Hairdresser, cook or cleaner?

A smiley banana

I was struggling to get to sleep last night so I passed the time by pondering a very deep question:

If given the choice of a weekly visit from a hairdresser, cook or cleaner, which would I take?

Sleep grew even more elusive as I got carried away with the terms and conditions of this fantasy scenario (kind of like when you imagine what you’d do if you won the lottery. How to keep it private, how much is too much, how far out on the family tree do you go paying off mortgages, which charities would you donate to, would you buy a sports team… to the point where you decide being a pretend millionaire is too hard, just forget it.).

I settled on these criteria:

  • Cook – they’d come round and prepare dinners and lunches for a whole week for the entire household. As wholesome or decadent as you please. They’d put stuff in the fridge and freezer so you’d only need to reheat or assemble.
  • Cleaner – weekly clean of the entire house. Proper deep clean when needed. Laundry washed, ironed and put away. The oven and shower would SPARKLE.
  • Hairdresser – I decided the equivalent of the above would be TWO visits a week because even with a whole can of dry shampoo I can’t make a blow dry last all week even if I just sat very still and didn’t leave the house. Cuts, colour or fancy do’s as required.

The cases for and against:

  • Cook
    Pros – Meal planning and preparation takes up way too much of my brain space. Imagine not having to think about that, ever? I’d have more time to do my own freaking hair.
    Cons – House is a mess.
  • Hairdresser
    Pros – A good blow dry can make one feel bloody invincible. Have good hair, will kick arse. It puts a spring in my step. Anyone else feel that way?
    Cons – Wouldn’t ever want to cook or clean as it might muck up the hair.
  • Cleaner
    Pros – A super clean and shiny house is so gloriously calming.
    Cons – What’s for dinner?

At some point I finally fell asleep and don’t remember what I decided, but I do remember dreaming I got sent to prison.

I think my subconscious must still be pining for Natalie. Back in May I hired her to clean our bathroom and kitchen, just a one-off. Things were looking grotty after a few weeks of me being temporarily an arm down (post-melanoma surgery), and Gareth working insane hours (he is the far superior cleaner, by the way).

So I wanted to hit the reset button. Since The Mothership had started me on cleaning duties when I was about seven years old, getting someone else involved felt like such a decadent, rebellious thing to do.

The awesome Natalie showed up on her scooter, a satchel of products slung over her shoulder. Over the next three hours she totally transformed the two rooms. I didn’t think we were remotely filthy, but I never knew a room could be so freaking CLEAN. The stovetop gleamed, the rug was reborn, the bathtub was blindingly white, and she even carefully arranged the bananas into a smile on the fruit platter. It was miraculous!

My crafty plan was to not say anything to Gareth, and if he noticed I’d pretend I’d single-handedly scrubbed away. There’s no way it would even cross his mind that I’d get a cleaner; he has the same guilt thing going on as me.

He was suspicious as soon as he walked through the door. “What’s going on?”

“What do you mean?”

“Something’s… different.”

“It is?”

“Those tiles. They’re very shiny. Why are those boxes all stacked up so neatly?”

“Oh you know…. I moved some things.”

“That’s not like you? What are you up to? ”

He walked from the kitchen to the bathroom and back again.

“This is not your work!”


Months later we still talk about what Natalie did with the bananas.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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40 thoughts on “Hairdresser, cook or cleaner?

  1. I’d go with cook assuming the meals were both amazingly delicious and healthy (the holy grail!). I actually have a maid service that comes every other week — when I first moved to NYC, I tried it every week but as one person with no pets, I just don’t get things very dirty ever. The hairdresser doesn’t appeal to me b/c even though mine cuts hair well, she doesn’t style it very well. It always looks better once I wash it and re-do it.

    I also used to work with a rich lawyer who had a private chef come on Sunday and make him meals for the entire week, then make a checklist for the fridge listing each one that he could cross off as he ate them. So, he always knew what his options were, and they were all his favorite meals. I consider that a special sort of heaven.

  2. Wow, you’ve really thought out your lottery winning plans. Mine only go as far as “buy mom a house” and “quit my job.” The second one is kinda funny since I’m self-employed, so it would mostly involve me telling my clients to find someone else to do their work. None of which will ever happen because I don’t play the lottery.

  3. Oh that is so easy for me – I love to cook but want someone to clean up after me, am just totally off hairdressers (I let Sylvia do it these days which is much more fun though probably doesn’t result in feeling like I can take on the world) but I hate cleaning – that is just what I am avoiding right now – if only someone could do it for me I have so much else to do – ho hum off to vacuum

  4. What a great choice of fantasies. I would pick having a maid I think. I abhor cleaning, but kinda like cooking. My hair is probably beyond repair. I have it colored about 3 or 4 times a year and call it good.

