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Can We Afford a Professional Cleaning Service?

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Can We Afford a Professional Cleaning Service?

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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20 Comments

  • Reply AtlantaTJ |

    I love having a cleaning service and managed to keep our cleaners even when my husband was laid off (we both work). Though depending on how often you have them come I am not sure how helpful they’ll be with the daily chores that are backing up. The reason I say that is ours do not do laundry or dishes, and even if I had them come weekly I wouldn’t want a weeks worth of dishes sitting around for someone else to take care of it.

    Ours come every two weeks and do what I would consider bigger stuff – mopping floors, vacuuming (which we supplement in between b/c pets), cleaning toilets, sinks, showers, tubs, dusting all the things. Really things we would have let build up for weeks and then spend an entire weekend on. They would change our sheets but I opted out as for some reason that just makes me cringe.

    I have found that the best way for us to be on top of dishes, laundry and clutter is just constantly being on top of it. Everything goes in the dishwasher immediately and when it’s full we run it – or even close to full if we know a big meals worth of dishes is going to be waiting. Laundry we have multiple baskets and one is for things that are more delicate or annoying (like having to be separated out to hang to dry) and one is stuff that is just normal washer/dryer – so even though I am the laundry person, my husband can grab that basket if it is full and throw it in knowing I am not going to start shrieking about special things needing to be washed.

    I think continuing to work on a system that works for your family will be best even if it is painful getting there. And getting rid of clutter will really help with that.

    • Reply Jenny Smedra |

      These are really good points. We have adapted the chore chart and scheduled a specific time each week to make sure all the expected tasks get done. But I think you are right and it is going to take time and discipline to stay on top of things. I feel like our biggest problem is that there is just too much stuff and too many people in such a small space. Hopefully it will get easier as we begin to sell large items we don’t use and free up more storage.

  • Reply Cynthia |

    Jenny, I wanted to commend you for taking the feedback you’ve received to heart. In this post I think you’ve nailed the right blend of personal detail about your situation with general financial info that is relatable to your readers. Normally I skim your posts but this one kept me engaged from beginning to end. Keep up the good work!

    • Reply Jenny Smedra |

      Thank you so much Cynthia. This means a lot and gives me a better sense of where to focus in future articles.

    • Reply Katie |

      I want to echo this statement! Thank you for considering that feedback. This post is exactly the balance I was hoping to see!

      • Reply Jenny Smedra |

        That’s really encouraging to hear, and I will continue to respond and consider all your feedback in the future as well.

  • Reply AtlantaTJ |

    I have another suggestion seeing your comment about trying to sell big stuff. Granted, only you can weigh if something is worth the money and time to sell, but in my recent case, I found it best to just give things away and used our local Facebook Buy Nothing Group. It’s amazing what people will pick-up from you if it is free. We did a massive purge related to new flooring being put in (that came in earlier than expected) and pretty much had to move everything upstairs downstairs over a weekend, and then one night move it all back, plus moving downstairs stuff temporarily upstairs. The rush to organize and the hassle of moving things made me reconsider a lot of stuff. Tall fake tree my Mom gave me that was hard to dust and the cat wanted to eat it? Picked up by a neighbor. Desk I haven’t used in 20 years that was in a spare room? Picked up by a college kid. Chairs? Ugly lamp? Plastic storage containers? All picked up by people who were surprisingly excited to take our used stuff. A lot of this I would have just taken to Goodwill but it didn’t fit in our car, so having someone take it willingly was super exciting. A lot of the stuff we gave away was nice enough that I probably could have made 25-100 depending on the item and how long I waited, but my goal was getting it out so I didn’t have to move it around. I also decluttered a lot of clothing and love love love the extra space in the closet – I boxed up a bunch of stuff and mailed it to ThredUp (free with their label) as they then resell it. Again, nowhere near the kind of money you could get taking pictures and listing on ebay or Poshmark, etc. but my goal was less clutter and just getting things out of the house.

    Another thing I did at the same time I was moving our entire house around was really think about how to improve things at the same time. I’m working at home and constantly trip over my monitor cord the way things are set up, and there really isn’t another place to plug it in. I could probably pay for a new outlet in a different part of the wall, but the easier/cheaper solution was to order a longer monitor cord off Amazon and it’s been such a little, inexpensive change that makes things easier on me. I also just reorganized a bunch of drawers to make things make sense for our current life – I don’t need a prominent drawer dedicated to make-up I am not wearing, swapped it with the bathroom drawer below that did have things we needed and had to bend over for. Again tiny adjustment, but makes things easier.

