Hiring a Housekeeper

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Main Office

Bespoke Bureau
Blackwell House
Guildhall Yard
Near Bank
City of London
EC2V 5AE
England

Main phone: +44 (0) 2031670925
Main email: main@bespokebureau.com

Opening hours:
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My husband and I have been employing an independent housekeeper for about 10 years. The one who’s been working for us for almost five years, Anna is fantastic and we feel lucky to have her. We found her through www.bespokebureau.com Housecleaning is her full-time job. It took us some time to get over our self-imposed barrier of hiring some help with the house chores. I’m not lazy, and it struck me as a weak, self-indulgent thing to do. But, as my husband. freely admits, he’s a slob. We’d fight over the mess in the house, and time and time again would try to institute a “system” to keep it clean, only to fail once more and descend into arguments. With both of us working full-time, we wanted to spend our time at home in other ways than cleaning.

Still, I felt guilty for paying someone else to do work I didn’t want to do myself. I admit it: It feels weird to pay someone to clean your toilets! And I felt guilty for even being able to afford considering “outsourcing” the housework. After all, anyone can do housework, right?

The “housekeeper dilemma”
Over time, however, I’ve realized that my guilt is misplaced. (Although it still lingers a bit.) Why would I feel any guiltier paying someone for cleaning my house than cooking my food at a restaurant, or growing my food at a farmer’s market, or knitting a hat I buy at a cute store? I can cook; I can grow food; I can knit. But often I choose to pay someone else to do these tasks rather than do them myself. Why does the housekeeper, then, represent such obscene luxury in our debates on the complexities of social economics?

Primarily, I believe it’s because we see our housekeeper face-to-face. We invite her into our homes and our lives. We see the struggles in her life (she’s a divorced mom of two teenagers) in a way that is invisible for the many other jobs we outsource. The agricultural worker doesn’t deliver pears to my door, nor the factory worker bring inexpensive mass-produced products to personally stock the shelves in my pantry. I don’t directly pay the garbage-collector, the office custodian, or the guy who sweeps out the theater after my hubby spills all his candy on the floor. For these things, there’s an insulating layer of “a company” between the producer of the goods and the consumer. With housekeeping, no such dividing layer exists.

Professional housekeeping, like agricultural harvesting, child-care, and many service-industry jobs, is a job that is frequently performed by people without much higher education or unique skills. (Or they are choosing not to use that education or skills, or perhaps there is no market for their particular talents.)

I won’t pretend my housekeeper has such a “passion for cleaning houses” that it led her to this profession, but she’s a survivor, and has chosen housecleaning for many personal reasons, not the least of which are the flexibility in her schedule, the freedom to choose the clients she serves, and the chance to be her own boss. The trade-offs include a physically-demanding job, inconsistent income, and a relatively low salary (due to not working 40 hours a week, although at £12, her hourly wage is decent).

I think another part of the “housekeeper dilemma” is the historical disregard for the value of work that has been “women’s work”, and the expectation that if there is a woman is in the house, she shouldn’t need to pay another person (usually another woman) to do the tasks she is supposed to be doing herself. If someone is cleaning a house that’s not their own, they must feel degraded, right? But any work can be found degrading, sustaining, fulfilling or mind-numbing. I doubt that those of you who clean your own toilets feel degraded by the process.

What matters is not so much the type of work but the working conditions and the self-respect possible for the worker. Michele knows her work is valued in our home. The days I come home after Michele has been at my house are like a treat to me! And she knows it — because I tell her. I’d gladly give up other expenses before I cut Michele out of my budget. For her part, I’m pretty sure she values having us a steady clients who always have the check ready on the table and share the garden produce in the summer months.

Everyone outsources
The popular opinion is that anyone can do housework (so you shouldn’t outsource this labor), but does that mean that everyone has to? In my mind, the bottom line is that everyone outsources. Unless you grow, harvest, and process your own food, make your own clothes from fibers you’ve produced and spun, build your own house, create your own power sources, and are completely independent from the long chain of people in the manufacturing economy, you’re paying other people to do that which you do not want to do, don’t want to make time to do, or lack the skills to do. In the modern word, specialization is the norm.

So, do what work works for you — I’ll be in the garden.

What sorts of people hire a housekeeper?
Should people feel guilty about hiring a housekeeper?
No way! Why should they? I had a housekeeper for a while. I had so much going on that I didn’t have the time to clean like I wanted, and I could afford it then. I’d do it again if I could. But I guess some people do feel guilty — especially women. There’s this stigma: People think women should be able to do it all — raise the kids, go to work, clean the house — but they can’t. A housekeeper helps relieve some of that stress. So I guess women feel guilty because they feel like they’re not doing everything they should. But bachelors that hire me? They don’t have one ounce of guilt! I think once people get past the guilt, they love having a housekeeper. It’s just a matter of where your priorities are and what you can afford.

