Housekeeping services see rise in business

Monday, August 18, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:22 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In years past, mothers sought balance between going to work, raising children and taking care of household chores. With no superwoman in sight, many moms are opting to hire a housekeeper so they can spend more time with their children.

Recently, a poll conducted by Parents magazine found that 75 percent of working mothers feel guilty about how they handle their housework. But working mothers seem to be throwing the guilt aside and are hiring workers to take care of household chores such as laundry, dishes and mopping floors.

The August issue of Parents magazine featured Columbia as the second-cheapest place in the nation to hire a housecleaning service. The magazine found that California has the lowest price for cleaning at $15 an hour, whereas in Seattle, residents pay up to $20 an hour for the service. For about $16 an hour, Columbia families can hire a housecleaning service to help them take care of their dirty work. And for many working moms in Columbia, the service is well worth the price.

“Demands have increased — as families and kids are into more things, then so are the moms,” said Lera McDermott, master housekeeper and co-owner of Housekeeping Specialist. She has seen a growing trend among busy moms to hire a housekeeper to help them.

One Columbia-area mom, Gayla Miller, has little time to spare, as she has her plate full with a newborn baby and two other children. Not only is she nursing a newborn, she is also nursing her broken foot and is using crutches to get around.

Twice a week, Miller has a cleaning lady come in and help her with some light cleaning and laundry — for $12 an hour.

“Makes my life easier, relieves me of some of the duties and allows me to spend more time with my kids,” said Miller. “Instead of cleaning, we’re at the pool together. It’s a blessing.”

For working mom Lynne Cooper, cleaning does not fit on her list. In addition to working as an assistant professor of psychology at MU, she’s the mom of a 10- and 18-year old.

“There’s only so much of me to go around. I would rather spend time with my kids or doing my job-related tasks,” said Cooper.

For the past 10 years she has used a cleaning service to have more time with her children. She pays $70 a week to have her house cleaned by a crew of four or five people from Housekeeping Specialist. They come in and clean her house in little more than an hour, breaking down each cleaner’s pay to about $16 an hour.

“It’s one less thing I have to do,” Cooper said. “It gives (her family) more time to other more important things.”

Some psychologists believe that there has been an increased need for outside help to ensure time with family.

“An increase in housekeeping is certainly well warranted. Statistics are very, very clear that more and more households are dual income and mothers are working outside (the home),” said Laurie Mintz, assistant professor of education and counseling psychology.

Mintz has found that of the mothers who work outside the home, they also do the majority of childrearing and housekeeping.

Because most moms lack superhuman powers, hiring a cleaning service can allow them to not have to worry about the dirty work.

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