    I do realize that not everyone can just afford to buy an extra cord or give something away vs sell and I don’t mean to be out of touch.

    • Reply Jenny Smedra |

      This is a really great suggestion and we have been taking things to donate. However, my dad wants to post things and try to get some money back on them first, so it slows down the entire decluttering process. There is definitely progress with each load we clear, but it can be difficult to be patient when I see so much that needs to be done.

      • Reply Kerry |

        Yeah, but if your dad is the one with the hoarders tendencies that is just a delaying tactic. You got to keep repeating “sunk cost fallacy!” “Life has changed, people have changed, our family’s needs have changed!” “If we give this to someone who needs it, the universe will give back!” “No theoretical assets, Dad! If no one wants it it has no value!”

        • Reply Jenny Smedra |

          I like it Kerry…and I have been taking a tougher stance on junk. I actually have another truck load ready to go this weekend!

  • Reply Hilary |

    I agree!!! I really enjoyed reading this post, and my heart breaks for you concerning the dishes in the sink and wet towels on the floor. I know how that is. Insert hearty LOL here as I add that I am divorced now and live on my own and never having a dish that isn’t yours in the sink or a wet towel spot from a casually tossed wet towel on the bed (somehow always on my side?) is a slice of heaven I don’t think I’ll ever trade! I think decluttering, having a “no dishes in the sink” rules as well as specific laundry rules should help. Any chance the nieces could get excited about cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming if they were paid for it? Just a thought. Good luck!!

    • Reply Jenny Smedra |

      Thanks Hilary! That wet spot on the floor or bed is always a nice surprise when you crawl into bed lol. I like the basic rules and we are discussing increasing privileges in exchange for more chores to motivate them.

  • Reply Nan |

    Hmm a family of 2 seniors, healthy 30 something and 2 teens- no, that $200 could be saved for the girls’ education. I might pay for a one time deep cleaning but then keep up with the day to day necessities. Who does the cooking and clean-up? Grocery shopping? Sounds like everyone needs to do their share.

    • Reply Jenny Smedra |

      This is exactly the debate I have with myself every day. My mom and I split the meal prep and cooking responsibilities. We are working to divide up the other chores by rooms currently. The last few week has gone more smoothly with everyone pitching in, but my fear is that we will end up right back where we started.

  • Reply Den |

    Have you checked with friends who use someone privately? It might be cheaper than a company?

    I think it will be well worth the money!

  • Reply Drmaddog |

    I agree with others — this was an interesting and engaging post!

    Historically have a terrible time keepings things clean and neat. Generally, I just haven’t cared. Over the past year I have downsized from a 2900 sq ft house to a 1100 sq ft apartment in conjunction with a move for a new job. Apartment living is so much better for me because I simply could not keep up with the cleaning and maintenance of such a large space. I have had to offload – so much – stuff. Not always easy, but the end results much less clutter and stuff for stuff’s sake. I am trying to develop better habits and everything having a place. It’s an uphill battle. My big wins are leaving my shoes neatly at the door and washing my dishes by hand as I use them. It seems that’s the only way I don’t end up with a pile in the sink. Being just myself, this is much easier than your situation. I honestly have no advice to offer, but wish you luck in figuring it out.

    • Reply Jenny Smedra |

      I do miss apartment living and having all my belongings able to fit into my backpack. Having a larger home is a LOT more work for sure. Building regular habits is important, now the challenge is to getting everyone else to do the same.

  • Reply Mrs. H |

    If anyone can justify hiring a cleaner, it’s you! However, you will need to be very careful and realistic with your expectations. A cleaner who comes once a week to vacuum, clean bathrooms and dust etc… is NOT going to reduce the amount of work needed on a daily basis to manage clutter and daily messes like dishes, towels and laundry, which sound like the bigger issue in your home right now. If you hire a cleaner, others in the household may take that as permission to relax their efforts, and you may end up doing even more on a daily basis.

    • Reply Jenny Smedra |

      Good point, it may be better to wait until better habits have been permanently set.

So, what do you think ?