Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Musings: Can You Afford a House Cleaner

Happy Monday, Goddesses!  Was that too cheerful for a Monday?  I apologize.  Let's try again:


Today I am telling you how and why I choose to afford a house cleaner.  Our family is not rich.  However, this extra is a non-negotiable for us right now.  So we make it work in our budget.

We have three kids.  They have their own extra activities on different schedules.  Mr. Perfect works quite a bit, and on nights and weekends.  I work full time outside of the home.  Our family time together is precious.  We both want to enjoy our time away from work focusing on quality time with each other (when possible), and our kids.  The cleaning service is something we use to manage our time wisely.

I do not struggle with feeling indulgent about having a cleaning service.  It is important for me to have a clean home.  It decreases anxiety and stress for me, which impacts the entire family.  This is basically a mental health benefit...should I see if my health insurance will cover it?!?

Can you cook?  Yes, of course.  Do you sometimes pay other people to cook for you?  Yes!  That's what a restaurant is.  Whatever the reason may be, many of us outsource our cooking to someone else.  Whether it's fast food, a sit down restaurant, or a meal prep service, we all outsource cooking at some point in our lives.  Does that mean you can't cook, never cook, or are spoiled or lazy?  Nope!  It just means you needed (or wanted) a little help that day.

I'm not spoiled, elitist, or lazy.  I. Just. Need. Help.  I admit that I cannot do it all.  I cannot raise my kids, work full time, AND clean my house.  I simply cannot handle it all!  I can't hire someone to work full time for me.  I can't afford to stay home full time and clean.  I have people helping me raise my kids, too!  My mother-in-law, and a wonderful child care person who I feel so blessed to have found.  It takes a village.  My house cleaners are a huge part of my village.  They allow me to walk into a clean home after a stressful day.  I am able to relax, breathe, smile, and happily focus on the needs of my husband and my children.

This does not mean that I never clean my house.  I do!  In between cleanings, there is still plenty of upkeep.  Heck, I can turn around for one second and my three year old can empty an toothpaste container onto the bathroom counter.  I am also able to focus on deep cleaning high traffic areas, or smaller decluttering and organizing details that I wouldn't be able to address otherwise.

This does not mean my children do not have cleaning chores.  Our oldest is responsible for the dishwasher, his room, pet chores, etc.  The younger two are responsible for their rooms and the play room.  And they witness us cleaning.  There is plenty of work ethic still being taught in our house.

So how do we afford it?  Well, we all spend money on first world luxuries, don't we?  Coffee, eating out, cable, smart phones, gym memberships, movies, books, football games, golf, girls night out, hair and nails, hobbies, those random items from Target or Amazon that we don't truly "need", clothing, vacations, nice cars, lawn service, etc.

I keep our budget very slim.  We don't have Netflix.  No gym membership.  We have no debt (if you have debt, I would strongly encourage  you to pay that off first).  We have one car payment.  I only buy Starbucks coffee when I have gift card money.  The rest is all part of a monthly budget.  I set aside a certain amount for grocery and household items, a certain amount for cable/internet/cell service, a certain amount for fuel, etc.  I buy the basic necessities (milk, eggs, fruits and veggies, etc.), and if there is anything leftover at the end of the month, THEN I buy extras (chips, cookies, extra clothing items).  We flat out do not go over our monthly budgeted amounts.

We don't have date nights.  Mainly because we don't have the time off together to be able to have them.  About once or twice a year we are able to go to dinner and a movie (which is part of our budget).  If you and your significant other have a monthly date night, that could easily add up to the amount of a cleaning service.  Perhaps your need is that you two connect on a regular basis.  That is certainly understandable, and important!

We take one family vacation per year.  How many family vacations do you take each year?  Including weekend trips to the beach or mountains, day trips to the city?  Those costs add up.  I know some families who go to Disneyland several times in one year!  That is an amazing experience for them, and if that is what is important to them, then it is wonderful that they are able to do that.  However, one family trip to Disneyland could potentially pay for a year of cleaning service.

Are each of your kids involved in two or three extra circular activities?  How much do those cost?  Could you cut back so that each child focuses on one thing?  The savings could add up to enough to be able to use a cleaning service.

I am not saying that any of these extras are better than another, or that anyone should modify their lifestyle to be more like mine.  Each family has different needs and priorities.  Just be aware of where your time and funds are going, and assess how each expense and activity impacts you and your family.

I can tell you right now that we will not always have a cleaning service.  When will this change?  When something in our life changes that allows us more free time.  When our younger girls are older and able to (properly) clean.  When they are not as high maintenance and I don't have to focus as much of my time on caring for their needs.  When a job schedule changes.  When finances change.  When something else becomes more important to our family.  It is not something that will always be.  But for now, it is a necessity, and I am thankful that we have found a way to make it work.

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