Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Myths and realities of having a maid

I believe I've mentioned previously that we have a house...cleaner...guy. I still don't know what to call him. "Maid" seems out-of-date and feminine. "Housekeeper" seems to imply a live-in situation. "House cleaner guy" works just fine. He's a guy, and he cleans our house.

It's actually been three guys. The first one (Anbu) got married a few months ago and went back to India. His replacement had a full schedule already but took the job on a temporary basis. Now the replacement's replacement is in place. I will refer to them here as Anbu 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, because sometimes we do that and also for privacy's sake.

As far as quality of work goes, I think Anbu 3.0 has an edge on the others. Let me tell you why. Some months ago, there was a mosquito in the kitchen. As it rested on a cabinet, I killed it by smacking it with a magazine. And then I never cleaned up the remains. It just sat there, a mangled and flattened mosquito carcass stuck to the kitchen cabinet, for weeks and weeks. Almost every time I walked by it, I meant to grab a tissue and just dispose of it already. But every time I walked by it, I was on my way to do something else, so it slipped my mind, without fail.

The dead mosquito guts passed under the radar of both Anbu 1.0 and Anbu 2.0. But Anbu 3.0 came to our house once, for his first cleaning, and next thing I knew the mosquito mess was GONE. Like I said, I think he's a cut above the rest.

Now to dispel - or confirm, as the case may be - some myths about having a house cleaner guy.

Does this mean you never have to clean your house?
Nah. I still do all the daily maintenance stuff like wiping down counters and tables, general tidying up, washing dishes, etc. I usually end up vacuuming once, mid-week, to stave off my dirty floor irritation. I know, POOR ME.

Isn't it true, though, that you could do a better job just cleaning your own dang house yourself?
I used to think so, and this was my greatest obstacle when deciding whether or not to hire a house cleaner guy. Why should I pay someone to do something I can do - and possibly do better - myself? But I don't think so anymore. These guys clean my house deeper than I would, and they do it every week. And there are the little things, like how one afternoon I walked in and saw that Anbu 1.0 had arranged our couch pillows like so:

However, it is true that I could certainly clean the house faster. That's something you learn when you have to fit in your housecleaning among all your children-tending duties.

(In case you're curious, the reason we finally decided to go ahead and get a house cleaner guy was two-fold. First, my time is worth more than his, meaning I can earn back the money I pay him faster than he can earn it. Second, I spend more "fun time" with the girls this way.)

Do you clean your house before they come?
Kind of. I tidy it up to what I call "beauty base zero" after The Hunger Games. Surfaces cleared off, floors picked up, beds made, and dishes put away. But crumbs and dust and sand and spills are left as they are.

Isn't it awkward having a house cleaner guy in your house?
The answer to this is OH YEAH. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Do I have to look busy and frazzled the whole time so he knows he's an appreciated service? Can I kick back and read a book and pick up my feet when he needs to vacuum under them, like I've always dreamed of doing? What is the protocol here? Well, I've figured out it's easier (and more fun) if I take the girls out of the house. We usually end up going to the park or swimming.

Does your house cleaner guy snoop through your stuff and find out secrets about your family?
Uhhh, I don't think so. Not really. But sometimes privacy takes a hit. One time I went outside to take in the laundry after he left and saw that a bunch of my underwear had blown off the line and was strewn about. That was embarrassing. He cleans our toilets, so there is that. And I'm sure he figures some things out that are too TMI to share here.

Did I miss any of the questions you are dying to ask?


Brittany Cornett said...

no those questions summarized well. But I am jealous. One of my friends says she has someone come in for $100 every couple months to do some deep cleaning. Things you dont think of cleaning like air vents in the bathroom etc. I checked out a book from the library by Real Simple on Cleaning. I went through it and found out all these things I dont do that I should. so I made a killer checklist that is super long. Cost of having someone clean the house even for deep cleaning every couple months isnt worth it to me.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

For several years now we've had someone come in twice a month. I don't pay her to pick up after us; that is all done before she gets here. That way her time is spent on cleaning. I find it exhilarating to have the whole house clean on one day!

I never felt a helper was necessary until I was RS president, had teenagers, was volunteering more. But what put me over the edge was devoting so much time cleaning after my handicapped son. Something had to give.

Christi and Clifton said...

My sister has "Audra" or whatever her name is come once a week to mop, vacuum and dust her ridiculously large house, but she has to pick all the stuff off her floor or Audra will just vacuum around it. She has seven kids so I think Audra is well-deserved. My question is-if they pick up your things, does your cleaning guy ever put them where they don't go? I run into that when my mother-in-law helps me clean. That's a whole different story. :)

Liz Johnson said...

I really, really, really loved growing up with a maid. I'm not gonna lie. I was spoiled and it was awesome.

I'm glad that you get this. We always told ourselves we were helping out people by employing them, too... not sure if it's the same in the UAE, but it was good to give somebody a job.

So he comes once per week? Or more often?

Bridget said...

Every once in a while, something gets misplaced. I try not to let that situation come up, though, by tidying beforehand.

Liz, you are absolutely right. I didn't mention above that the wage for a house cleaner guy here is $4/hr. So then the question becomes not why, but why NOT?? And yes, he comes once a week.

I do sometimes worry that my girls won't learn to clean but like I said, I still do plenty of it.

Jessie said...

Maids here on Statia start at the same rate - $4 an hour - and I seriously considered having someone come in once a month or so (exactly like you said - for that price, WHY NOT?) Then I remembered that I have no kids and no job and absolutely NOTHING else to do, so that would be inexcusably lazy of me :/

Alli E. said...

My Bro. in Laws family lived in Saudi Arabia for awhile and they called thier "cleaner guy" their "Houseboy". It sounds very exotic.

Becky said...

Interesting to have you perspective on this. With the new baby coming we've thought about getting some temporary help for those first few postpartum months. I'll have to let you know if I think of questions, but I think you did a good job of addressing a lot!

Sherwood family said...

Amen about embarrassing personal situations. I came back from vacation to find my... lace things... folded neatly in a drawer. And my housekeeper made a comment about how she knew I wasn't pregnant because she saw feminine things in the trash. I keep telling myself that she has cleaned house for lots and lots of other people before me so it isn't like she hasn't seen this before. But, still she hasn't seen MY things before.

Matthew said...

Very well done post. Our experience has been similar. That being said, we have taken flack from family members who think we are making the wrong choice. Obviously, we are not persuaded =)

Ariana said...

Hey Bridget...you probably don't remember me. We were in the same seminary class at Westview for a year. I found your blog through Adria's and I drop in to read from time to time. Wow, your life is way more interesting than mine. lol Anyways, I read a thing on cnn about a film about sexual harassment in Egypt. I thought I remembered reading once on here that you had a boob grab. Anyways, looks like it should be interesting. Here's the link. http://www.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/Movies/04/06/Egypt.film.sexual.harassment/index.html?hpt=C2

Bridget said...

'Houseboy' makes me smile. What also makes me smile is that the Anbus always call us "sir" and "madam." I love it.

Ashley, I see you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about as far as privacy sometimes being compromised.

Matthew, I am surprised someone could work up the energy to disapprove of your personal housecleaning methods. I don't think anyone in my extended family cares but maybe they're being all judgmental behind my back?? :)


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