I was at the birthday dinner for one of my friends earlier this month. It was a beautiful image: laughter, children, and sisterhood—all that good stuff we need to make it in this world.
I was having a good time.
A new mother and social worker sat across the table rocking her baby in her arms and shared, “ my low maintenance style of living is really becoming high maintenance.” She was referring to the time that she took to take care of her own locs, do her own laundry, work, and care for an infant as a single mother.
Knowing that I write about being fabulous and frugal, she said something along the lines, “I know that you probably think that my decision is NOT frugal.”
Little did she know that with a husband and without an infant, I have employed the services of a housekeeper and have done so without shame or a second thought.
I put a high premium on my quality of life which includes having time to build The Frugal Feminista, taking classes, spending time with my husband, and sleep. And I think, Mary, my friend with the baby has started to realize that, too. In exchange for money, she is buying back:
- Her peace of mind
- Quality time with her baby
- Quality time with herself
- Quality time with her friends
- Time to create lucrative side hustle opportunities and networking opportunities for herself and her growing family.
I grew up with a single mother-hustler-and-overall-shero who hated housework. While she made me do my chores, she pushed me to focus on my education more, so, as she used to put it, “ you could be in a position to pay someone an hour’s salary to clean your whole house.”
Typing it now, it may sound elitist, especially based on the history of black women and domestic work in this country, but it is reality that I have come to respect.
Sometimes professional women of color cringe at the thought of being in that position of power, not necessarily because they frown upon the employing someone to clean their homes, but because they abhor the history of financial exploitation and the sense of entitlement and superiority that came with those that employed black domestic workers. Those that employed OUR aunts, sisters, and mothers.
And they do not want to be associated with such people. They do not want to be one of them.
I think, though, if we respect and adequately compensate those that work in our homes, we can be confident that we are not one of them.
Long story short: If you feel that you need help, can afford it monetarily, or CAN’T NOT afford it emotionally, then don’t feel any kind of way about paying someone a fair salary to provide a needed service. Here are a few tips to get you mentally and financially prepped for bringing this type of support into your home:
Plan for it in your budget.
If getting a housekeeper is a bit of a stretch in your budget but you feel that you really need it, identify what you will forgo to ensure that you can pay for it. Could you brown bag it three times a week to save up for a cleaner home? Could you drop the shopping for a month or two so you can get all of those closets finally cleared out?
Clean before the housekeeper comes.
My mom was notorious and buck wild about this. She would tidy up before the cleaning lady came so she [the cleaning lady] wouldn’t think poorly of us. Well, I am making the same recommendation, but for a different reason. If you tackle some of the easier chores, you will be able to reduce the hours that you need to pay for cleaning.
Recommend the cleaning lady’s services to others.
By employing cleaning services, you are supporting small businesses grow. Spread the word and “pay it forward” so her pockets get fatter and her money grows.
BMWK Where are you on the “housekeeper vs. no housekeeper” debate? Have you thought about getting a housekeeper?