Friday, November 18, 2011

The Undomestic Goddess Confessions: Cleaning Service Edition

An irregular series in which I air my dirty domestic laundry - sometimes literally - in the hopes of .  . . of . . . I'm not exactly sure what, but it's likely one of three things: (a) publicly shaming myself into doing better wife- and mom-wise; (b) dragging y'all down with me into the anti-Martha morass; or (c) complaining, because it's fun.

While going about my stay-at-home-mom business this fine fall morning, I stumbled upon a scene reminiscent of Miss AP's recent, hilarious post about her attempt to hire a housecleaner and some passive-aggressive, "You're a stay-at-home-mom, surely you have all the time in the world to clean?" feedback she received:

Book Nerd Note: yes, despite the nursery location, some of these books are mine. Master P isn't quite up to Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" yet, but I figure we'll start on that once he breezes through Dickens next month.
By "stumbled" I mean exactly that - in the maybe two minutes I was putting up clean clothes in Master P's closet, just to the right of the scene you see here, Master P had managed to create that literary heap. Lest you think I could simply re-shelve those books there & then, that isn't part of the toddler game - the minute Mama starts putting them up, the wee CEO giggles with delight in throwing them down again.

I'm nothing if not crafty (in the diabolical, not scrapbook-y, sense), so I waited until Master P was safely distracted with his puzzles in the living room before attempting to tidy the nursery. While I was doing that, a box of cereal I thought I'd put away materialized, and this happened:

Note the Life cereal pixie toddler dust strewn about.

I'm so happy to have invested in that fancy red Pottery Barn Kids chair, which has served nicely as a dogbed and toddler means of scaling the TV cabinet.
Of course. The wee CEO enjoyed "helping me" sweep up that mess - picture me appearing with a broom, only to have it immediately seized and waved triumphantly in the air by a certain someone - whereupon I gave up the cleaning attempts and joined him with the puzzles.

This all ties in nicely to my Liposuction Theory of Housecleaning, which tells us that whenever one household mess is eliminated another one inevitably follows. Add a toddler to that mix, and it's a dilemma no Martha nor plastic surgeon has solved.

Suffice to say, this whole "keeping house" thing of the "housewife" gig isn't quite as simple as it may sound. Yes, absolutely, I can and do complete a few basics most days - now that Master P's no longer a newborn, I hasten to add, when all cleaning bets were off. While Master P is up, I try to make the bed, get marginally edible meals on the table, sweep and tidy messes as feasible, and throw some laundry in.

While the CEO naps - usually for 1 hour, on rare, glorious occasion for 2-3 - I try to shower, pay bills, do whatever household chores he won't let me do while he's up (dishes, mostly - otherwise, he makes a dive for the knives as soon as I open the washer) and that won't wake him up (in our small house, that eliminates the vacuum and Shark mop), and, yes, email and noodle around here. I took a lunchtime break while working outside of the home, and I try to do so now while I'm working in it too.

Admittedly, the heavy duty cleaning falls to my twice-monthly housekeeping service, a big privilege for which I'm utterly grateful - and make no apology. It allows me to put down the broom during the day and just enjoy Master P, especially when he's having a week, like this one, when he's in "All Mom All the Time mode" and creates stuff like book piles when left alone. It allows me to enjoy time with the Anonymous Husband on the nights he's able to be home for dinner; once Master P is snoozing, the dishes are done, and the toys are put away (all things the AH helps with, I gratefully add), we're able to relax versus my rushing around trying to deep clean.

I hope this doesn't come across as a braggy, "I have a maid!" sort of Trophy Wife thing, which of course isn't at all what I mean. I get that it's a privilege, one I could certainly do without, though I'd really, REALLY prefer to cut other expenses before this one (and have, by the way). My hat - a big, Kentucky Derby-style number - is seriously off to those of you who manage kids and cleaning house and/or a job AND a spouse-type all by yourself. I'm tired just typing that. Truly.

This is merely an admission that I don't feel I can do a good job juggling all the child-rearing and housekeeping AND husband caring myself, that I'm hugely appreciative of the household help I do have - and I'm a bit puzzled by those who would question that. If by budget or by preference household help isn't for you, fine, but why snark at those for whom it is?

At risk of making this the "Moms, Let's Just Get Along and Stop Judging One Another" blog, can't we just all admit we're doing our best and try to hold off judgment on others? How we run our respective households is a deeply personal, private business - yes, it's one I'm publicly delving into a tad here, but we can't possibly know the details of one another's every little circumstance. Motherhood - or keeping house - isn't a competition. It just isn't.

Let's reserve our Mommy Mafia Judgment for where it truly can help, say, with city governments issuing offensive, co-sleeping baby killer ads, shall we? Can I get an "AMEN"?


Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

I have a cleaning service that comes in twice a month, and I never write about it on the blog, because I know that will bring out the "why do you need a maid if you are home all day" holier than thou Judgey McJudgersons (kind of like when I have written about problems finding a babysitter).

As long as I'm admitting this shameful practice, I will go even further with a first world problem and note that although I have bought all these "green" cleaners because Clorox gives me a headache, the damn maids refuse to use them because they "don't clean as well" and they DUMP THEM OUT, and refill them with their unholy mix of watered Clorox and Mr. Clean. Thereby making my house reek of Clorox and giving me a headache every time they come. I run around opening windows while they are here to let out the smell, and they run around closing the windows 2 seconds later.

I know, I know, first world problems.

Its my dream to have them come once a week. I like having hardwood floors but they are filthy, esp this time of year.

Carly Anne said...

If ever it becomes reasonable financially for us to hire a cleaning service, I'll be on that like white of rice - to the chagrin of plenty, I'm sure.

