Donna, a Co-Founder and VP of Operations here at Care.com, is in her third trimester and just went on maternity leave. She told me the other day that she's looking for help a few times each week with dishes, laundry, cooking, and household management throughout the rest of her pregnancy and after her new baby arrives. She posted a job on Care.com and is already interviewing some folks from our housekeeping and Care Gigs services.
Donna's not alone in needing a hand around the house. Quite a few of my friends and relatives are about to have babies, too. We looked into the Census stats and saw that the birth rate spikes from January through April, so that's not a surprise. If you're looking for help in the home, check out these tips that Donna put together for us. Here's what you need to know before you hire a housekeeper and what questions you should ask when you do.
Decide if a housekeeper is right for you
Does clutter pile up because you're too busy to organize? Are you lagging behind on basic errands? Can you write your name in the dust on your bookshelves? Has takeout become part of the routine because you're too busy to cook? A housekeeper can help you keep things together around the home.
There are plenty of reasons to hire a housekeeper. The one you really need to figure out, though, is NEED. Do you need a housekeeper? For my family, I definitely need one now—there are some things I can't do with a baby on the way. But different families have different needs. Some people need extra room in their schedule because their work life keeps them busy. Others want to spend more time with their family and less time scrubbing. Figure out what your specific need is—if it's big enough to look for outside help, it's time to hire a housekeeper.
Know how much to pay
Trying to figure out the going rate for housekeepers is confusing if you've never hired one before, so be sure to shop around before you hire. There are plenty of housekeeping companies out there. It's sometimes easier to go with them, but their rates tend to be higher than going with a self-employed housekeeper.
Check out caregivers in the housekeeping section on Care.com. You'll see that each one lists their rate on their profile. Search through a few in your area and you'll have a good idea what you should pay.
Decide what you want done
Are you looking for someone to clean up from time to time or do you want to hire someone to literally keep house on a daily basis?
Before you interview housekeepers, make sure you know what kind of job you're hiring them for. They'll appreciate the foresight and you won't end up paying for more work than you'd planned.
When you find the person that's right for your family, write down their job description before they start working. In my case, I'm looking for someone to do the dishes and light house cleaning, prepare meals for my family, run errands, and keep track of a weekly budget. I want to make sure they know all of their requirements beforehand so there aren't any surprises a month into the job.
A list of questions for the interview
When you get to the interview stage, here are a few questions you should ask:
- How do they determine their pay rate (by hour or day)?
- How much do they charge?
- Do they have their own cleaning supplies or will they use yours? (If you have a preference on cleaning products, you should supply them).
- When are they available to work?
- Do they have restrictions on what type of work they'll do?
- Are they insured? (If they are, they may charge a higher rate to cover their costs.)
- Can you contact other clients for a reference?
- Consider running a background check. If they're going to be managing any household finances, you'll want to know their history.
If you end up talking to more than one housekeeper, send an email to the ones you don't hire. Although they might be disappointed, they'll appreciate the courtesy. You never know when you might need their services in the future.
When you do make a hire, you might want to try out your housekeeper on a trial basis, at first. I want mine to be a good fit, not only for the job, but also for my entire family since we'll be interacting with each other on a daily basis.
Good luck with your search for a housekeeper! We hope whoever you hire will make your life easier and leave your home sparkling.