The Dirt on Cleaning – A Parent’s Perspective

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 someone come in to clean the house. 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.


The myth of the clean home

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

A cry for help

I will admit that I’ve called for help. With three elementary school 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. So I hung my head in shame and called in a professional.

How sad is it when you have to clean up the house before someone comes over to clean?

How sad is it when you feel so compelled to make things look like you have it together, even though you so don’t, that you do a frenzied job trying to at least organize the mess so that it can be attacked and neutralized?

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 will eventually set 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 cleaner who is scheduled to be at your door soon and still leave the house before they gets there, feeling humiliated the whole time that they’ve seen your dirty little secret. You covertly leave their money 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.

What’s the solution to this madness?

  1. Don’t even try to achieve perfection – It is what it is. Why add more stress to your life? You’re doing the best that you can raising your kids, so isn’t that enough? A little dirt and mess never hurt anybody 😉
  2. Accept the reality of your situation – Being a parent and having small children in the house means that there’s going to be mess. There’s no way around it. The key is learning to lower your expectations and standards to a reasonable level where you can stop stressing about the mess but at the same time feel that the situation is not completely out of your control. If you need to call in the troops, by all means do so, but don’t feel compelled to get a cleaner in to meet other peoples expectations.
  3. Maintain perspective – Like everything, this too shall pass. One day, you’ll turn around and your kids will have left the nest. No more mess but no more cuddles either. I’ll take the mess while I can!

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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