Be warned. You are about to experience the most epic, offensive first world whining you have ever head. But here goes.
Over the past year I’ve bumped up my work schedule quite a bit, and it’s been harder and harder to maintain my house. I’ve been a working mom still doing all of the stay-at-home-mom duties, and a couple months ago had a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself where I acknowledged that I’m going to have to outsource some of my daily tasks in order to a) sleep, and b) stay sane. I had previously had a housekeeper coming once a month, and I decided to hire her to come once a week. I felt like this was a good decision, because I just can’t keep up with keeping things clean at the level I’d like. I really wanted to be able to have one day where I could just focus on work and not worry about the state of the house.
So, I scheduled the housekeeper to come every week on Tuesday, anticipating how this would alleviate so much stress for me. Except that it actually did the opposite. My housekeeper is fast and effective, but she does not pick up and “put back”. She comes through like a cleaning hurricane, and just piles anything in her path. If there are stray toys, they will be shoved in the nearest bin. If there are clothes on the bed, they will be shoved in the hamper. If there is a stray bill or piece of paper laying out, it will be shoved in a drawer or on the nearest pile. If I am not on top of it, I will come home to a clean house with piles of our unsorted junk in every room.
Now, while I am not the most organized person, I aspire to be organized – and willy-nilly unsorted piles make me anxious. I like things to be in their place. My kids have never had a toybox where random toys are thrown. *shudder* Each toy is in a labeled drawer with other “like” toys. Barbies and Star Wars figures, thrown together with abandon? NOT ON MY WATCH. The idea of Strawberry Shortcake in the Legos bin makes me twitchy. The problem with this is that picking up toys is a bit more complicated, because it’s not a sweep and dump kind of affair. My kids know where things belong, but my housekeeper doesn’t – and I don’t think she’s interested in finding out. As a result, I always feel a lot of pressure to have everything put away in it’s place before she arrives.
The problem with this is that getting everything in my house put away in it’s proper place? This requires a DEFCON 5 level of attention, and even if this lofty goal is met, it’s pretty much impossible to maintain for more than ten minutes. Because you never know when Karis might decide to dump every costume on the floor in search of a doll.
Some variation of this level of destruction is pretty much happening every five minutes.
So, back to Tuesdays. What I thought would be a splurge in terms of having someone else clean my house has, in fact, just become a completely stressful deadline each week. I am no fun at all on Tuesday mornings now. I’m just a militant cleaning drill sergeant. It’s pretty much the opposite of what I thought it would be. And while the older kids can at least help, Karis is upending things as quickly as the rest of us can put them back.
Mark has mocked me over this need to clean before having the house cleaned, but then for two weeks I just left everything as it was before she came, as a test to see what would happen. And just like I warned him . . . in two weeks’ time, the piles had grown in every room to a point that was nearing an episode of Hoarders. My house needs to be cleaned, yes. But more than anything, things need to be put away. And I think what I’m realizing is that what I really want is one day when someone else does the mindless putting away for me. Of toys. Of laundry. Of papers. Of costume changes. Of junk.
So . . . how do I solve my Tuesday problem? Do I ask my housekeeper if I can pay her extra to pick up BEFORE she cleans? Or do I hire someone else to do this organizing/picking-up part, given the fact that this doesn’t seem to be in my housekeepers “gift mix”? (She’s fast and efficient at the cleaning stuff, but has also been known to throw credit cards in toy bins . . . sorting isn’t really her thing). One thing I know is this: I cannot maintain this weekly picking up of the entire house deadline. It felt like less work before I hired the housekeeper. However, hiring someone to pick up before the housekeeper seems ridiculous. But maybe necessary.