I had an epiphany. Why pay people to clean my house?
We started with our cleaning service when we were both working, before we had kids. At that time, it was nice to have somebody else take care of the dusting, clean out the fridge, and of course, the bathrooms.
Then we moved into a house. More dusting, one more bathroom. So on and so forth.
I am spoiled enough to get a sitter during the day for 4 hours every 2 weeks. That costs $10/hr. I figured that, as unattractive as cleaning the house sounds, I could do it as well as the service in about the same amount of time, maybe a bit more. With a sitter every week we would still save $80 per month. Win, win!
The service did a good job of cleaning. I mean, they're a cleaning service. It's not rocket science. Inevitably, though, I would spend a good twenty to thirty minutes fixing things they misplaced, like pots and pans, toys, or pictures on shelves.
So I did it - cancelled the service and set out to do it myself. What happened the first time I had a sitter and was all set to go to town on the house? My sis-in-law got sick, so I spent 90 minutes shopping for and dropping off sick supplies. You know what happened - the house did not get cleaned. I got a couple of bathrooms done, but nothing what I'd envisioned.
Then I realized that I didn't necessarily have to clean the whole house in one shot. I created a schedule where Monday I did the basement, Wednesday the second floor, and Fridays the main floor, including the kitchen. I did that for a week, but the amount of time was uneven. Doing the main floor included the kitchen, the most time consuming place in the house. So then I decided that I would do the bathrooms one day, the vacuuming one day and the kitchen one day. That has worked out the best.
The pluses: unexpectedly, the house is staying cleaner on a regular basis. Perhaps it is the knowledge of what it takes to get it done, but I think it's the knowledge that nobody else is coming to do it. Also, I am throwing more things away, reducing clutter.
The minuses: I have to clean my house. It sucks. I've never been a neat and consistently organized person. My said that I used to leave a trail of toys all over the house, never cleaning up as I went. Doing this has challenged my ability to change who I am as a person. I have to schedule the time and make it happen.
And that's where I am right now. I'm learning to be something different. It has brought added stress and an added sense of accomplishment. It's probably good for the kids, too. Heaven knows they'll be taking on these chores as soon as possible! That's a few years down the road, when I've got the system perfected.