Erin said...


It is an ongoing job just THINKING about getting the house to be clean. I think everyone has their own ways of keeping a household. It's certainly not our place to judge. Especially since my house currently looks like a tornado went through it! HA!

Ashley Paige said...

I could kiss you on the mouth... And I would.. if well, it wasn't socially acceptable and looked down upon. And well, we don't really know each other. As always, love this! And absolutely laughed out loud at the image of the broom-wielding toddler. C's favorite jousting stick? The Bona floor mop.

Mrs. Type A said...

I'm going to venture a guess that the judgey mcjudgersons are either 1) just needlessly mean, or 2) genuinely either have a job or stay at home and can't afford help and therefore have to spend their "me" time and their "couple" time doing the deep cleaning or, their house is just dirtier than they would want. It's definitely not cool to judge anyone's situation, but maybe it's coming from jealousy?

Mel said...

I'm discovering that more and more of our friends have a cleaning service. We don't have kids, but we're both professionals who work long hours and neither one of us wants to waste time cleaning on the weekends. I predict, once we have kids, we'll keep the service -- more time to spend with the kiddos!

Chas said...

A-men mama! I spend my "me time" and some of my "couple time" doing the deep cleaning and my house is still dirtier than I'd like it to be, yet I can't imagine harboring resentfulness against anyone (SAH or working) who hires cleaning help. I've had my own cleaning lady ever since I graduated college, this is my first time without one. I'm a bit apathetic right now on whether or not I'll be outsourcing chores in the future. Right now, it is manageable since Little G isn't mobile and the house is "clean enough". Even though MP made huge little messes, it's adorable...don't you kind of laugh inside when he gets into things just like that? (I do get annoyed though, at my SAHM friends who have cleaning people + a nanny and still complain about not being able to get things done.)

Anonymous said...

I finally hired someone too. I just couldn't keep up anymore...never mind getting ahead and doing some real cleaning. My hubby also works very late most nights so all the housecleaning lands on my shoulders and I would find myself stressing allll the time because the house was falling apart and I couldn't do anything about it. Not to mention, my kiddo is a complete tornado! Since we've hired help, I even notice my little guy is happier since I can actually pay more attention to him, and I'm happier since I'm less stressed. For us, it was the best decision...and I also would rather cut back on other spending than to eliminate this service right now. I think it also depends on the kind of child you have. Friends of mine have fairly calm toddlers that play by themselves, never cry, don't make major disasters, and they say keeping the house is feasable for them. For me, it's not. I can't take my eyes of my little monster for one tiny second...housework is just impossible. To each their own, but for me, getting help was a necessity.

BeeBeeZfa said...

I probably won't be a SAHM (and deal with the judgement that comes with that) but my mom was and I can honestly say it is an ENDLESS job. Even when I am just home for a few months I start realizing how cyclical and unending it is, and I don't even have any children. And yes, eventually she gave in and got a house keeper too. She was a much happier mama to be around after that. I will forever be in awe of SAHM!

The Shabby Princess said...

Ok, so, I've been cleaning my house since 8:30AM. It is now almost 4PM. And, I swear, it wasn't THAT messy. Maybe I'm just in denial. See also: why family SHOULD NOT come to my house for Thanksgiving and we should just go to In N Out. I've lost that battle, and there's a whole group en route from the mighty Pacific. Help.

Legally Fabulous said...

I have a housekeeper. I was just going to have them come once before my parents came in town and then I saw that my glass shower doors were streak free for the first time in the 4+ years that I've lived in my home and I decided it would become a regular thing. (SERIOUSLY I TRIED EVERYTHING. VINEGAR. CLR. EVERY SHOWER DOOR SCRUBBER YOU CAN BUY AT BED BATH & BEYOND AND ONLINE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS WOMAN USES BUT IT'S A MODERN MIRACLE)

Legally Fabulous said...

Also it's 9:00 on Saturday night and I'm leaving blog comments about my clean shower door. OMG one full week of working and this is my life now?

LPC said...

When my second child was born, my mother came to visit. Shortly thereafter she stood in the hall and said to me, "Dear, would you be terribly offended if your birthday present this year were a cleaning person? Starting now?" My birthday was almost 6 months away:). I said to my mother, "ARE YOU KIDDING? I'd love it." And so our house was cleaned by a woman named Cecelia, for years and years and years. I felt no shame whatsoever, just gratitude at my good fortune.

[darci @ the good life] said...


I must say, at least [at the verrryyy least] once a week I say the words "Oh, how I miss our housekeeper...FOR THE LOVE...I miss her!". She used to pay our casa a visit every other week and I took it for granted. Up until 3 months postpartum, I hadn't scrubbed a toilet in over 6 years. So, yah, this heavy duty cleaning business is for the birds and truly takes a full day to "deep clean" a home.

Can't I just try new recipes off of Pinterest, meet my mom friends for playdates, love on the mini, decorate this biotch [the house], pretend I'm wearing yoga pants again today because I just worked out [like I pretend to do every morning?] and blog? I thought that's what I was signing up for?

;) I'm kidding - kind of. Kind of not at all. The cleaning part is the ONLY aspect I am not loving. But, I'll scrub some toilets, floors, bathtubs and take out the trash like it's nobody's business if that means I get to spend most all of my days with my main man. :)

Send your cleaning lady my way... tell her I'm super nice and will chat her ear off. ;) You go girl - glad you are able to have the help!!!!!

The Preppy Princess said...

Non, non,non on shame! You are so not the braggadocious (sp?) sort, we all know that! I love Master P's way wit books, he is nothing if not a tot of action.

Smiles at you!

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