Tag Archives: cleaning help

168 Hours…Who Are The “Rest of Us”?

Before I go into time management advice for “the rest of us“, I thought I should define this group.  The rest of us are not the 1%, which I would define as those in highly successful households with six-figure salaries. These same folks are often profiled in work/life balance articles.

Consider the “typical” work/life profile on Yolanda Edwards, Executive Editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine, and Emily Kalanithi, an attorney.  (This is a great series from the blog “A Cup Of Jo” which I’m not singling out as criticism, just that these “types” of women are often the same ones profiles in Working Women-type magazine, i.e. women who “have it all”):

Yolanda Edwards:

  1. Work schedule: I work five days a week at Martha Stewart Living from 9:30 to 6 or 6:30. I work on Momfilter from about 6:10 to 7am, which is when Clara wakes up; and I work on it at night, but not more than a half hour, because I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, so I’m a little too sloppy. I usually get a chunk of work done on Momfilter on weekends. And I try to do a post on my travel blog around once a week.
  2. Childcare: We have a great babysitter who comes three days a week and picks her up. On the fourth day she has after-school activities, and on the fifth day, her dad gets her. I try to pick her up at least one Friday a month”

Emily Kalanithi:

  1. Work schedule:  I work in the office full-time, Monday through Friday. My actual hours in the office are pretty reasonable—9-6ish. But I frequently check in on email at night and on weekends during naps and after bedtime.
  2. Childcare: We have an amazing nanny who comes to our house five days a week. Our nanny feeds Eve at an astoundingly early hour (4:30 or 5). After I come home from work around 6, I play with Eve until she goes to bed at 7:30. Then, if Jeevan is home, I’ll cook an easy dinner (maybe 3-4 nights a week). Or we’ll order Chinese or Thai or Indian.
  3. Balance:  My husband has a very busy job as well…When we’re too busy or tired for real date nights with a sitter, we have devised something called “internal date nights” where we put the baby to bed and have a date at home. Even if it’s just ordering food and watching a movie, it at least means we’ve set aside the time to be together without email-checking and other distractions.

The above are just snippets and I encourage you to read the series of posts.  Getting glimpses into the lives of very successful/elite made me realize that there is an entirely different world out there and that if you’re not in the top 1% or even top 15% in terms of income, your choices are so very different. 

Our vision of balance is very different.  People in power and/or who love their jobs really don’t want a break from their work.  They call it a balance if they get home at a reasonable hour, put the kids to bed, and have another hour or so doing work-related things.  For the rest of us, the 40 hour work week is just fine.  That’s not to say that in a recession and stagnant hiring practices, we’re not over-worked as well.  It’s just that we’re not expected to be “on call” or resent being on call since that seems above the scope of our responsiblities and pay scale.

They can buy flexibility.  When you read the typical work/balance article, there is much reliance on paid help from cleaning to nannies to personal assistants.  These are luxuries that are out-of-reach for most people.  I call this buying time because you make enough to outsource many chores and afford a nanny, which offers more flexibility than daycare since there aren’ts pick-up or drop-off times.  Secondly, those in power have  the ability to set their hours. This depends on company culture, of course, and if the person wants to do this.  Some hard-charging personalities probably prefer to work 60 hours per week.    Still, I do believe that if an executive needs to work from home for some reason, few people would question it.  If you’re lower on the totem pole, however, it’s harder to justify working from home.  This is based on observations and my personal experience, but the only time I can work from home is if I put in my regular hours and then work from home on a special project.  There’s no way my boss, or most bosses, would let me leave earlier with the promise that I’ll finish up in the evenings. 

Part 3 of this series will address the challenges facing those of us who cannot afford to buy help/flexibility.  I’ve written many posts with tips for simple living that could be applicable but I also want to delve into bigger issues regarding work/career and family.  I know I have my notes somewhere…

How do you envision balance?  What are your biggest challenges? How does paid help factor into your balance, if any? 

Also, check out author Laura Vanderkam’s blog…her book “168 Hours” inspired this series.

Clean For A Day

Sometimes I wonder if paying for cleaning help is worth it. We can only afford someone every other week.  That allows us to skip on bigger hated chores like mopping floors, scrubbing the tub, and deep cleaning the kitchen.  However, it doesn’t allow us to avoid the many oh-so-fun daily and weekly chores like vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the toilet, laundry etc.. The worse part is that the after glow wears off so quickly. After the cleaning lady leaves, I can even go barefoot on the spotless kitchen floor and not worry about stepping on suspicious-looking sticky spots.  I can see the bottom of a shining white sink.  Even though I don’t strive for Martha Stewart perfection, I admit that I love a clean house (or more truthfully, a clean kitchen and bathroom!)  The problem is that this clean state lasts all of one day, if we’re lucky!  It takes the kids less than 10 minutes to dirty up the kitchen or put us in such a harried state that we start leaving stuff in the sink.  When all is said and done, we rarely enjoy the clean space for more than a day!

To answer my own question, I do think it is well worth it for us, even on our tight budget. While the cleaning lady was working, I had some leisure time to enjoy being home with the kids. The youngest was very wary of a stranger in the house and clung to my every step for the first hour.  I sat and play with them for most of the 2 hours; or watched them play together.  Afterwards, I had the extra energy to tackle some additional chores like ironing, changing bed sheets and cooking lunch for Monday.  It was nice.

December 7: Hire Cleaning Help

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life.

As a working mom, it’s a no-brainer  to pay for cleaning.  I don’t want to spend my weekends cleaning. My husband doesn’t like it.  And even with cleaning help, it seems like there’s still a lot left to do around the house!

For me, getting cleaning help is saving my sanity and allows me to spend more time with my kids.  I will cut out almost every other luxury before cutting this out.  I’ll clip coupons, mail in rebates, go generic, etc..

I do realize that being able to afford cleaning help is a privilege and I truly appreciate that fact.  While it’s not a daily thing and we still have errands/chores, it’s nice to come home to a cleaner house and a made bed every once in a while!

Even if I were a stay-at-home mom, I would try to pay for some cleaning help on a monthly basis just to help with some deep cleaning and/or as an occasional treat to myself.   I would be the easiest person to shop for. What do you want for your birthday? Cleaning service. What do you want for Christmas? Cleaning service. Anniversary? Mother’s Day. You get the idea.  

Do you pay for cleaning? Is it worth every dime? Are you one of those crazy people who enjoy cleaning?  Do you clean more often than your spouse?