A lot of people feel overwhelmed by how much they have to do on a daily basis. They end up not doing a lot of things well as a result. But they sometimes don’t realize that it is okay – and even appropriate – to hire people to help them out at home.
I work with a lot of people that have demanding jobs. They work from 8 am until 5.30 pm and then head home to start their second shift. Maybe they are raising children. Maybe they are managing a business area or have their own companies. Whatever the reason, they are constantly on the go and don’t get enough downtime.
When this happens, something has to give. Maybe their homes don’t get cleaned very well. They cut corners cooking meals. They don’t exercise. Their grass doesn’t get cut. Their snow doesn’t get shovelled. And they end up feeling bad about themselves because balls keep getting dropped.
It is usually out of desperation that people decide to hire help. Sometimes this comes in the form of a house cleaner because they can’t stay on top of the dustballs. Sometimes in the form of a yard maintenance company because their grass has become embarassing. Sometimes as a personal trainer that comes to their house because the pain in their lower back keeps them awake at night. Sometimes as a handiman that will clean their gutters because water cascades over the side of their house during a rain storm.
Here are my thoughts on the subject. When you can afford to hire help, and even sometimes when it will be a tight squeeze financially, hire help whenever you can when you’re overwhelmed.
Having someone clean your house isn’t a luxury when you’re busy. The guilt you feel about not having a clean house isn’t something you need to take on. Hire someone to clean the house so you can have company over for supper on Saturday night. If the cleaner doesn’t meet your personal standards, that’s okay. Lower your standards for a couple of years. You will be able to raise your standards again when you retire. More likely, however, you’ll have learned that having lower standards is okay and that you’d rather meet a friend for a coffee than have a sparkling clean bathroom sink.
Having someone clean your house so you can go outside and work in the flower garden may feel like an oxymoron. Really? Having someone work inside your house so that you can have a hobby growing ornamental plants in the backyard? Sure. Pursue a hobby that gives you pleasure and increases the quality of your life. Get dirt under your fingernails while someone cleans your toilets, especially if dirt under your fingernails will energize you and make you feel happy to head back to the office on Monday morning after a weekend away.
Hiring a personal trainer, or paying the membership fee to attend a gym where you can work-out during your lunch break, makes total sense, too. Lots of people think they can’t afford to spend money to get and remain fit, but I will argue that they are wrong. If you work out at lunch, you will return to your desk with a clearer mind. Perhaps surprisingly, you will be as efficient or even more efficient in the afternoon if you get a break during the day. Sneak out at 11 am if that works better for you. The time you invest three days a week will mean that you sleep better, and you may require less sleep over the course of the week so that you get the hours that you invest at the gym back again.
Hiring a handiman can be a Godsend, too. Having someone’s name in your cell phone that you can call on when problems arise around the house can take a lot of pressure off your shoulders when you notice that rain water is leaking into the shed. Same goes for having a good plumber when a hairball has built up in the shower drain. Sure, you could clear it yourself, but do you have the time to work on chores like that? Same goes for when you need to paint the bathroom but haven’t been able to get near the project for six months.
It’s not a question of being capable. One of things that people that carry a lot of responsibility have to come to terms with is that they can’t handle everything that falls on their plates. So go ahead. Hire help. Over time, you can build up a strong team of dependable people that you can call on when things go wrong.
I realize that Calgary is currently in a downturn and that a lot of people are losing their jobs. If you are one of the people that has been laid off, I suggest that you look closely at your finances and make decisions about what type of help around the house is necessary and where you can make a cut. I will suggest, above all else, that you not let go of your gym membership. You may decide to stop working with a personal trainer while you aren’t bringing a salary into the house, but don’t stop exercising, no matter what you do. Having a regular exercise routine, at a place where you can maintain your fitness, will be critical to your managing your stress.
If you haven’t lost your job, don’t let go of the people that help you stay on your feet like your house cleaner. You will be asked to do more at work, rather than less, as people around you are let go, and you will need to take better care of yourself now more than ever.
Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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