Cleaning Up For The Cleaning Lady

by Samantha on May 17, 2011

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.

cleaning

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?

Image courtesy of http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly Ann May 17, 2011 at 3:29 am

Whenever I can actually afford it, I get help! Typically I can only afford it about once every other month (sigh). I would have a weekly housekeeper if I could. And no, of course I don't feel bad about it. Just the thought of feeling bad about it seems absurd to me. When I hire a housekeeper, I'm employing someone. That's a darn good thing in this economy and I know that the housekeeper I call when I can is always happy to come. She's the best! Plus, she always says nice little lies to me that make me feel good like, “For 3 kids under 4, this place is kept up pretty well!” lol

Why would anyone think getting help is a bad thing? We are social animals. We are instinctually helpful. If people didn't need help, both me and the housekeeper would be out of work! ;)

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Samantha May 17, 2011 at 3:36 am

@Holly AnnHolly – all I can say is “thank-you!” You seem to have it all in perspective. I don't know where my neuroses come from but this does go a long way to temper one of them – issues with the state of my house. It's definitely a work in progress and you're right – if you're paying someone you shouldn't feel bad…not sure why I do but I'm working on it. Thanks for commenting!

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Anonymous May 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I don't have outside help only because of guilt. My older sister is a kick-ass mother to two amazing young boys. She lives is a massive 3500 square-foot home and she has no outside help. Everytime I go over – even for a surprise visit- her home is clean. How?? I don't know. My sister-in-law is the same. She has two young kids all under the age of 4 and her house is always spotless. She's a clean freak and vaccums every day.
I don't know how they do it. I finally came to the realization that I can not live up to these standards and I only have one kid.
While I don't think getting outside help is a bad thing, it's just not in my budget right now.
But you know what who cares if my house is messy. Sure there may be crumbs and crayons on the family room floor but I'd rather spend my time with my daughter than the Swifter.

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Melanie May 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I love the cleaning up for the cleaning lady….so so true!

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Samantha May 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm

@Anonymous
Wow! Well said! I too would rather spend time with my kids than mopping, but there is a part of me that wishes that the cleaning will take care of itself. I guess that's not a possibility so cleaning lady it is…or else live in filth. How depressing…

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Samantha May 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm

@Melanie
You to it too? Guess it's more common than I thought! Makes you wonder why we will pay if we at some point can rush around getting it done before the paid cleaner gets there. Crazy!

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Ruzanne May 20, 2011 at 7:20 am

Hi Sam! As for me, I don't have a cleaning lady, just a nanny who takes after the little one's mess. Also to do the laundry on weekends, but that's that. Now, I'm not fond of cleaning and would love to have help all the time. But it got me thinking of how much I can save, and how many calories I could actually burn from doing the cleaning myself! So between work (wahmom here!) and cooking and the boys, I do the cleaning. It's a blessing to have a hubby and a teenage son who knows their parts as well. So no cleaning woman, indeed. Although when I feel like complaining – just so I could go to the spa LOL! – I'll be like, “You all think I'm the cleaning lady in here! Clean up your mess, I'm so tired from working – blah!blah! LOL!

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Samantha May 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm

@Ruzanne Ruzanne – the spa sounds like the perfect solution to the mess! Hopefully the rest of the family will get the hint and tidy up for you in time for your return. If not, at least you'll be relaxed when you get home!
Thanks for commenting :)

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Hello! I'm Kate. May 20, 2011 at 7:19 pm

No outside help here, but my mom always did off & on. You gotta do all the decluttering before the housekeeper gets there to do the deep cleaning!

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Samantha May 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm

@Hello! I'm Kate. Hi, Kate!
That's what I was afraid of – dealing with the clutter! In a way it's good because it forces you to clean up more than you would have done before – so when she gets there it is doubly better!
Thanks for commenting.

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ladydazy May 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I had the best cleaning lady ever for a long time til funds got really tight. Yeah, it stayed clean for about 3 days but it remained deep cleaned for about 1 1/2 weeks.

I try to follow what she did. I have ADD so it's best that I do one room at a time.