There’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to do a task for you. We hire financial advisors, don’t we? We hire tax accountants, don’t we? We hire someone to build our homes, don’t we? We hire someone to maintain our vehicles, don’t we?*When you can afford it* hiring someone to help you with the complexities of life, whether financial, mechanical, or otherwise, shouldn’t be a source of guilt.

And speaking to the “degrading work” issue, I make a very, very good income in my job as a corporate executive, but nothing is more degrading than having my inexperienced boss (hired because of family connections) second guess every single decision I make. Cleaning toilets would be mild in comparison.

I personally think this is fantastic! I would love to have a housekeeper.FINALLY, we have a housekeeper. This frees up some time in our life to get to some projects (like “must clean and reorganize the laundry room”) instead of just doing the chores (“must mop the floors, clean the toilets”). We never had energy left for the “projects” after we had worked on the chores.

I had a professional housekeeper a few years ago. When I was laid off I had to let her go. Now, I have outsourced the work to a teen in my church. It is an opportunity to discuss money matters with her such as tithing / giving, saving, and investing.

My wonderful mother paid for a housekeeper to come weekly when I was disabled. I had three children under 10 and had just had a horrible C-section with complications for both the baby and myself. The girl who came was wonderful! There was a tiny bit of “not the way I’d do it” to get over, but I was so grateful for the help that I got over it pretty quickly.

Now that the kids are (mostly) teens, I have lots of help. But I’ve written the cost of a housekeeper into my retirement plans!

We’ve been thinking of supplimenting our cleaning schedule with a housecleaner that comes in a few times a month. Just to make sure the best job is done as possible. You don’t have to hire a housecleaner for every day.Housecleaners appreciate the money because it puts food on their table. And if you’re busy like J.D. and his wife Kris, a housecleaner sounds like it’s a wonderful solution!

If you have the money and it improves your quality of life, then I would say jump on it! We are not to that point yet, but if my wife worked a full time job, the service a housekeeper could provide would be essential!

I had been wanting to hire a housekeeper for a long time. I love having a clean house as much as I hate cleaning it. But I lived alone and felt like I should just do it myself. But when my fiance moved in, it was a great excuse to do it. We don’t ever argue about chores. If his messes are around, I can just let it go since I know the house will be cleaned again in less than 2 weeks.
  1. We do pick up before she comes, but that’s b/c I want her to be able to spend her time actually cleaning, not putting away my stuff. And I don’t mind tidying up (in fact I kind of enjoy that), it’s the mopping the floor, cleaning the bathroom, etc that I hate.

    The joy of coming home from a long day at work and seeing the entire house clean at once and smelling the freshly cleaned house is easily worth every penny I pay her!

    I have had a housekeeper, I have been a housekeeper, and currently have no housekeeper…..I miss my housekeeper!

    We have a housekeeper as well and we love her. My husband and I both have full time jobs, he works 50+ hours a week. I also have a side job of tutoring on weekday nights. We found ourselves always cleaning house on the weekends and when we were busy or out of town things just did not get done. Our justification is that I would rather tutor for 3 hours on the weekdays to pay for the housekeeper than clean for 3 hours at the house on weekends. It is a win, win for us both. Now we have a clean house and our weekends back.

  2. PS…I never dreamed we would need a housekeeper for 2 adults with no kids, however I was listening to Suze Orman while cleaning the bathroom, thinking how much I hated this, when she approved someone with our income for a housekeeper. So I figured we could afford it too! Too funny, I am sure Suze would approved us as well.

    My husband and I have had a housekeeper for over 10 years. And I don’t feel guilty about it at all. I have my own business, my husband works long hours; plus, we both dedicate our free time to making art. Without our housekeeper, we would not have time for our passions. It’s the most important line-item on our budget.

