I have tried a number of times in my adult life to hire a cleaning service. I believe the exact number is four. In general, the cleaning services have been quite good. I especially loved the times that they cleaned my home while I was away, and were finished and gone by the time I returned. It’s a miraculous thing to walk into a perfectly clean, fresh-smelling home.
The problem has always been with me: I can’t justify it. Yes, I am employed both inside the home (writing and editing, plus a bit of cosmetic and jewelry sales) as well as outside the home (teaching high school literature, part-time). Yes, I also home school my daughters. So my husband regularly tells me that I have every reason to need a little help around the house (which, in case you’re wondering, he is quite good at providing).
But I can’t stomach it. It’s not even the money, really. Somehow, I just feel like I’m cheating. Like I’m getting someone else to do my science project or my history paper that I know darn well I could handle if I’d just manage my time a bit better.
Recently, though, I decided to give it another shot. We moved in late June, and although I didn’t announce it to the blogosphere, my husband was out of town for six of the last eight weeks–missing, in essence, the packing, most of the moving, and the unpacking. (The travel was for work and was unavoidable, and he’s been going like gangbusters to make up for lost time since he returned.) I found myself getting weary and cranky long about the seventh week, and coming dangerously close to resolving that perpetually living out of cardboard boxes wasn’t such a horrible thing. So, to give myself some incentive, I scheduled a cleaning service. The incentive worked: I finished unpacking within four days of making the call.
But now she’s here. In fact, she’s been here for just shy of five hours, and by my estimation, she’s only halfway finished. Our house is big, but not that big (2600 feet), and I really don’t think it was that dirty. Is she extremely thorough, for which I should be grateful? Is it quiet back in my bathroom because she’s scrubbing grout with a toothbrush? Or because she’s nosing through my medicine cabinet? I don’t want to be untrusting. But I really can’t figure out what’s taking so long. I’ve cleaned an entire house, top to bottom, lampshades included, in four hours. And I’m thorough.
I just don’t think I’m cut out for this. I have an incredible urge to run down there with a sponge and help her out.
(Can you tell I’m paying her by the hour?) (Okay, it’s a little bit about the money.)
UPDATE: I’m stunned. The woman finished in just under six hours, and the house is crazy clean. In fact, the toilets that I was sure I would have to replace–because I couldn’t for the life of me get the hard water stains off–are like new! Apparently, pumice stone and elbow grease are the key. They are probably also the explanation for how long she was in my bathroom. I am ashamed. I’m still not sure I could do this on a regular basis, though. We’ll see.