Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 9.21.23 AMExhausted, frazzled, irritable, chaotic and grumpy are common adjectives in my mom-world. Just ask my hubby. The usual case of super mom just not being able to be super is my daily struggle. Being at home all day, every day, as a stay at home mom of four young children, I strive to keep our work, school, play and sleep space organized. This is a standard that is nearly impossible, but somewhere in my OCD mind, an organized space has to be next to godliness!

I have no idea, really, where I get the need to crave organization. No mother figure in my life has seemed to set as high a priority as I do, on being organized. I remember everything was clean at my house and my grandparents’ homes when I was growing up, but the need for everything to have a particular space wasn’t obvious. Regardless, it calms me to know I can go to sleep at night and it’s all been picked up. I’m going to live with that for now.

I find that if my whole space is cluttered with “stuff,” so is my mind. I cannot function in the midst of things everywhere - coats, books, shoes, clothing, toys. So, while I have mastered (and engrained into the minds of my kids) the art of everything needing its own place, I have not mastered actual cleaning.

The endless cycle - my infinite, organizational obsession - does keep me removed from addressing those areas of the house that require consistent dusting, mopping, wiping down and scrubbing. Think ceiling fans, bathtubs, windowsills, dressers.

Because I refuse to give up the organization, I realized last fall that I needed help cleaning. I can store “stuff” like a fool and find a place for everything but I cannot keep the dust bunnies from reproducing like, well, bunnies.

I put an a APB on Facebook for a local house cleaner - someone not associated with a major cleaning company and someone who would use my cleaning solution (being a wanna-be green cleaner that I am). I found the best lady out there and she quickly became our favorite Monday morning visitor!

Wow! To be at home, spending three productive and educational hours with my kiddos, while my floor was being mopped, while the dust was being captured and while the windows and walls were being wiped down... I felt like I was beginning to conquer the world. My weeks were starting out with a clean slate - literally! The schoolwork was getting my full attention and the house was being cared for like it deserved.

Yes, my new best friend has become my housekeeper. Do I get eye rolls from my extended family? Of course. Do I feel guilty for spending money on a housekeeper while I’m at home all the time? Yeah. But, do I breathe a healthy sigh of relief while we’re eating lunch every Monday and my list of 50 things to clean today has just plummeted to 0? You know it!

Here are some tips on how to budget for a housekeeper: 

Look for someone who works solo and comes with a trusted recommendation. Ask around. Interview and talk to different ladies. Show them around your house and what things you need help with. (This was a big factor: admitting I needed help and letting someone else in on the secret. More on this below!) Ask them about their experience, their families, their times available. Check references if you need to.

Decide how much you are willing & able to spend. When hiring a housekeeper that works for herself rather than a larger company, you don’t have to deal with contracts and you can really customize what works for both parties. Think about what you need. You are paying for a service, after all, you should be able to decide how much and how often. Once a week can be hard on the paycheck, especially for single-income families. Once or twice a month is often enough to get the major cleaning accomplished and not break the bank account. And because there are no contracts, just be upfront and give your new best friend a heads up if you won’t be calling her back for awhile. For example, this winter, during my husband’s 3 week lay-off, we asked her not to come. But I was upfront with her during our interview, when she came to look at our house and offer me a quote. There weren’t any surprises except how much I would miss her help!

Purchase and have on hand safe, non-toxic, concentrated cleaners. I buy my cleaning solution through my company in bulk. It’s extremely concentrated, smells delicious, boosts our immune systems AND works on every surface from my wood floors to the windows. I keep a set of bottles downstairs and a set upstairs, along with a few rags that can be easily washed. Not only does purchasing my own cleaning solution save me money, it ensures that what is being used is safe and effective. I don’t have to worry about harmful commercial chemicals or suffocating fragrances.

Don’t let pride get in the way. This is perhaps the biggest issue I face with many decisions in my life. I am not the supermom that I wish I was. I run a small business, participate in continued education opportunities, and try to figure out how to homeschool and hang onto a roller-coaster marriage to boot. I also don’t let the theory that my kids should be doing more than they are blind side me. My kids keep their rooms picked up every day, do the laundry for me, set the tables, entertain and help with the younger children ALL DAY LONG. They are doing their fair share and I am so proud of them.

It’s okay by me if sometimes I count on my new best friend to help me.

Copyright 2013 Erin Giddens