I faced a truth about myself a long time ago.
I’m not the world’s best housekeeper. Despite having chores around my mom’s house from the time I was old enough to remember (I used to have to stand on a chair to do dishes and dust those endless knick-knacks in the formal living room and my bedroom was my chore on Fridays), I never liked housecleaning and I am not good at it.
My mother always used to say it was because I’ve always had to work and didn’t have all the time she did as a housewife to concentrate on getting really good at it.
That’s partially true, but it’s also true that I just don’t like it. I don’t see a real purpose for having floors that shine like mirrors and a house that either feels like a museum or as clean as a laboratory.
I would rather always be doing something else, almost anything else.
That’s one of the main reasons downsizing to Our Little House fit our lifestyle. Dale hates home maintenance almost as much as I hate housework and having less of each allows us to do more of the things we actually want to do.
I don't think I'm the worst housekeeper either. I can give the house a decent cleaning in two hours or less, even with six dogs in full time residence. Still, if someone is coming to stay, it takes me at least twice as long, if not three times longer to thoroughly clean and I still have many feelings of inadequacy regarding my ability to do a good job.
It’s time I not only don’t want to lose; it’s time I cannot afford to lose right now with a book contract signed and one in the works.
That’s why when I learned my in-laws were coming for a stay last week, I decided to do what many of my writer friends have done and that’s hire someone to come and clean for me.
I asked around the mountain and found someone who came highly recommended. She was also affordable.
Not ever having someone clean for me, I really didn’t know what I should do before she arrived, but pick up some clutter and make sure the dogs were out of the way. I didn’t clean the week before she came, although I did a little sweeping of the “tumbledogs” (those hairballs the dogs generate) each day as normal.
When she finished, I gave a cursory look around and thought the job looked more than adequate. I asked if she wanted to return every other week.
“Honestly, it was too hairy for me,” she said. “I realize you have dogs and all…”
Yes, this was a fact I disclosed before she agreed to come that morning and that's why I was willing to pay her more (top dollar for wages in this region) than anyone else I had spoken to about cleaning. Also, isn’t the reason you hire someone to clean for you because you need someone, not because your house is already spotless?
Taken aback and feeling even more inadequate as a housekeeper, I handed her the check and told her it was nice meeting her.
“What does it mean when a housekeeper refuses to come back” I asked our neighbor, who is a very good housekeeper in her own right and has seen our house on its best days and also on its worst.
“I’m angry for you,” she said. “What a crock. You have dogs. What did she expect?”
I realized later that while this woman was experienced, she was not experienced with home cleaning, she was a commercial cleaner. Her full time job is cleaning rooms at a resort (most of them, if they’re like our hotel rooms, are barely lived in as we just use them to bathe and sleep) and the recommendation I received was from the owner of a beauty salon and an office building, hardly areas where you would encounter living, especially with pets.
Dale, who has always been the better housekeeper in the family, also noticed surfaces that were not dusted, a clock knocked completely off of the wall and hidden behind the television and an area on the floor that was not swept.
Later, he had a few more choice words for my hiring “help” when he couldn’t get the television or DVD player to work because the wires had been unplugged and rehooked wrong.
And so we resolved to pay closer attention to the chores, and we formally assigned them. He will continue to clean the bathroom (this has always been his chore as before we left the city and used harsh cleaners, my allergies could not take them) and he now has the weekly task on the floors, which hurt my back. I will continue my daily task of keeping the clutter down, sweeping daily and dusting, just as I did when I was a kid, only we don’t have endless knick-knacks to clean.
We both alternate cooking and dishes/cleaning the kitchen.
Even still, I found myself nagging on cleaning day as he made excuses. I won though, when I reminded him that he did not want me to hire someone else to help.
The one thing we need is a good, small vaccum that does well on laminate flooring in tiny spaces. Any recommendations?
Do you have someone clean your home or do you and/or your kids and/or spouse help?