    I worked for a cleaning co. for about a year after my employer moved out of the area. We were a 3 person crew: one would start dusting, next one followed them vaccuuming, 3rd would start on the bathrooms. When the duster finished they went to the kitchen and the other two also finished into the kitchen. We rotated the bathroom/dusting/vaccuuming jobs daily. The employer evaluated each house/business as to size/clutter/filth before giving a quote on cost. It was a good experience and I learned people that design/build/furnish houses haven’t cleaned them and clutter and animals are a large percentage of any problem with keeping a house clean.
    The one place I disliked the most was a mother with two toddlers that had moved from NYC recently. She watched us and allowed the children to get in our way. Our employer told us she indicated she wouldn’t trust us.
    I too, enjoyed working with plants more and quit to go to a greenhouse

    My wife and I have a housekeeper clean our 1 bedroom apartment. She comes every three months or so for the “heavy” cleaning. She only charges£60/visit, and I really don’t miss the money I pay her annually

     

     

    More info about Bespoke Bureau and the British Butler Academy:

    Based in the prestigious heart of London (Guildhall in the city) for the past 11 years and now a franchise, we pride ourselves to be considered “The World‘s and The UK’s Best Household Staffing Agency” amongst staff agencies Bespoke Bureau specialises in the recruitment of household staff internationally including House/Estate ManagersButlersHousekeepersChefsNannies, Gardeners etc for palaces, mansions, estates, prestigious houses and yachts all over the world. We provide high calibre staff – professional, multi-functional, discreet and flexible. Over the years we have built a strong relationship with domestic staff candidates and private NHW and other clients alike which has led to new opportunities that enable us to provide a more comprehensive service with our clients’ needs in mind.

    For assistance and advice on all the services we offer, please contact us and we will be delighted to help you. We are a leading domestic staff agency in London due to our dedication to providing our clients with dependable, thorough and professional household staff. We have built up an enviable reputation across London and can provide tailored household staff services to suit our clients’ private household staff requirements. We only hire experienced domestic staff who can deliver the high standards required from our private employers. Our household staff agency will undertake a rigorous domestic staff recruitment process, as we carefully check their household employment history and references, as well as interviewing each candidate at great length to ensure they have the right professional attitude and personality to work in the domestic staff service in the UK and overseas.

    All our domestic staff on our domestic agency’s database understand the importance of hard work and discretion, and are 100% committed to delivering an outstanding household work service on a daily basis. As a leading household staff agency, we will work alongside you to ensure that all your needs are met. We can provide an array of domestic staff to suit your household, including:

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    More info on: http://www.bespokebureau.com/ Many of our domestic staff employees can combine a number of the domestic staff roles upon request, but this will depend on the hours of employment required. As well as being a leading domestic agency in London, we can also provide domestic staff services across the UK and abroad/overseas. For more information on our household staff agency and candidates, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards, Sara Vestin Rahmani Director Bespoke Bureau, Peek-a-boo and Cupcakes Blackwell House | Guildhall Yard Bank | London | EC2V 5AE Bespoke: +44 (0) 2031670925 Peek-a-boo: +44 (0) 2031670926 www.bespokebureau.com www.peekaboochildcare.com Bespoke and Peekaboo in recent News: Our new Exciting Yacht academy (Reuters News release film) Russias main news station visits the residential Butler school The Bespoke Bureau Butler school Reuters visit (6 mins news) The Guardian does 5 pages on The Yacht Academy The world news org reports on Bespoke Butlers Time out Dubai interviews Vestin on Butler trends TVH11-The return of the Butler CNN reports on Bespoke Bureau-From Jeeves to Jiang Evening standard recommend Bespoke’s Butlers Arabian Business meets with Vestin at the Yacht Academy 6 page story on Bespoke Butlers in the Jazeera Magazine by Sakhr Al-Makhadhi The Global Post interviews Sara Vestin on Butlers Washington DC and Chinese CCTV’s Richard Bestik visits Peek-a-boo Great British post on Butlers in China with Bespoke Tokyo TV News on Bespoke Bureau Channel 4’s Brunch gets a visit from our Head Butler CBS This morning reports on Bespoke Bureau Paris Match Magazine speaks to Peek-a-boo Swedish Dagens industri and PS tells about our success Hotelier Middle East reports on Bespoke Bureau The times report on the Modern Butler Al Arabia News on our Nannies and Butlers Arabian Business News reports on our Mid East Demand Australia’s courier mail on Bespoke Bureau The Daily Telegraph in Australia on Sara Vestin and Bespoke  News.com in Australia reports on London’s Finest academy  Adelaide Now reports on Butler Trends Australian News talks to The bespoke Bureau Daily Mail reports on Bespoke Bureau Metro London on Bespoke Bureau Reuters TV pays a visit to our London Academy New York based Alex Burton talks to Sara Russian TVC news channel reports on the Butler School CCTV in China visits the school Spanish Elmundo reports on Bespoke The Economist Oct 2012 Sky news Oct 2012 Independent Oct 2012 Bloomberg TV Jan 2012 BBC Breakfast Mar 2012 Butler trends in China China’s demand from Bespoke Bureau British Butlers on the rise Sweden reports on their Native Sara and Bespoke Women’s everything interviews Sara on her businesses The Telegraph-Chinese  Nannies in the rise

     

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