The bathroom sink is clogged and the driveway needs repaving. The milk is about to run out, as is your favorite cereal. The younger kid needs a ride to soccer. The older one needs to meet with his algebra tutor. Your Amazon deliveries are piling up near the door, and the dog is due for a vet appointment.

These and about a hundred other things — the logistics of home and family life — are weighing on your mind even though you’re trying to focus on your work. Your partner, if you have one, may try to help, but finds themselves similarly flummoxed by the work-life juggle. But what if someone else were around to shoulder the load?

Enter the household manager. describes the role of a household manager as someone who has an “in-depth technical knowledge in the areas of house maintenance, cleaning, entertaining, clothing, food and menu planning.” Traditionally, such a person might manage other staff in a wealthy household like house cleaners, chefs and butlers, but the middle-class, according to the Boston Globe, “just want help doing the laundry.”

In other words, a household manager, or more simply, a house manager, does a little bit of everything inside the walls of your home and sometimes outside of them, too.

“My job is to make sure that their life is more organized and easier,” explains veteran house manager Caitlin O’Rourke. “And if it’s not, then I’m not doing my job well.”

Executives and other working women are often reluctant to discuss relying on paid help, fearing they’ll be seen as “entitled” or “incapable,” as Fortune recently reported. And when women do talk about paid help, house managers don’t come up in conversation as often as say, babysitters, house cleaners, or even dog walkers. But those who hire house managers say they play a vital role in helping them maintain order in their lives and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the dueling demands of work and family.

“I feel like I just have real balance in my life,” says Kristen Kehrer, a data scientist, developer advocate, and Massachusetts mom of two, ages 5 and 8. “Even when the schedules are crazy, I can still find time to sit down on the floor and play with my son because I’m not thinking of the chores I have to do.”

Different Needs for Different Families

The duties of a house manager can vary with every family they serve. The same is true for the hours they work and how much they’re paid. Kehrer’s house manager works at her home for five hours a day, three days a week, concentrating on grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking, laundry, walking the dog, driving her kids to activities, and handling the occasional service appointment, like septic tank pumping.

Kehrer pays about $25 an hour, which winds up costing her roughly as much as she was spending on daycare before her younger child started school.

“Basically, all we did was repurpose the daycare money,” she says.

O’Rourke, who lives in northern New Jersey, takes on hourly clients whom she charges between $25 to $60 an hour, depending on how complex their requests are. But she devotes most of her time — at least forty hours a week — to a family that pays her a full-time salary.

Sometimes O’Rourke works remotely, handling various administrative tasks, such as managing family members’ schedules. When she’s on-site at the family’s home, a typical day begins with checking the mail and deliveries, taking a walk-through of the house to see if anything needs repair, and contacting the appropriate vendor when necessary.

After that, O’Rourke works off a list of tasks the family has prepared for her and also handles things that come up during the day, whether it’s taking care of a pet, planning for a last-minute dinner party, or buying gluten-free, nut-free snacks for a school event. She also tackles longer-term projects, like managing an HVAC installation.

“You want to handle the unfun stuff,” O’Rourke says, “and you want to give them the best result, whether that’s a comfortable household or a great event.”

Finding Someone You Trust Besides Yourself

There are different ways to find a house manager that’s right for you. Some families post listings and contact candidates on O’Rourke runs a pay-per-task service through her website, but she recommends for families seeking full-time help. Other sites worth checking out include TaskRabbit and Upwork — the latter can be used to find virtual assistants who accomplish key tasks remotely.

“The most important thing is finding somebody that you trust to get things done,” O’Rourke says. “It could be an older kid from the neighborhood. It could be a retired person who took care of a property for all of their life. I find it’s much more attitude and aptitude. When you can trust them and feel comfortable delegating to them, that’s what’s most important.”

But before you find and get comfortable with a house manager, you might have to admit you need one in the first place. O’Rourke says that she’s been hired by husbands whose wives were reluctant to use her services at first because they felt they should be handling more household tasks on their own, their busy careers notwithstanding.

It’s a sentiment familiar to Samantha Ettus, author of The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction.

“I think that the onslaught of ‘being the perfect mom’ or ‘you can do it all’ mentality coincided with the idea that ‘I'm doing it all and doing it all by myself,’” she says. “That's a very dangerous place to be for women because it's just not possible to do everything without delegating some of it.” This is also why women who are the breadwinners of their families often still shoulder the brunt of the household labor. The guilt is the first thing that needs to go.

Ettus recommends that women feeling ambivalent about hiring house managers or other outsourced help should consider framing the conversation around the value of time versus money.

“When you spend your money, you can theoretically go out and earn more money, but when you spend your time, it’s gone forever,” she says. “Are you better off doing two hours of laundry tonight? Or are you better off spending two hours of quality time with your family? If you're in a position to afford someone to help you do your laundry, that would seem like money well spent.”