DEAR HARRIETTE: I hired a woman to help me clean my apartment, and it's not working out so well. She is very sweet and trustworthy, which is important. A friend who knew I needed help at a low price recommended her, but she is not very good. For example, when she cleaned the bathroom, she didn't move anything, so the corners were dirty. So was the mirror above the sink. When I told her about it, she went back and cleaned better, but pretty much everything she cleans is incomplete. Don't get me wrong: I appreciate her help. My place is a mess. But I want it to get clean, and I don't think she can do it. Do you think there's something I can say to her that will help her to be better? Or should I fire her and hire somebody else? -- Cleaning Up, Detroit
DEAR CLEANING UP: Given that you are attempting to clean your home and also learning how to maintain it, you may want to stick it out with this woman and work together room by room. You have a sense of what you want to be done in your home, but you have not been doing it. Show her what you expect in terms of thoroughness. Teach her to clean to your specifications. What you may discover is that as you are teaching her, you are also teaching yourself.
Now, there is another school of thought on this one. You could also hire a true professional who can come in and clean your house thoroughly and quickly. What you will likely miss out on in that experience is the opportunity for personal growth.