I hired a cleaning lady. So what?

11 Feb

Almost exactly a year ago, my boyfriend and I moved into a house that we bought together. I knew full well about all the responsibility and the work that comes with being a homeowner. Back then, I had visions of a perfectly kept and maintained house, believing that with the pride you take in keeping your own home comes the ease in maintaining it. Naturally, right? Back then, I was up for the challenge of being at long last, a grown-up homeowner and being a good, responsible one at that. The day that we took possession of the house, I busted through the door with my mop, my scrubbers and my cleaning powders and liquids and I cleaned. Cleaned, cleaned and CLEANED to set this precedent and establish our home as a nice and neat place to live. It was very soon after that I had established this routine. Clean the bathrooms (2.5 of them) one weekend, and then do the entire lower lever the next. BF would take care of the upper level on Mondays – he has these days off. This was all done happily earnestly because nothing is worse to me than having an untidy house. Then the fights started, about the unfair division of work and the extreme burden of having much of my free time taken up by keeping house. I started to resent my life and my house, feeling like I was going from one job at work to another job at home. To this neverending cycle of wiping, laundering, folding, scrubbing, dusting, tidying, vacuuming, mopping etc etc. And I know that this is what it means to be a responsible grown up. It never even occured to me to ask for hire help, until this one time I was having a chat with someone at work and she suggested I look into a cleaning service. I immediately rebuked this notion, worrying that this would mark me as inadequate, or even worse, lazy.

“No, it’s not about adequacy, it’s about balance and quality of life.” She said.

I work downtown at a creative agency, and it’s not the type of job where you can leave as soon as the clock hits 5:00, not even if it’s to take the early train home. I live in the suburbs, and I’m lucky if I get home before 7:30/8. Once we’ve cooked/eaten dinner, cleaned up, I’m able to have about an hour of downtime and then before I know it, I’m falling asleep while watching Cold Case. Then we’re up again and leaving for work in the morning at 7:30. That’s at least twelve hours of the day that aren’t mine. When the weekends finally come, it is pretty much errands and cleaning. Also, my BF’s work week is Tuesday to Saturday, which means that we don’t get to enjoy a full weekend together ever, because Sunday is the only day that we can share together. Sundays are precious to me for this reason, and I don’t find it all that stimulating or sexy when he is pushing a vacuum around while I’m down on my knees disinfecting one of the toilets. Not quality time at all. There was very little “me-time,” and even less “us-time.”

We did think long and hard on this. I feared being judged for being lazy, or being accused of simply not wanting to do the work to clean my own house. After all, our moms were able to do it back then. My mom worked full time, managed to clean the house and raise 3 kids. But, then again, she only went back to working full time after I turned 11 and her job was a 5-10 minute drive from home. Not that I have it harder than she did – I don’t have kids, but she did spend more time at home than I do. I’m convinced that we are working longer hours now compared to back then. I think that a sign of the times are the number of nannies, dog-walkers and cleaning ladies that are busy working around the city these days, not to mention companies like Supper Works and Grocery Gateway for those who barely have time to shop for their food or prepare their own dinners at home .

Still, paying someone my hard-earned money to do something that I am perfectly able to do myself? Who do I think I am? When did I move onto Wisteria Lane? The service is a luxury, having a stranger come and clean my house for me. However, my time – my own time – has become more of an important luxury that I’ve had to reclaim, and I am no longer going to be embarrassed to say so.

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3 Responses to “I hired a cleaning lady. So what?”

  1. Leesh February 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    I don’t blame you for hiring a cleaning lady. You get home so late and with you and your BF only getting to spend Sundays together, you might as well get someone to do the dirty work.

    I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to clean a house…I just have a one bedroom + den and it tires me out.

  2. kat February 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    you need to add widgets so i can subscribe to your blog!

  3. Angie March 12, 2010 at 1:25 am #

    Sometimes there is just more stuff to do than clean house… wait til you have kids, who you want to take to the park, programs, playdates add that to work, a marriage you want to keep HAPPY… hiring a cleaning service sounds like something that needs to get done for sanity purposes.

    And anyways… happy wife (female keeping household) equals happy life.

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