Whether you have a full time or part-time housekeeper, some simple guidelines can help you get the most out of the person who is caring for your home.

Discussing expectations when you initially hire someone is the easiest way to pave the road for a smooth employer/employee relationship. However, even if someone has been working for you for many years, it is never too late to have a conversation with your employee.

Being open and upfront with topics such as job description, vacation time, and rules inside the home can help alleviate confusion and frustration.

It is important to decide what you hope your housekeeper will accomplish in the hours they spend caring for your home. Be clear about what you want to be completed each week and understand that your vision needs to be realistic for the number of hours they work for you. If you only have someone coming in once or twice a week for a limited amount of time, getting a deep clean throughout the house can be challenging if they need to spend the first few hours searching for the dirt underneath the clutter. A quick pickup of items before they arrive will allow easier access to the floors and countertops so they may be properly scrubbed, dusted and vacuumed.

To remove guesswork on both sides, come up with a list of the days off your employee will be given. Which holidays do they get, will they have a set amount of paid sick or snow days, or do you expect them to make up the work they have missed? Do you want your housekeeper to take their vacation time when you are away, or would you like them to come to work and do special projects while the house is empty so they have extra time and space to take everything out of the cabinets or reorganize messy closets? Remember to give your employee as much notice as possible about when they should take their vacation so they can also plan for their much earned time off.

In today’s world, it seems like many of us are on our phones more often than we are not. You have to decide what policy you want to implement in your home. Many families choose not to allow any electronics during work hours. This is perfectly acceptable, but should be discussed during the interview process or if they are already working for you, take a moment to sit down and explain what is expected in your household. You may want to consider allowing phone time during lunch breaks if it won’t disturb you. Again, each situation is different; you just need to clearly relay the guidelines you wish to be followed. On a personal note, in addition to having a housekeeper I also employ a laundress. One day I went downstairs into the laundry room and had a moment of clarity. I realized that the lady who does my laundry was standing in silence in a small room for hours on end folding, washing, and ironing our clothes. It occurred to me that there was no reason why she could not have music playing or talk on her phone while she was working, so long as both of her hands were free to properly do their job and I couldn’t hear anything from upstairs. Now, every once in a while when I walk by the laundry room, I see her happily singing or swaying to the music. This small bit of daily entertainment has made her a better worker and a happier employee.

I think it is important to understand that we are all human. We all have good days and bad days. Not every day is going to be perfect, but if your employee knows what is expected of them and you treat them with kindness and respect they will always try to do their best for you. Open communication is the key to a positive employer/employee relationship.