WWYD – Letter from a Reader

What would you do? Read the letter and let us know in the comments.

Dear Hadassah,

I love my housekeeper. She is my oasis of sanity in a frenetic world. I work full time and have two sons and a husband who find it difficult to clean up after themselves. She keeps the house clean and tidy and running like a well oiled machine.

Lately I have noticed little items have gone missing – an eyeliner, a sample bottle of shampoo, etc. Nothing pricey, but still…

I don’t want to think that she has been taking these things – but am at a loss as to how these things have disappeared. It could be that they have just been misplaced – but I have a place for everything.

How do I handle this so that I don’t outright accuse her of stealing? I don’t want to lose her, especially if there could be a rational explanation.

Perhaps you could ask your readers if they can give me some guidance here.

Thanks,

A Long Time Reader.

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11 Comments

  1. Ask her if she’s seen it and judge her reaction accordingly.

    • Yeah, that’s pretty simple. Just ask her if she’s seen it and blush about having lost them. In fact, ask everyone in your household. I lose stuff all the time but I would be really hesitant to accuse the housekeeper. You might end up with egg all over your face. I don’t know how old your kids are but younger kids have a tendency of moving stuff around. Heck, I try to keep my stuff in the same place all the time now but when you’re stressed and overwhelmed (and it sounds like you are), you end up finding you’ve left things in the weirdest places.

      • fille says:

        And this might be a reason why it is, as a matter of principle, preferable not to have a housekeeper/nanny and children: it could make the children sneaky, because they could accuse the housekeeper/nanny of their own misdeeds.

        So assume it was your children, especially if it is about small things that do not have much value to an adult…

        • tesyaa says:

          I have had help in my house for many, many years (mostly as a working mother), and my kids never, ever tried to blame anything on the babysitter or cleaning person. They’d be mortified at the thought. Maybe that’s because I always taught them to have respect for the household helpers, I don’t know.

  2. If your reader really likes her housekeeper, outright accusing her of stealing won’t do (she’ll lose her housekeeper AND never see her items again). I would either talk to her or leave her a note, asking her to “keep her eyes open” for these few items that have seem to been misplaced. Even go so far as to say “I think I misplaced some things around the house. Can you please keep your eyes open for them as you tidy up?”

    If this goes on, you have to weigh how much you like your housekeeper, vs. how much you like your stuff. You can find another housekeeper…

  3. i hope she isn’t the cleaner we had for a while – took lots and lots of stuff over the course of months. one tupperware this, one tupperware that. two rubber duckies from the tub, two this and that, etc. – we found out when we asked her if she had seen ‘x’ and she got all defensive and accused us of accusing her, etc. – turns out, she worked for some friends at the same time, and they were missing a lot of stuff as well. — stop it before you lose something you really want/need.

  4. batya from NJ says:

    I think you should give her the benefit of the doubt for now but definitely keep your eyes WIDE open for the future. I would certainly ask her now in a polite way if she might have possibly seen the various missing items & to be on the look out for them b/c you have misplaced them & I guess you will see what happens but if things keep mysteriously disappearing I would try to find someone new.

  5. Rivki says:

    That’s a tricky one. The overwhelming majority of cleaning help theft stories that I have heard have all turned out to be nothing more than an object being misplaced, or a misunderstanding.

    Even if she is taking things, you mentioned that she’s your “oasis of sanity,” and that the items are small. Maybe you could take an extra precaution with your actual valuables, i.e. a small safe, etc. But I wouldn’t give up your oasis because of this. You could always get a nanny cam or something, if you want to check it out discreetly, and place a “trap.” Or you could wait it out.

    Or, if you want to non-confrontationally ask her about it, you could ask about one of the items, like, “Oh, I was looking for my (item) the other day and I couldn’t find it. Have you seen it?” And gauge her reaction. If she is taking things, it’s a subtle way of letting her know that you’ve noticed that things are missing. Or it’s a way to find out that it’s hiding in the back of the linen closet because of the men in your life moved it. Ask them about it, too, if you haven’t already.

    Good luck, and I hope that it’s nothing more than a misunderstanding!

  6. tesyaa says:

    Little items that disappear in my house always eventually reappear, and I wouldn’t think that a housekeeper took them. HOWEVER, if the letter writer is very neat and organized, and there’s no other explanation, it could very well be the housekeeper.

    Maybe the housekeeper lives at a much lower scale and truly thinks you won’t miss the little items – however, stealing is stealing. If she really is stealing even these little nothings, I would not continue to employ her, however wonderful her work. No way. No housekeeper is worth it if you’ll always be feeling you can’t trust her.

    And you can hire someone else – it’s a pain to switch, but you’ll manage, I promise.

  7. lady lock and load says:

    I would get rid of sticky fingers immediately. Housekeepers are a dime a dozen around here.

  8. fille says:

    1) Check your children first
    2) Secure items of value = if you don’t trust her, prevention is better than regret…

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