If you’re of a certain age – like me – then you not only remember Monica from “Friends,” but you also likely remember every episode, every line. And you also probably remember that whenever Monica got stressed out, she’d start to clean house. Scrubbing windows, mopping floors, rearranging her cabinets: this girl was like Rosie the Robot from “The Jetsons” (another classic show for those of us of a certain age) on speed.

Yeah, I’m nothing like Monica when anxiety hits.

Instead, when I’m feeling stressed – whether it be due to work, family, or finances – I tend to shut down. I prefer to curl into the fetal position and hide under a fuzzy blanket, fighting the urge to suck my thumb like I did as a kid. The last thing I want to do when I’m feeling stressed is clean my house.

And lately, I’ve been feeling pretty stressed.

So, perhaps it goes without saying, lately I haven’t been doing a lot of house cleaning.

So, yeah, lately my house has become pretty darn messy. No, not just messy – dirty.

So when a friend mentioned that her cleaning lady was taking on new clients, I didn’t hem and haw over a decision that could cost me big bucks like I usually do. I didn’t even discuss it over with my husband. Instead, I picked up my phone and texted the gal to see how quickly she could get to my house. Before day’s end, we’d set up twice a month appointments to tackle my home’s worst offenders: the kitchen and bathrooms.

Here’s the breakdown:

2 hours of housecleaning every other Friday (26 times a year)

$22/hr (total of $1,144/year)

Libby doesn’t have to clean her own toilets anymore (priceless)

If I’m being perfectly honest with you – and myself – hiring a cleaning service to do something I’ve done (or, in many cases, not done) myself for the past decade seems like more than just a luxury. It makes me feel spoiled, entitled, and even snobby; things I generally don’t like to feel.

About four years ago, my husband and I hired a different cleaning company (they, however, cost substantially more money than my new cleaning lady for virtually the same amount of time); after a month, we decided we’d rather save the money and do the housework ourselves. We were about to have a second kid, I was about to leave my cushy full-time job in TV to enter the world of freelance, and using a cleaning service was not only a luxury – it was an extravagance.

Now, though, our situation is a little different. My husband’s job situation is largely the same, but our move has turned his 10-minute commute into 45 minutes each way, meaning he has less time to help out at home. I’m back to working a full-time job, but this time it’s one with more responsibilities and travel, also limiting my so-called “free time” to clean house. And our children are older, meaning they’ve got a slew of dance classes, swim lessons, and play dates that keep us constantly on the move. And as much as I’d love to be above it all, say “C’est la vie,” and let the house go to hell in a handbasket, my type A personality simply can’t deal with all the clutter, even if it doesn’t want to be the person cleaning it up.

So I’m considering the $1,144 I’ll spend on my cleaning lady this year an investment. It’s an investment in my productivity and my peace of mind. I’m hoping the return on investment will be more efficiency in my work and less time worrying about the ring around the toilet bowl when guests come over.

What indulgences and luxuries do you allow yourself, even when you know they’re largely unnecessary?

Libby Balke

Libby Balke