Here are some ways I’ve discovered to thrive in small spaces with a romantic partner.
Growing up, my household was never the type that hired help for anything. I don't know whether it was a luxury only for the well-to-do or a perceived exhibition of laziness — it just wasn't a thing for our family.
I followed that trend as I moved out on my own. But as time went on, I began to wonder if sometimes needing help is OK.
I live in a small studio in one of those often-mocked gentrified corners of Brooklyn. My job as a freelance lifestyles writer mandates I receive a lot of packages — pair small-space living with lots of clutter (and frequent travel), and things get out of hand very quickly.
And so I went years without ever even imagining the concept of hiring someone to clean my home. Why would I? I live in a small space — who would spend the time to come and clean that? And who could afford that little luxury?
But then, as I used entire days I could have been working (and having billable hours), I realized I couldn't afford not to. What if it wasn't being lazy, but being efficient? What if by outsourcing, I was simply learning to manage my time more effectively?
Something about hiring cleaning help conjures visions of The Brady Bunch, where there's someone in your kitchen or your household every single day. The reality for most people is nothing like that. About a year ago, when I first decided to try hiring someone to help me clean sometimes, I decided to have someone come in one day a month, for about five hours. Five hours is long enough to give my kitchen and my bathroom a really good cleaning, and also tidy up the rest of my apartment — and the ultimate cost is about what someone may spend on a really nice dinner out.
With that monthly professional maintenance as an anchor, I discovered it's way easier to tidy up in between (or top clean, as I like to call it) — and I'm already wishing I had thought of it sooner. As Margarita, my awesome cleaning lady, works around my apartment, we chat about our families and what is going on in our lives — she's taught me about Mexican cooking, and I've taught her about daytime soap operas — and she has no qualms telling me when I've really let things get crazy with clutter the last few weeks. And, in fact, it was once so bad, she TOLD MY MOM. (My mom also hires her once or twice a month, for the same reason.)
She is also helping me save time. While she's cleaning out my freezer, I may write an entire article — meaning having someone clean for me is ultimately not wasting money I could be saving but, rather, freeing me to have the opportunity to do my job and earn my living.
But it's more than earned time and time value. Also, we need to know our strengths. Just as I am aware that a salon professional will blow out my hair way better than I ever could, I'm aware Margarita will clean my home a lot better than I will myself. There are certain abilities that come with time and experience.
Ultimately, though, the stigma associated with hiring someone to help you is just insane. If you can afford it, and they are providing a service that you need, why the heck not?
You are giving them a job, and they are making your life easier and your quality of living better. No one is giving me crap for knowing that sushi will come out better from an expert than from my kitchen, so why should we feel shame for knowing the same is true for making my bathtub sparkle?
Seriously, just do you. Everyone else can just go away.