I haven’t cleaned my own house in about five years. When we moved into our current residence, I got a cleaning service referral from a few trusted friends. It’s a small, family-owned business who have reliably taken care of vacuuming, dusting, mopping, and scrubbing the inside of our house. To us, they aren’t just a cleaning crew. They helped welcome our fourth child, adopted as an infant, into our family. They cleaned around me as I recovered from a mastectomy for almost three solid months. They have been there through thick and thin, and we are thankful for them.
When our state issued a shelter-in-place order, I decided it would be best to suspend cleanings to avoid unnecessary, potential virus exposure. My husband and I made the decision that we should continue to pay the cleaning crew. Yes, we were cleaning our own home. However, the relationship we had formed with this family was important to us, and we knew they relied on their customers to take care of their own families.
On a practical level, there was no reason for us to suspend payment. Both of us are working from home, and we’re actually spending less money now than we were before the global pandemic hit. My husband isn’t commuting to downtown St. Louis for work every day. Our kids aren’t in any extracurriculars right now. I’m no longer running to TJMaxx or Target for “just a few things.” Staying out of stores means we aren’t buying any extras on a whim. We aren’t going to the chiropractor, so we aren’t racking up co-pays. My girls aren’t getting their hair braided right now, and there’s no haircuts for three of us. We aren’t spending money like we normally do.
I understand that not everyone is in the same position we are. However, if you are, here’s the deal. If you’re privileged enough to pay for non-essentials, such as extracurriculars for your kids, a house cleaning service, and pricey haircuts, consider continuing to pay for these during the quarantine. If you’re financially stable right now, why not pass on that stability to others who serve your family?
Many of my friends live paycheck-to-paycheck and are not among those who are able to work from home. Others have small businesses that have been forced to close. There’s my friend who co-owns a popular hair salon. There’s my son’s barber. Our local African American bookstore, one of the only in the country, is trying to make their rent without their physical store being open via a GoFundMe campaign.
These individuals are honoring social isolation, social distancing, and state orders to keep non-essential businesses closed for the sake of public health. But by doing so, they’re putting their own financial stability in grave jeopardy. Like us, they have families to take care of.
Before you clapback at me about stimulus checks, those checks are hardly a cure for the financial ailment. The money doesn’t last long when you have serious bills to pay. The reality is, the checks may help, but they are hardly enough to keep any of us afloat — without other income — for more than a short period of time.
If you can afford to, why not figure out ways to support those who have loved your family well for many years? There are ways to financially support nail technicians, dance studios, personal trainers, babysitters, and others during this time. These gestures send a powerful message to those who have served us: you matter.
Give a gift card.
Gift cards are a practical, easy way to give to others. Cards for brick-and-mortar stores—such as grocery stores—and online stores, are practical and help people meet their needs for the basics.
Buy a gift card.
Many services and individuals are offering gift cards you can buy now for their services that you redeem after the shelter-in-place orders are lifted. This is an easy way for them to secure money now with the promise of services in the future.
When you do use a service, such as a grocery delivery, tip well. 20% is the standard, but if you choose, you can tip beyond that for a job well done. Now is definitely not the time to be stingy, especially since delivery people are literally risking their health to bring your items.
Contribute a donation.
GoFundMe campaigns are one way to give easily and quickly. As mentioned before, some small businesses are utilizing these, trying to keep their companies open during a time when it’s not possible to bring in income otherwise.
Offer money, just because.
Another option is just to give a cash donation—just because. Every exchange doesn’t have to be tit-for-tat, right?
Pay for the service, even if you aren’t being served.
As mentioned earlier, maybe you have a cleaning service come to your home on a regular schedule. To keep your slot secure and to maintain a relationship with the cleaning staff, consider paying for the service—whatever it may be–even though you’re DIYing it for the moment.
At some point, we will again receive services from those we have grown to trust—with our kids, with our hair, with our homes—so it’s a good idea to respect and maintain those individuals now. The only way we will get through this global pandemic is to honor the safety standards and be generous with others when we can.
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