by Jenny Smedra
About nine months ago I moved home to offer my parents support as they begin dealing with declining health and raising my nieces. Although I love being part of a big family, some days it seems like my world has been flipped upside down. I feel like I have adjusted well to my new career and familial responsibilities. But, I never imagined just how demanding it is to manage the schedules and responsibilities of an entire household. In addition to the weekly doctor’s appointments, tutoring sessions, transportation, and meal prep, it seems like there is an endless list of housework that never gets done. Don’t get me wrong, I have always maintained a clean home without a professional cleaning service, but cleaning up after yourself is completely different than for the whole family.
Although I knew my life would drastically change, I never expected to spend half my day cleaning. It seems that no matter how many dishes I wash or loads of laundry I finish, there is always more waiting. And I have to be honest, most days I feel like I’m drowning. Even as I check off the chore list, I never seem to get ahead and am still completely exhausted at the end of the day. Every bowl left in the sink and every wet towel left on the floor makes me want to quit trying. That is why I have been seriously considering if we have room in our budget to hire some outside help.
Delegating Cleaning Responsibilities
After shouldering most of the cleaning duties, I had had enough and wanted some accountability. In my mind, the obvious questions were 1) who is making the mess? and 2) how is everyone else contributing? When I asked everyone what they do to help out each week, my parents were quick to point fingers at the kids. However, my nieces were the ones constantly picking up and doing the small daily tasks.
Since no one wanted to take the blame, we decided to start with a clean slate. So, we created a chore chart and delegated jobs to each member of the family who was physically able to help. My parents, nieces, and I heartily agreed to our chosen responsibilities, and I slept soundly thinking we had solved the problem.
As you probably guessed, the chore chart worked for about a week. Then, the piles of dirty clothes and dishes began to appear once again. Fed up with playing maid, I stopped cleaning completely to get my answers. The truth was much more complicated than I had expected.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Cleaning has always been a source of conflict in our family, ever since I was a kid. My dad expected the house to be clean at all times. Meanwhile, my mom applied the same standards at home as she did with her cleaning business. While my brothers and I did our best to keep everything picked up, it still caused arguments at least once a week. Now that I am an adult, I see the cycle continuing with my nieces.
As I watched the household dynamics, I began noticing patterns that undermined the ideal home my parents wanted to maintain. Although the light cleaning was done regularly, it was an uphill battle trying to contain the mountains of clutter from my dad’s projects that occupy every shelf and closet. His hoarding tendencies were counterproductive, making it impossible to keep things tidy for very long. Moreover, it was difficult for him to understand that he had unrealistic expectations if he continued to fill all the storage spaces with junk.
In response to my dad’s desire for a clean home, my mom was constantly shoving things into drawers to clear counter space and give the appearance that everything was spotless. Not only did this cause many things to go missing, but it created even bigger messes in more compact areas. Furthermore, my nieces and I were becoming deeply resentful because here we were doing our share of the cleaning, yet still being blamed for all the messes.
Once I was able to identify the problem, I had the much more difficult task of getting my dad to de-clutter and deal with the resentment from unequal distribution of household chores. Slowly but surely, we are making headway as we sort through years of clutter and unspoken anger. However, it still does not detract from the housework that needs to be done.
Weighing the Benefits of a Professional Cleaning Service
Since the adults share the financial responsibilities, we have all agreed to discuss additional budgetary expenses before taking on any more burdens. As I am writing this, I am also preparing my argument for why my family should hire a cleaning service. I think the greatest benefit of hiring a professional is that it prevents added stress and conflict. With so many personalities under one roof, anything that can decrease tension or reduce friction is welcome.
For me, the immediate value is saving time from doing daily chores so I can focus on other priorities. If I can free up more time, then I will be able to do the heavy lifting and deep cleaning that has been ignored for the last 20 years. It also makes the decluttering process easier to manage if I don’t have to juggle daily cleaning tasks as well. In my opinion, reclaiming my freedom by eliminating time-consuming tasks makes it worth the cost.
The Cost of a Cleaning Service
After doing a little research, I discovered the average cost for a professional cleaning service in the Omaha area is about $168 per month. However, the total price could range from $116 to $235. The estimates depend on a few factors such as location, the size of your home, and the types of chores. This price quote reflected light cleaning duties such as vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, dusting, and general tidying up. Anything beyond this is considered ‘deep cleaning’ and will cost extra.
As I spoke with more companies, I also learned that each business quotes their pricing differently. Some base their rates off the square footage of your home, the number of bedrooms, or even the number of bathrooms. Others charge hourly or flat rates for their services. I received three separate quotes for standard cleaning services, all of which were on the higher end of the scale. For our home, local services would charge about $200 a month while independent contractors were about $150.
Although I see the benefits of hiring a professional cleaning service, it will be difficult to convince the other adults that it is a necessary expense. In the worst case scenario, I will be the one to cover the cost. However, I feel it is an expense that is well justified. It will alleviate a lot of the pressure placed on me and the rest of the household. That kind of pressure produces a huge mental strain. And let’s face it, you can’t put a price on mental health.
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