When I was a kid, I don’t remember our family ever having a house cleaner. I think it’s because during that time my mom stayed at home, so she had time to devote to things like maintaining the cleanliness of all the different parts of the house over time because she had time. But again – I was a kid. I wasn’t paying attention, so who knows what happened. I do know that sometime after my mom got a full-time outside-the-house job, that once a month a lovely lady and two members of her team would show up to clean everything. And while my mom is good at cleaning, I know she appreciated everything that Norma made possible for her with these periodic deep cleanings.
When the Boy and I moved in together initially, he had mentioned how nice it would be to have a cleaner come periodically. I believed that because our apartments was so small, that we could handle it. And we could. Sort of. It was fine. When we bought the house, I agreed that having someone come in would be something we could do. But the process of finding someone good, and of actually scheduling time got away from us. We’d been living in the house for nearly a year and were having lots of family and friends over for an event when we decided to finally pull the trigger and hire Emma to come in every month or so.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first. I feel like I’m pretty decent at taking care of the house, but I do also know that I’m lazy and have a tendency to just let things go for a while if I’m in a hurry or feeling stressed or lazy, I’ll just let messes pile up. The perfect example is the dishes. I love to have a clear sink and an empty dishwasher. But very rare are the times at the end of the night where I want to wash all the dishes that I used. If I can get the dishes we ate off of into the dishwasher, that’s an accomplishment, but too often the dishwasher is either full and needs to be run, or it needs to be emptied before I can fill it again, so I get tired and lazy at the end of the night and say, “Screw this” and leave it for some other time when I have more energy. And things pile up. This happens with many areas of the house. It’s sort of shameful.
So imagine my surprise at the the state of things coming back home the first day after Emma had been there. Things were in the ideal versions of themselves. Sink – clean. Stove – clean. Bedrooms – all vacuumed and tidy. Bathrooms – CLEAN. It was life-changing to have that totally clean slate to start from.
Yes, being able to hire someone to clean my home is a privilege, but it also serves the purpose of sanity restoration. So much of cleaning is trying to maintain a state of ease – when things are really gross and grimy, it’s hard to get to a middle ground where it’s easy to tidy because you’re so worried about the general grossness. Having Emma come and restore things to that ideal state makes it easier (for a while) to get ourselves back to that lovely super-clean state faster, because there’s less work that needs to be done to get there. And having someone come in to clean makes it easier to “do it all” the way that we are encouraged to as modern working women. As Lindsey Roberts said in a recent article for the Washington Post, if we try to do and be everything, someone in our lives will get the tail end of our love and energy, which isn’t fair to that person, or to us.
Again – it’s a privilege that not everyone can afford. But in the article, it’s couched in this way – what does it cost you to do your own cleaning? You should factor in time you could be spending either working or relaxing, how long you’d be working, cost of supplies, opportunities you’d miss, and everything. It’s the kind of calculation that can help you see that your time is worth more than you think. If the value of your time there is less than say, $50/hour, then perhaps you can still do it yourself, and be saving money. But if it’s over that number, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about how much freedom of time, effort, energy and mental anguish is worth to you.
Ok – that’s it for today. Who else out there has ever hired a house cleaner? Or has one that comes regularly? What was your experience like? If you say, “slightly awkward” that’s ok – everyone feels that.