Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I think I may have finally resolved one of the major issues in my life: how to keep my house clean enough to enjoy it without undue stress.

Solution: I hired a housecleaning service to come just once a month.

Even with our improved financial situation, I still can't bring myself to hire someone to do the whole job for me.  It's an enormous expense, and I really don't mind the actual cleaning, so it seems like a waste.   But I found a service that will do a decent job for $100.  That is a major bargain here in pork-city (DC).   And that $100 is definitely worth it, because the problem with doing it myself is not really the time it takes, but the stress that it causes.

I have never, ever had a regular housecleaning routine.  I tried really hard a couple of year ago, using a checklist and allowing myself reasonable time frames.  But I still couldn't work up the motivation to keep it up.  Really, I've always just cleaned something when it was dirty enough to bug me.  But that leaves me in the state of always being annoyed at the dirtiness of some part my house, and always feeling like I should be doing more.  It has been a constant source of stress for as long as I can remember.

Now, a bargain once-a-month job is not going to keep my house in a state that doesn't bug me.  We have a child, a dog, and a cat, and you can see the increase in dirtiness on a daily basis around here!  But what that once-a-month cleaning gives me is the knowledge that I'll have a reboot.  If I just can't find the time or motivation to vacuum for that entire month, I know it will be resolved by the maids.  If I just clean the bathrooms for that month because that's what bugs me, I know that I won't also have to squeeze in mopping and dusting and all the rest.  And if I don't touch a thing for the entire month, I won't be left with an even bigger cleaning job.  I'll just have suffered a dirty house for a while, but then I'll get to start over.  This knowledge is all I need to feel totally relaxed about the whole process.

Hopefully I won't raise my cleanliness standards and start getting stressed out again.  I admit that that is a real possibility.  But, for now, this seems to be working.  Hallelujah!


  1. I'm a terrible housekeeper. It's hard enough for me to take the time to clean up my own daily messes, let alone to set aside a few hours each week for a dusting, vacuuming, etc. That was a huge burden for me... and so back when we lived in California, I hired a house cleaner to come every two weeks. I'd do some touch-up cleaning in the off weeks.

    However, once I got seriously busy with graduate school -- and we had the two dogs, two cats, mud from the barn, and so on -- even that off-week clean was more than I could tolerate. And two weeks of mess really piles up.

    So now we have the housecleaners come every week. It's a huge luxury, I know, but wow, I'd so rather have that than a fancy car or jewelry or whatnot. (We do use a really great service -- and they're quite cheap too.)

    I figure that -- as Ellis Wyatt says in the valley -- I'm buying my own time, so that I can spend it doing projects that I love. That's worth the expense!

  2. Diana, that makes me think of a question to ask you on formspring.

  3. Ha, so you were the naughty one! I just answered it.


  4. As I type this, my housekeeper is turning my kitchen from a terrible mess into a clean oasis. We have her come every other week--we used to have a weekly cleaning, like Diana, and it was a wonderful luxury!

    We decided to cut back on that a year ago, though. My favorite thing about having a housekeeper is just what you touched on: it removes the stress I used to feel when I looked at a mess. It was always such a weight on my shoulders to know that I would have to get around to cleaning that up, and it put me in a very bad mood much of the time. It also distracted me from my work; since I work from home, I would get angry and frustrated when walking around my house and seeing messes during the workday and want to clean them up. Now, I can look at them and remind myself that the housekeeper is coming to make everything right in X days.

    I admit I usually don't find the time for an off-week clean, and I probably won't be finding it in the near future with a baby on the way. I just let my house go in between cleanings (to an extent; we try to tidy up nightly and we do wipe kitchen counters a few times a week, but I don't even bother with the dog hair), and if I need a cleaning on an off-week (if I am expecting company, for example), we have agreed that the cost of one extra cleaning is worth the time I'd spend fixing everything up myself.

    I don't even consider it a luxury anymore. There are several line items I'd reduce or totally cut from my budget before I would give up the housekeeper!

  5. PS. I feel the same way about my lawn guy in the summer. What a lifesaver he is.

  6. Tori, you're right that the last thing you'll want to do when you have the baby is to clean. When I had Sam, we were not in a financial position to have any professional cleaning and Adam and I shared the work. But after a month or two of hell, I hired someone twice a month for the first time ever. I didn't care if we went bankrupt!

    I'm so glad someone understands the reboot!