I hate cleaning. There. I said it. I know I’m not alone, but for some reason it feels like I’m some kind of failure to admit it out loud. I hated cleaning my room as a kid (it’s just going to get messy again); I find making the bed entirely pointless, although a quick flick of the doona is hardly going to eat into my “me-time”; and anything that requires a spray or a mop or a scrub or a vacuum…. bitch, please!
I remember a good friend once giving me a “how to clean efficiently” book written by some cleaning aficionado or another – I think the gift was meant ironically – but it proved to be quite inspiring and so I thought I would condense what I learned into some handy hints:
1. The first thing you need to do is organise your space into zones. This might be kitchen and bathroom(s), bedrooms, living spaces.
2. The next step is to hire a cleaner – and it must be someone who knows the relevance of those bottles under the sink.
Sometimes we’re faced with particularly challenging cleaning jobs, and here too I have some fast solutions:
- For red wine stains on the carpet, place post-it notes on the offending spots so they’re easily identified by the cleaner.
- To remove dust, dirt and grit from the screen door tracks, let the cleaner know they are filthy (the tracks, not the cleaner!).
- For a gleaming oven, leave a note for the cleaner, specifying the requisite level of gleam.
- To ensure your bathroom sparkles, buy your cleaner the appropriate sparkle-making substances.
- For everything else, vinegar and bicarb soda or maybe it’s cream of tartar. I don’t know …. your cleaner will find them in the cupboard (just don’t let them near the caramelised balsamic).
You get the drift.
But seriously, I used to feel guilty hiring a cleaner, particularly when I was suddenly single (shout out to Brooke Shields!). It seemed like the ultimate indulgence and a fundamental character flaw that I couldn’t manage to keep an apartment tidy when there was only me creating the mess.
I didn’t, however, feel like I could ask my cleaner to stop coming because she was a single mum with a couple of kids, and a few informal jobs like this a week might have meant the difference between paying her bills and not. So she stayed for the next ten years, and when I moved to Ireland, I wondered whether it would be cost effective to bring her with me. ‘Twas not.
Just recently I’ve gone through the trauma of having a fabulous cleaner abandon me. I’ll never understand the youth of today when a 20-something woman prefers to chuck in the insecurity of casual work that requires her to traipse all over Dublin in favour of a full-time medical receptionist position. I mean, seriously, Gen Y, do you think of no-one but yourselves?
So, I considered taking on the responsibility. I mean, I like a challenge. I’m actually quite organised … okay, so even I couldn’t keep up the pretence for more than about 16 seconds. The challenge of moving on without domestic support, nevertheless, led me to reflect on why I’ve been reliant on a cleaner for most of my adult life. It essentially boils down to the fact that I would prefer to spend evenings and weekends with my family (or writing blogs for the Cartel), and not have to lose precious time to cleaning, nagging others to clean or, more likely, being nagged to clean myself!
My biggest fear is something like this happening to me:
For that, I am prepared to forgo the odd luxury or meal out in order to outsource my chores. Indeed, there is no greater luxury than coming home to a perfectly clean and tidy house on a Friday afternoon – just in time for the child to destroy it ten minutes later.
What chores or responsibilities would you like to outsource? If you could hire one person to help around the home, what jobs would you gladly hand over?
P.S. I found a new cleaner within the week. Phew!