Our exchange family employed a woman three times a week for three hours each time. They also had someone else come to do the ironing.
In Arizona, I had a woman come to clean the house (bathrooms, dusting, mopping) twice a month. We'll call her Mirena, because that is her name.
Right after we agreed to do the exchange, JP made a contract with their cleaning lady (Habiba, or Biba for short) for twice a week during the year we would be living at their house. We only found out he'd signed such a contract after he'd done it. I think he did this so they wouldn't lose her while they were out of the country (i.e. they want her to be available to work for them when they get back to Mougins in a year). But it meant we were tied into using her for the whole year, no exceptions. To complicate matters a bit more, it turns out she is also something called declare (declared), which means she has insurance coverage in case of an accident while working at the house. But this also costs money: The insurance costs almost as much as her wage, so the cost to have her nearly doubles.
Thus, the drama begins. I'm not used to having someone working around my house that often, so twice a week was uncomfortable for me. More importantly, paying 18 euros an hour (about $27 an hour today which - by the way - would have been about $18 a year ago) when there isn't a whole lot to do made it difficult to accept the expense. We told JP we could only have her once a week because of the cost, and so the next time Biba came over she was almost teary eyed wondering why we would do such a thing.
Meanwhile, the exchange family is having their own issues at our place. For 2-1/2 years Mirena has been doing her thing, exactly the same thing each time but now there is a new lady of the house. And she's not happy! She's used to having someone come three times a week, not only to clean, but do laundry, arrange the closets, tidy the cupboards and who knows what else. Besides, apparently Mirena has been jabbering too much on her cell phone and not really cleaning.
Things escalated when Dave told Mirena we needed to cut her wage in half in order to make up for the fact that she was coming twice as much. And when our exchange family decided to go to California for a couple of weeks, Dave thought it was a good idea to tell Mirena not to come while they were gone.
Needless to say, Mirena stopped showing up after that. So here I am looking feverishly on Craigslist.com for a replacement. Craigslist is a gold mine and I can almost always find what I am looking for, so here's hoping that this is one of those times!
"Nancy" is going over to the house tonight for a little interview, so I'm crossing my fingers that she will be the one. Wish me "bonne chance!"