Open Thread: Keeping a Clean House

cleaning serviceWhat changes did you make to your cleaning routines after you had kids? Is a cleaning service essential to you as a working mother? The last time we talked about hiring a cleaning service on Corporette, I was struck by how many readers agreed that a cleaning service became a necessity after having kids, and the same was true for me, so I thought we’d discuss. I was particularly intrigued to hear moms of older kids (I think among comments here) talk about how having a daily housekeeper in the post-school hours really helped them bridge the “too old for a nanny, too young to be home alone” time period. (Pictured: Clean kitchen, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ben Sutherland.)

For my $.02.: Today is the most wonderful day of the fortnight: our beloved cleaning professional, Olga, is here at Casa Griffin. I was always highly (highly!) resistant to getting a professional to do our cleaning before we had kids, but it started to make more sense when Jack started crawling (and, um, throwing things like applesauce everywhere). It’s now become a non-negotiable for us, in that we will find room for it in our budget somewhere — I love the clean house, the sense of peace and calm that Olga leaves behind, and the fact that I can devote most of my time to either working or mom-ing.

We still do a lot of organizing before she comes to make sure that she can focus on cleaning, and she generally does the floors (mopping, vacuuming), the surfaces (dusting, washing), the mirrors, the bathrooms, as well as changing our sheets, washing our towels, and working on specific tasks like cleaning the walls or windows. We got her number after a friend of mine was waxing poetic about Olga and how wonderful she was. She had such a busy schedule that we had to wait a while to get on her roster, but we’ve never looked back.

How did you find your cleaning service (or person)? What do you ask him/her/them to do? How often do they come? What do you and your partner (and kids) do in the interim? Did you have a cleaning service before you had kids, and did you make any changes after becoming a mom?

“Family-Friendly” Jobs — What Are They, and What Questions to Ask to Find One

family-friendly jobsHere’s a fun question for the hive:  What do you consider a “family-friendly” job? Have you changed your career or job to seek one? What questions did you ask while interviewing — and which ones do you wish you’d asked? Do different perks and accommodations matter as your child moves through childhood — you need one set of things if you have small children, and another set of perks and allowances if you have older kids? I’m curious to hear what readers say.

For my own $.02, I went from a BigLaw job to a nonprofit with an 8-person staff, thinking it would be a family-friendly job. I wound up leaving after two years to focus on the blog, but part of me thinks I would have ended up leaving anyway because, looking back, I think the job would have been perfect for someone with older kids but not young ones. The staff was so small that not only were we not covered by FMLA, but it would have been difficult to imagine taking anything but a very basic and quick maternity leave of 6-8 weeks — there was no one else to give my work to! Furthermore, the 9-5 hours, which seemed so great compared to BigLaw, would have been difficult to manage with daycare drop-off and pickup, and last minute scrambles in the event of a sick kiddo would probably have grated on my boss’s nerves if they occurred too often. There was travel required for the job, as well… and at the end of the day the salary would not have been enough to sustain our lifestyle in NYC.

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Childcare Arrangements: Pros + Cons

childcare arrangementsWhat are the pros and cons of different types of childcare arrangements? How do you decide on whether to hire a nanny, choose daycare, ask for help from family members, etc.? We’ve talked about taking business trips as a mom, but we haven’t had a conversation about this yet. How did you decide what was best for your family? Or, if you’re pregnant, how are you evaluating the options for how your child will be cared for when you’re working? Let me start by saying: Whatever you end up doing is the right choice. Truly, there are pros and cons to everything, so try not to listen to people (online or otherwise) who feel super strongly about the issue. Here are some key differences among childcare options that I’ve noticed:

Nanny

The Pros: Your child gets individualized attention, in your home; you can be very specific about what you want re diet, activities, feeding, and more. You can negotiate for housekeeping and cooking as well.

The Cons: Hiring a nanny is expensive. Interviewing and payment can be a headache (especially if you are trying to figure out the “nanny tax”). If the nanny gets sick or is unreliable, you’re SOL. Even if you are specific with your guidelines, there’s no guarantee the nanny is doing what you ask (e.g., serving carrots instead of cookies, limiting TV time, etc.). By the time your kid is 3 or 4 you’ll probably want to pay for preschool on top of nanny services for socialization/school readiness.

Nanny share: This setup has many of the same pros and cons as above, but with added pro of socialization and added con of finding a suitable family and dealing with tricky conversations such as the extent to which they’ve baby proofed their home.

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