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Samantha May 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm

@ladydazy
Me, too! I start cleaning one room then I'm off to another, then another. Can't stay focused on just the one. It might be because I'm overwhelmed. Keep working on it…I hear that the house will get better overall then the cleaning won't have to be so deep next time.
Thanks for commenting!

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just me... May 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I have a cleaning lady come once a week to clean the bathrooms and floors. I used to have her do the kitchen, but she helped so much that I don't need as much help anymore. Her true worth is when I run around like crazy getting everything ready for her. I honestly don't like telling people that I have one because I feel like it's admitting how bad I am at cleaning, like I am a failure at being a woman. But we were not all made from the same cookie cutter. Everyone has different strengths and keeping things clean is just not one of mine.

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Samantha May 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm

@just me…
Funny how we seem so compelled to hide our need for help, isn't it? And in spite of ourselves, we make excuses for the fact that for whatever reason, assistance is required. I do the same thing – feel embarrassed by the fact that I can't keep it all together. My more logical side convinced my neurotic side that this was sheer silliness, so I outed myself on my blog. Okay, it's out there now so everyone knows I can't keep the house orderly. Oh, well. No big deal in the larger scheme of things, is it, really?

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Grumpy Grateful Mom May 22, 2011 at 12:13 am

I think it's interesting that some of us feel so badly about needing help. I am such an independent person I feel like I am a failure in some way by admitting my imperfections. A stay-at-home mom should be able to keep her house clean–right?

As you know from my post, my experience with help did not go so well. I got an email from a reader today that made me rethink my decision.

She said having someone come weekly or biweekly has made a huge difference for her and has been worth the money. She had her cleaning lady do the the bathrooms, kitchen, mop and vacuum. And, like you would always clean like crazy before the woman arrived. It was motivation.

So, I guess I may try it again, with a different person–we'll see.

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Samantha May 22, 2011 at 12:52 am

@Grumpy Grateful Mom Hey – whatever works, right? If you need to try someone else and see how it goes, nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, it's about getting the help you need and the end result – a clean house. So try again and hope for the best! Good luck :)

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Anonymous May 22, 2011 at 6:20 am

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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Samantha May 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

@Anonymous Thank-you so much! I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog. Glad I can provide some entertainment and hopefully some advice to you.
Have a great weekend :)

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Arlee May 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I would love to get a cleaning lady…we just can't afford it. But I know that when the kids are grown and gone I will have a perfectly clean house. I'm in no rush for them to leave…so I guess I will just deal with the mess.

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Samantha May 26, 2011 at 10:37 pm

@Arlee Good idea to keep your “eye on the prize” and realize that one day your house will be clean…but the kids will be gone. Puts it all in perspective, doesn't it??

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Michelle June 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Know what? Today I had my kids and their cousins running rampant round my house. There was lego, paper sculptures, dolls, cars…you name it, scattered everyehere. There was laughter and happiness and when they left I looked at my crazy upside-down house and thought “wow my house is a mess, but my heart is full.”

Nobody will ever put “She had a spotless house” on my tombstone. I like to think that when my kids are grown-up, they'll remember the love, laughter and happiness.

As for getting help – I am very happy to say I am lucky enough to have a cleaner once a week. She is a saint :-)

I wish women didn't feel like we have to have perfect homes. Or have perfect bodies. When will we learn that we are the only ones who expect that from ourselves?

Great blog. Thanks!

PS – I'm the mother of the “KKK monkey” kid on Rants from Mommyland ;p eeeek!

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Samantha June 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

@Michelle Hi Michelle,

Is the KKK monkey still intact? Now that was funny!

Re: cleaning – I'm with you – no one who knows me and my family would EVER say that we had a spotless house. It is just not a possibility with 5,000 kids! That said, some semblance of order is my perpetual goal, though I never seem to get there. I clean, the kids mess. I clean, they mess again. It goes on and on…I would love a weekly cleaning lady. Right now we're doing it on an ad hoc basis but I think I need to commit to something more regular because it's well…MAYHEM in my house. And a mess!
Thanks for commenting.

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