We all outsource—we send our kids to schools or daycares, our cars to the mechanic, our pets to the groomers and vets. No one blinks an eye at most of these habits, because we can see that having a professional help us is efficient and leads to a better end-product. Yet when a mom or wife hires a cleaner or a cook, we judge. I judged.
There was a time when whenever I heard someone mention having a house cleaner I had all I could do to keep my snarky “that must nice” comment in my head where it belonged. I thought cleaning ladies were a luxury reserved for the wealthy, or at a bare minimum only for two-income families. A house cleaner was a privilege.
Then I got pregnant via donor and could hardly stay awake long enough to drive myself home during my first trimester. There was no one to help with household chores besides my parents who were already doing too much for me, and if I did too much myself, I ended up at the OBs with bleeding and the panic that comes with fearing the worst. Suddenly hiring someone to help clean sounded a lot more like a necessity than a luxury. So I caved. I cut back on a few other expenses (who needs a landline anyway?) and hired one. Just temporarily to get me through my pregnancy.
Then it was just to get past healing from my c-section. Then through infancy and his reflux and weight gain issue days of little sleep and lots of crying (his and mine). Then it was…well then it just was.
At first, I felt guilty or lazy admitting to people that I paid another working mom to clean my house for me. I felt like it was a luxury I shouldn’t have as a single mother who frequently complained with friends about the crazy costs of raising a child. Surely if I was really worried about my budget, I shouldn’t have a house cleaner. Right?
Wrong. I wasn’t hiring someone to clean so I could have time to binge-watch tv or take a weekend nap—although, frankly, even if I was, that would also have been ok. I needed help, not just because I’m single, but because I am a mom, and moms juggle a million jobs. Or we attempt to. Usually, one of those balls gets dropped. And it might be cleaning the house or it might be one of a dozen other chores. Or it even might be taking time to play with our kid, or take a quiet minute for ourselves, or spending time with our partner.
I needed someone to take something off my plate. For me, coming home to a clean house is a source of relief and comfort. Hiring someone to help provide that for me, so that I can relax and focus on my family, my job, and my other chores after work instead, is not just a luxury, it is a true sanity saver. It is a tool in my self-care, anti-anxiety toolbox that I now have come to view as no different than getting a babysitter when I need a break or calling out when I don’t have the time or energy to cook.
I do understand that there are families that even after dropping other expenses and arranging their budgets still can’t afford this type of help, and I feel sorry about that, just as I feel sorry for families that can’t afford other items and assistance I can provide for myself and my son. But I no longer feel sorry or embarrassed for paying for the help I need. I’ve cleaned house of the guilt and am a happier, healthier mom, teacher, and woman because of it. And I absolutely could embrace my cleaner for all her help!