  5. It is strange I would say cleaner as I do not like cleaning but my husband has been wanting to get me a cleaner for ages but I keep rejecting it I am bit like you Shauna it just seems too rebellious I just couldn’t do it. So I going to go for a cook, my family is a fussy brunch my husband is vegetarian but I like my meat, my son has textual issues with food and my daughter doesn’t like anything except for junk typical teenager so I love to stop thinking about food and let someone else handle it that would be a dream come true.

    1. Oh man it must be exhausting to have so many tastes to cater for! Yes you deserve a cook, and someone to do the dishes afterwards! 🙂

  6. Cleaner. Hands down.
    (We have one once a fortnight anyway, but will up to weekly when required. Which may be soon.)

    Doing one’s own domestic duties when one can afford to outsource is overrated, I say.
    (When I have kids I will tell them that when they grow up and earn money they can get a cleaner too, but they need their pocket money so they had better get on it!)

  7. Well I generally like cooking (and all the planning that involves) and I have short hair that I never bother to do much with so this was a no-brainer for me. I was surprised that there would be anyone who wouldn’t pick cleaner! I mean, a clean house! More often than twice a year when people are coming over! The oven dealt with, the Lego minefield, the grimy bath, the blinds, the kitchen floor under my seven-year-old’s chair!

  8. Cleaner. Most definitely (and if they could do the laundry and iron my clothes too that’d be ACE!). Scrubbing the mould off the grout with an old toothbrush is not just unglamorous, it makes me downright resentful. And I like cooking and I don’t really care that much about what my hair looks like.

    Maybe you and Gareth need some kind of elaborate system whereby you reward yourselves for planning and cooking your meals consistently by getting a cleaner in 🙂

    1. “Scrubbing the mould off the grout with an old toothbrush is not just unglamorous, it makes me downright resentful”

      Oh beautifully said!

  9. I will measure the peak of my career success as being the day we can afford a cleaner – oh the heavenly wonder of it…. Although I’ve always wondered what people DO when the cleaner comes over? Just sit around and feel shameful? Hide in the furthest room? Look busy “working from home”? Watch netflix and embrace the shame? I can’t picture it.

  10. Love that trilemma. Maybe you should scale it back to once a month and do it in reality, then tell us what your year of living luxuriously was like (or at least monthly-luxuriously). You’re inspiring me!

  11. P.S. When we did hire a cleaning person (monthly), we spent just as much time “cleaning for the cleaning lady” as she spent actually cleaning. Husband was freaked out about having a stranger touch his belongings!

  12. TOTALLY THE CLEANER. No question. You know I’ve been following the plan in the “30 Days to a Clean and Organized House” book, and it’s wonderful living in a clean house, it’s just… WONDERFUL. There’s a real boost in attitude and outlook when you’re not surrounded by filth and dirty dishes. You might not *consciously* see the mess, but some part of your brain does. Can’t recommend this book enough.

    However, I don’t have time for cleaning! We both work full-time; I can spare maybe 20 minutes a day–maximum–on cleaning. Would much rather have it done for me.

    Second choice the cook, because it takes an ungodly amount of time to shop, prepare, and clean up meals. I hate how much time we spend in the kitchen. But you can always have a sandwich for dinner, or take out, and there’s not an equivalent shortcut for cleaning the house.

    Hairdresser: What? Hairdresser? I wash my hair in the shower, run a comb through it, let it dry as I get dressed, and never look at it again until the first time I go to the restroom at work, and then however it ended up, I pretend I meant it to look like that. Easy peasy.

  13. I love this question! Definitely the cleaner, since I actually like to cook and I think even a professional hairdresser would have a hard time doing something with my stick-straight hair. I wouldn’t even need the cleaner to do the whole house, just cleaning the bathrooms once a week would be amazing…I hate cleaning the bathrooms.

  14. I would totally go with the housecleaner. I HATE to clean. In fact, Natalie ^^^ said almost word-for-word how I feel about it. Great question!

  15. Ha! Ha! Lots of laughter when I was reading this. Especially the bit about me. My motto for raising you and Rhiannon: Teach you the skills you will need to live well on your own (without me to look after you :-). I don’t believe I ever said, you can’t get help to do it. A very entertaining perspective, Shauna. I do so love your sense of humour.

    1. “she even carefully arranged the bananas into a smile on the fruit platter”

      Instead of all tangled up with the apples where I’d just chucked them in. She was all class! *swoon*

  16. You make such a good casE that I want all three — I’d happily go pick up the food and go out to the hairdresser. That’s the problem with the cleaner for me — a person I don’t really know in my house, judging me and my stuff.

    I go to the hairdresser every five weeks and when I happen to see people after, they’re always stunned by how good I look, so I can’t argue that I’m doing just fine with that on my own.

    I am glad I am not the only weirdo who decided that being a pretend millionaire is too much work! I’ll let one of my family members win and pay off my mortgage!

    1. I hear you Jen! It was okay with something neutral like a bathroom but I think I’d feel weird to have someone tidy up the bedroom or something!

  17. I have to say I love the remark from Gareth “this is not your work!” I can imagine that scenario at my house too. That would be so nice to be able to afford a house cleaner, especially an awfully good one!

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