Cleaning Up For The Cleaning Lady

The dirt on the dirt is that many of us are very dirty.

The problem is that none of us want to admit it.

Many parents have a “dirty little secret” – that is, that they need help to keep their homes in a reasonable shape, at least on the surface. How do they do this? By having a cleaning lady. Is that so wrong?

Apparently it is, according to some. We as parents are supposed to be able to take care of not only ourselves and our families, but all the messes that come along with a group of people living together as well. Many feel that there is no reason for hiring “help,” and that one should be able to do it all on one’s  own.


I raise my hand here to say that I need help and lots of it. I cannot keep it together and I admire those who can – those who, regardless of the number of children who may run through the house with muddy boots while trailing sticky fingers along the wall, are able to rise like a phoenix above the laundry mound and take the high road – all while effortlessly cooking dinner and smiling sweetly. With mop raised and Dyson poised, they put all of us less able moms to shame. June Cleaver seems to be their idol. I hate them for it. Only because it makes me look bad.

I will admit that I’ve called for help. With three young children and a busy schedule, let’s just say that my home is not a beacon of cleanliness and order. Spurred on by a newfound desire to finally get my act together, I looked around and realized the stark horror of my environment. It was bad. Really bad. And I had already called the cleaning lady.

How sad is it when you have to clean up for the cleaning lady? When you feel so compelled to make things look like you have it together, even though you so don’t? How sad is it that we feel compelled to present the veneer of having it all under control when in our heart of hearts we know that the reality of the situation is nothing like our fantasy? How sad is it that in spite of your best efforts, you still feel humiliated that your house is not and will never be the spotless showroom that you have seen at others’ places, or on TV, or in the movies. The stark reality sets in and you realize that you will never win. You will never be like one of those “perfect” moms, not now, not ever.

You stay up cleaning so that you don’t offend the cleaning lady and still leave the house before she gets there, feeling humiliated the whole time that she’s seen  your dirty little secret. You leave the money for her in an envelope adding to the clandestine aura and feeling that what you’re doing is somehow wrong. Your house stays clean for oh, one day (or one hour, if you have twins) and you’re back to square one. You can never win.

Okay, so I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent with this post (sorry) but it is clearly one that touches a nerve. How is it done? How do people with children keep the house together without help? As I asked early on, is “having it all” still possible – including having a clean and orderly house?

So my questions attached to this post are this:

Do you have outside “help” to keep your house clean and in order? If so, do you keep this fact under wraps, or admit it freely to others? If not, how do you keep things under control?

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