Dear Prudence

Help! My Housekeeper Has Gotten Bad at Her Job.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

A coffeemaker with a spill behind it.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. Time for a break-up? I’ve had my housekeeper for about two years. She was recommended to me by a friend, and I recommended her to another friend.

Over time, her work has gotten pretty sloppy. For instance, she doesn’t move the coffee maker or other things to clean behind them on the counter; she doesn’t move the shampoo and conditioner bottles in the shower to clean under them; she doesn’t move the end tables to clean underneath them. I have gently asked her to do these things and it got better for a bit but then it’s back to being sloppy again.

She has had tremendous family tragedy over the past year and she is about to be off for 4-6 weeks for knee surgery. She is a nice person but I am so frustrated with her cleaning. I want to give her $400 to cover some of her time off and then let her go. What is the best way to go about doing this? I really don’t want to hurt her; I don’t want her to be financially devastated. My friend who recommended her, and the one I sent her to, both have the same complaints. I feel guilty but I need my house cleaned properly.

A: Give her the same feedback again, but this time let her know what’s at stake: As much as you like her and want to support her, if she doesn’t do the job you’re paying her for, you’ll have to find someone else. This conversation will be hard (probably for both of you), but not as hard as the guilt you’ll feel and the loss of income she’ll experience if you simply fire her out of frustration.

Classic Prudie

My boyfriend and I live together and we’re incredibly happy. We’re in our early 20s and live in New York with two full-time jobs and side hustles. We’re both equally ambitious and serious about our future, both professionally and as a couple.

I typically beat him home from work, and while I admit I tend to be the neater roommate and more inclined in the kitchen, we have fallen in the habit of me taking over the cleaning and cooking. My boyfriend vocalizes that he’s appreciative of everything I do but groans and drags his feet when I ask him to help out too. We’ve had the conversation multiple times, both light-heartedly and seriously. It does take a toll on me. I enjoy both activities of cooking and cleaning (being a neat freak and vegan home chef will do that to you), but I can’t help but think this might be a red flag down the road. If I’m 23 and already dutifully showing up for the second shift as we build our life together, what will happen when we’re 43 (hopefully with kids) and still in this pattern?