Friday, October 22, 2010

A confession, of sorts

I’m nearly sloth like about maintaining this blog. So folks don’t think it’s gone totally dormant, a post!

I am totally a wannabe domestic goddess. It may not look like it, but I’ve been told I’m a pretty good actress. My kitchen floor is sticky. Dust bunnies roam the house in search of vigilante justice. Tori the cat lives in fear. J describes the living room as filled with “rubble.” And Mount Laundry? Only the bravest souls attempt to conquer it.

Since I work full time, have three kids, two dogs, a cat and a husband I don’t want to (and obviously) don’t spend my days tending the house. I felt like I was losing a battle in the house, not spending the type of time I wanted with the kids or J. I certainly felt guilty when I would to take some “me” time.

I count coup on days I toss something in the crock pot or remember to put in a load of laundry in the washer in the morning and put it in the dryer in the evening. More than once I’ve opened the lid and realized there’s a load of fragrant towels waiting for the dryer.

I also have things I want to do in life – knit, spin, play in the garden and help my kids explore the world.

Where we live it is expectation that the mothers take on the bulk of child rearing, all or nearly all of the cooking and the vast majority of housekeeping. Working moms I know say “I’d love you to come over for lunch, but the house is such a mess.” In reality, they’re busy, they do the dishes after supper and they yell to have the kids pick up the living room. When they collapse at the end of the day they are too tired to mess with the stray Legos on the carpet or the cat fur on the back of the couch. They are like me.

At our Mount Olympus, J does half (at least) of the cooking and cleaning around the house. He’s just as integral to the family routine and caring for the kids (Most nights they’d rather have dad do baths).

We were both tired of keeping up with the illusion. No more smoke and mirrors at our Mt. Olympus. Something had to give.

I’m admitting it here, so to not insult mothers out there trying to work, raise a family and keep the health department from condemning the house.

We hired a cleaning lady.

I’ll call her Alice, in honor of Alice from the Brady Bunch. I’m sure Alice is all that kept Mrs. Brady from ringing the neck of her six wonderful and charming children/step children every time she needed to change the bedding – eight beds!

My Alice comes every two weeks. She sweeps, mops, vacuums, dusts, changes the sheets on the beds, cleans the bathroom, does a few loads of laundry, cleans my fridge out and any other stuff she sees that needs to be done. She’s been to our house three times.

I admit I actually jumped for joy and “squee-d” when I went upstairs the first time and saw the reflection of my kids playing in their room on their door – it was that clean and sparkly. My 50+ year old linoleum in my kitchen was so reflective. Alice she even scraped off the Mickey Mouse sticker that was adhered to the floor, it blended in so well that I left it. It was a great way to distract the kids when I was cooking "Quick! Find Mickey!" See, again with the faking.

Most weeks she spends nearly eight hours at my house and it works out to about $75 a time. On the evening she comes, I pause, take a deep breath and realize I’ve spent that kind of money before and not received that type of enjoyment or peace of mind.

The kids love it when Alice comes because she brings a baked treat of some kind – as she says, most husbands think that the wives should be able to keep up with the house, the wives think they need help. The fastest way to when the men over is by leaving a home-baked treat each time.

We are not a family that cleans before the cleaning lady comes. But I am ruthless about making sure things are put away where they belong. I’ve learned there is a distinct difference between “cleaning” and “de-cluttering.”

Surprisingly, J – one of the biggest culprits – and the kids are getting used to making sure if you get it out, it gets put back where it came from. Each time before Alice comes there is less and less that I feel that needs to be done. Thus, the house remains less cluttered, cleaner and my stress levels are reduced.

What’s the best part? I don’t feel like I have to spend Saturday cleaning, squeezing in something fun with the kids and then having to stay up late to do spend time with J or do something by myself. Now the house is clean, we can do fun stuff in the morning and when the kids nap, I do what I want guilt free.

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