Monday, February 16, 2015

A Housekeeper is the Most Glorious, Awful Thing


Years ago we had a housekeeper, but the Mister was laid off and cutbacks were necessary. Suburban living: the struggle is real. 

I fantasized of the day I could call Maria and beg her to come back to work her magic. That day finally arrived last year, after I started volunteering in the library and the Mister started traveling more often than not. It was such a blessing. We could now spend the weekend doing "stuff" instead of cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. (I convinced the Mister to get a lawn service.)

We never really did "stuff," but that's neither here nor there. I had more time to run errands and the Mister was able to play outside with the boys. 

The housekeeper thing was really working out. I loved coming home every other Thursday to a clean house without having to lift a finger. It's not like cleaning the house myself, where every day there is something for me to do. It's never top-to-bottom clean. 

Then, just 10 days ago, the unthinkable happened: Maria fired us.

We got fired! I can at least give her credit for doing it over the phone. She could have sent us a breakup-text. She found a bigger and better house to clean.


I'll show her, I thought. Our house will be twice as clean! The cleanest! Our house will be so clean generations of families will be talking about it for centuries to come. But only after a quick stop at Target to pick up some cleaning supplies since I stopped buying them a year ago.

I started in the guest bedroom, intent on blazing through there since it sits empty. Instead, I opened the door to what had become a dumping ground. Drum kit, old toys, a closet filled with blankets and pillows, and a two cluttered desks.

Well, I thought, might as well clean the room the right way.

Two hours later. 

I had a drum instructor scheduled to pick up the drum kit that evening. I went through most of the toys. I completely ignored the chaos of blankets and pillows in the closet, but did change out the sheets and wash all the bedding. I started in on the cluttered desk and bookshelves, only to realize that some of the papers Mikey had stacked on his desk were from the 3rd grade. I found Easter Bunny pictures he took with Nico at school. I have no idea what year since the date isn't on the picture.

I found some books that were missing and all of my Sharpies.


I also found this little nugget of wisdom. A housekeeper is a terrible idea if you want to create and maintain a clutter-free, intentional home.  

Maria didn't put things away for us, but she did stack things in neat piles. I told her not to put away the toys for the boys, but to put everything in a bucket so they could put it away themselves. I only went through the (very neat) piles occasionally and the boys never put away their toys. The guest bedroom became a dumping ground because I never had to see it unless I was adding to the pile. 

I realized during those two hours of cleaning that I didn't lose steam in the William Morris Project. I didn't have proper motivation to keep up with the William Morris Project. It's easy to ignore clutter, failed systems, and too much of what you don't need when you don't have to face what you're doing wrong--or not doing. An organized, clutter-free home takes a lot of hands-on work. It can't be avoided. So I'm not. Avoiding the dirty work, that is.

Baby steps. I may not be ready to tackle large, weekly projects again, but I'm ready to tackle my own clutter one homework pile at a time.

15 comments:

  1. Dang it, I did not want to hear that! I have fantasies of hiring someone to come in and do the cleaning (the real cleaning of bathrooms, floors, etc.) to free up time to do the de-cluttering/maintenance/projects since I seem to be able to focus on one or the other. Hmmmm..........

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    1. SIGH. That's exactly what I thought would happen. And I even tried to convince myself of it again this morning as I looked at floors that need to be washed. UGH.

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  2. I've always wanted a cleaning lady, but then I heard about folks have to clean before the cleaning lady came. Thanks for the reality check.

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  3. Check out The life-changing magic of tidying up, by Marie Kondo. I have really found it to be life changing.

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    1. I keep hearing about that book. I have to check it out!

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  4. That is really helpful to know. With twins on the way and both of us working outside the home, I've considered hiring someone to dust and keep the floors and bathrooms clean. (The pet hair always wins, and bathrooms are always bathrooms.) I hadn't thought about the detriment to our systems, though. Things to think about!

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    1. Twins!! Help is always great at the beginning. You may not even have time to mop the floor, let alone worry about systems!

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    2. My mother-in-law got me a weekly house cleaner for six months after each of my children were born. It was THE BEST GIFT EVER. Having someone to mop the floor and scour the toilet was a life saver.

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  5. Hooray for the return of William Morris! Can we do linkies, again, pretty please?

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    1. Oh, gosh...I have so few people reading now that it would be embarrassing to do a link up!

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  6. It's funny - I'm the exact opposite of you here. We had to get rid of our cleaning service when we replaced Jesse's car two years ahead of schedule and ended up with a car payment. I can't wait to pay that bad boy off and hire them back. They only did the cleaning so I spent the day before straightening and organizing and I was SO much better about purging things then because I didn't have to split my time between organizing and cleaning. I think it might be different if I was working because I wouldn't have a day to straighten and organize beforehand but I find I have a much greater number of stacks now. Only one more year left!

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    1. Technically I have two days: Saturday and Sunday. But who wants to organize on the weekend when you can be reading a book? :)

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  7. Check out a book called Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell. It's a great system for hitting all that stuff that does well being done on a weekly basis. Basically you are being the housecleaner and powering through it all at once. It's fast - I used to do our old house (2400 square feet) in under 45 minutes.

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    1. Hmmm. My house is 1800 sq feet, so it's something to consider!!

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