Monday, January 27, 2014

D is for Dusting and Domestic Work and those other things we Don't get to do...

... when we're running our own businesses. Look in South Africa we as business owners we are very spoiled. If business is doing well, we employ domestic workers (traditionally known as maids). Some people in other countries tell us this is a class thing, a way of keeping people down, etc, etc. Well, there are laws around it, and domestic work is a big form of employment of people who may not be employable in other ways. The unemployment situation here is dire, and by hiring domestic workers we are helping the situation. Anyway the fact of the matter is that many of us do have domestic workers and so for 11 months out of 12 we are sorted. The problem comes in in December when most domestic workers go back to the homelands, or on days where they may be sick or affected by problems out of their control such as strikes.

When I'm busy, I'm working 12 - 18 hour days, and house cleaning is the last thing I feel like doing. It's the last thing I feel like doing at any given day or time, but it has to be done. Nobody likes living in dirt. Come December time, and you're still busy at work, and the housework piles up and up, things can get interesting. Suddenly in addition to the 12 million things you've got to do, you've got to sweep, vacuum, dust, do dishes, clean bathrooms and kitchens. Now I've never tried the excuse, but I can't see my clients liking it if I say "I'm running late, the dishes are piled to the ceiling."



A friend of mine has hit on the best solution. She simply divvies up the chores between herself, her husband and her children, and everyone takes their turn. Sometimes I can get this right, and sometimes, my children are less cooperative than this.

As with everything though, the best way is to work out a schedule, which is what we've done. Sweeping and dusting on Mondays and Wednesdays, bathroom and toilet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, etc, etc. And if a client is coming, a quick frenzied blitz around the entire house. I'd appreciate comments on this and also to know how other countries manage.

Do you make use of cleaning services, or have a well ordered schedule for all year round?  Do things get chaotic at times? Here there are even employment agencies who specialise in domestic workers, so the laws and regulations around them are pretty strict though sadly they do at times get taken advantage of (not sure that's limited to the domestic work industry though). I knew someone who ran a cleaning service for a while in this country and though the idea was great, it didn't really work because of the fact that people simply  hire domestic workers directly. I'd be very keen to find out how it works in other countries, and maybe some of you may even get inspired reading this to start your own domestic cleaning services or something along those lines.

6 comments:

Damaria Senne said...

I considered hiring a temp for the month of December, someone who either lives locally or couldn't afford to go home for Christmas. But my nephew who is 29 turned out to be very helpful. He took his turn to clean,wash dishes, run errands and cook, and in the end, the two of us managed the house well enough. He even stepped up and helped me cook and bake food for the Christmas dinner, which was attended by almost 30 people.
As to the issue of having a domestic, I'm torn about it. I grew up with my family having one, and some of my relatives being one, so I can see it from boths sides. And if there was alternative employment/ways to make money, many domestic helpers would likely choose to do something else, except the ones who do like the work. But there isn't, and in SA, domestic employers are big employment sector for women.
I'm also torn by the laws. They prescribe the minimum wage and the range of hours employees are to work, which sorta gives a guideline for what the law considers reasonable. But, the highest salary range for domestics working fulltime in a city is not around half my monthly grocery bill and I grow most of our vegetables, herbs and slaughter our own chickens for meat. So I end up asking myself, how can they live with that? Yet the people who hire them are also not wealthy, they live on extremely tight budgets and quite frankly they could use the extra money they use to pay salaries to pay their own bills, but find that trying to live/work without help is also very stressful. It's a conundrum, for me.

Shawn said...

I had the same problem of the house being a terrible mess while I'm working. While having household help come in every day isn't something I can do. I do have a lady come in 2 hours a week to vacuum, clean the bathroom and work in the kitchen. It saves my sanity.

Jan said...

Yes, the housework is the last thing on my 'to-do' list as well. I haven't yet hired household help, but would love to in the future. I believe it helps the economy as these women (or maybe men too), are also running their own businesses.

Michelle Gibson said...

I'm lucky that I live with my mum at the moment, otherwise the house would be a total mess. Bless her she does look after me!

Damian said...

Wonderfully written! House work is the pits! Real talent shown by the author.

Milene said...

Funny to read this today of all days. This morning I got up very early and cleaned the whole apartment whereas my roommate that was supposed to help me was hiding the whole day in her room.

I also work about 12 hours a day and that 7 days a week at the moment. However I must say that it's quite relaxing to clean sometimes - no thoughts, just singing (or screaming) on the music and dancing with the broom. Yeah I quite like it... sometimes ;-) Nicely written!