If you found yourself with some extra money in the budget for household help, which tasks would you hire out first? Babysitting? Yard care? Housekeeping? Perhaps something specific — like getting your gutters cleaned, or having your exterior windows washed (especially the ones that are upstairs and hard to reach)?

When we first moved to Oakland, we hired a housekeeper/assistant right away. She would come for 10-15 hours per week and would help with all sorts of things, like basic housekeeping, school pick up, or a grocery store run. She might also assist on a video shoot, or tackle a particular non-everyday task like making sure all the burned out lightbulbs in the house were replaced. When the weather was good, she would blow the leaves from our balconies and try to keep the exterior spider webs at bay (a constant battle at The Treehouse).

She was a hard worker and really wonderful. So I was sort of surprised that we didn’t replace her, when she moved on to a full-time job a couple of years ago. The memory is already fuzzy, but I imagine we were feeling on top of things, and glad to redirect the money we’d budgeted for a helper toward other savings goals. Plus, it’s always nice to have the house back to just our family for a bit.

Lately, I’ve been craving household help again. We’re decent at the basic upkeep, but after years of letting those once-in-awhile house projects pile up (like little repairs, and touching up paint), my list feels overwhelming.

I was thinking about this when I came upon a conversation with my friend Hailey that I’d shared in an old post. She wrote: 

“Drop off laundry is one of my favorite “digging out” techniques, and a favorite gift to give new mothers, especially of multiples. My solution is to take it to the laundromat one day and pick it up the next. FYI, I live in a small town and my laundromat charges $.95/lb., 10 lb minimum. In LA I found a service on line for $1.25/lb and it’s only $.70 in NYC for next day.

The mother of my good high school chum in San Francisco, sent her laundry out all the time. I remember thinking that was a good use of money and time. When I lived in NYC I did it often. Now, sadly, I only do it once in a while; I wish I could drop-off more often. I love it also because I don’t really know how to fold small pants so they stay folded. And then there is the dilemma of tons of sheets, especially the fitted ones. I can’t get how to fold fitted sheets! But they come back sweet smelling, folded, smooth and tight. Mmmmm.”

I find myself agreeing with her that giving a gift of drop-off laundry would make such a nice gift for new parents. But interestingly, hiring out the laundry is nowhere near the top of the list of things I would want to hire out for myself. For whatever reason, laundry just isn’t a task that stresses me out these days. In fact, even when we’ve had housekeeping help, I’ve never really handed over the laundry.

The only time I remember hiring it out was when we lived in Greece and I was expecting my first baby. We didn’t have a washer and dryer in our apartment or a car either. Hiring out laundry was so helpful! 

What about you? What would you hire out first if you could add some extra help to your house right now? And how do you feel about hiring out your laundry in particular? Does that sound appealing? Or is it too personal?