to be quite productive once we had established a routine. I began to wonder if perhaps my meager funds would be better used in hiring someone to help with housework after we returned home.
Cleaning vs. Childcare on a Small WAHM Budget
I have asked both professional acquaintances and personal friends which option they would choose in my situation. Childcare had always the obvious answer to me, so I was quite surprised when every single person said they would choose housecleaning! There were a variety of reasons for this–some moms had kids away in school all day, so they would really have both if they hired a cleaner. Some cited subsidized childcare as a reason that they would not need to divert funds that way. Some pointed out that kids can play by themselves, but houses can’t clean themselves. All good points. I would add that it’s easier to trust someone with my house than with my kids, though of course there are trustworthy sitters and centers available.
Despite this unanimity in favor of housecleaning, I did not get the impression that anyone actually had a hired cleaner, though several used childcare of some kind (some also planned to hire help in the future). Why not? Personally, I think that somewhere in the back of my head I think that people like me aren’t allowed to hire someone to help with housework, whether because that’s something only rich people do or because it would somehow be shirking my duty. These are both very silly ideas, aren’t they?
On a couple of occasions, I have hired someone to clean when I have been moving or taking a trip. In both cases, it happened that the people I hired were self-employed women. As a self-employed woman, I often seek out opportunities to support other women in business for themselves. Why would I feel anything but good about doing that when it comes to housework?
Where do you find someone to clean your house, and how much does it cost? I’m sure this varies widely by location; I live in rural New England, far from organized cleaning agencies. I have a few friends who do housecleaning, though, and they tell me they get most of their clients by word-of-mouth, so I guess the answer for someone in my situation would simply be “start asking around.” One of my friend charges $12 an hour and one charges $20-25, the price difference largely reflecting experience and professionalism, though I might hire either. Since I have a small house and once or twice a month would probably make a significant difference, this seems like a good investment to me.
Which would you find most helpful to your work life, child care or housecleaning?