Sunday, 23 February 2014

J to J report #6, on the value of Cleaners

No Spend Days this week 2/7; YTD 13/55

I've been debating the value of having a cleaner over the last couple of weeks, given that I'm currently not 'working'. Can we justify the expense when I 'should' be able to get this done in my 'time-off'?

I qualify those words above with single quotes because: 
I am working, or at least I will be again next week, I'm just not in paid employment, I'm studying to change career, to one that will be better for the family long term (and that I want to do as well, I'm neither completely selfish nor a martyr); 
Why 'should' I? I plan all the meals, cook most, and make sure the pantry & fridge are stocked for those meals; organise all the logistics for pretty much every activity undertaken by members of the family; ensure that we maintain contact with family and friends; wash, dry, sort and often put away all the clothes and linen; organise medical, dental and hair appointments for the children; make sure the bills are paid and the house is maintained; communicate with the children's teachers and keep track of their work; volunteer at the school; do most of the planning for any trips we take; make repairs to clothing and other items; organise tradespersons where necessary. I'm sure I could go on.
What 'time-off'? I can always find another job that needs doing. My difficulty is usually getting myself to stop. I have to take myself out of the house so that I won't 'just do that job before I…. stop for a glass of water' (or similar).
Mould, easier to ignore when it is outside and not visible to visitors.
I have come to the conclusion that, for us, having a cleaner (and it's only once a fortnight) is worthwhile, even if I had to go out to work just to afford it, and here's why.

1. I dislike cleaning.
2. I get very tense when I have to operate in a dirty or cluttered environment.
3. I have perfectionist tendencies.

These three points lead to the following scenario.

First, I avoid cleaning. Consequently the dirt in my environment increases. When it reaches a particular level, still far from squalor, my stress levels increase and I get cranky. This crankiness increases because I realise that to reduce the dirt I am going to have to do something I really dislike and actually clean the house. This fight between the need to live in a clean space and the desire not to clean has, in the past, lasted well over a week (before kids of course, the rate at which the dirt accumulates is faster nowadays).
Once I reach tipping point I start cleaning, during which process of course I am extremely cranky, like most people when forced to do something they hate. Then comes the influence of point 3, my perfectionist tendencies. When I start cleaning I struggle to stop, because I keep seeing more that needs to be done. I could spend upwards of three hours cleaning our (very small) bathroom to my satisfaction, because it would mean scrubbing the bath until not only could no grime be seen, but it was completely smooth to touch, the door runners scrubbed with a toothbrush, the walls washed, the top of the cupboard spotless, no rust on the plug hole, the grout white rather than grey - and then I would start to see the repairs and touch ups that were needed.
Then I'll start the next room, which will probably be the kitchen as these are the two rooms in the house where being clean is most important to our health. Can you imagine how long that would take me? A whole day gone, without a break for even a glass of water, and no other 'jobs' done - you got it, I am now cranky beyond all recognition, hating cleaning even more than before, and resenting my family into the bargain.

In contrast, when I have someone in to clean for me, I know that the cleaning tasks essential for maintaining our health, and my sanity, have been done well once a fortnight and that, for the following two weeks I can quickly and simply maintain an acceptable level of cleanliness. If I can stop myself from getting into a lather I can keep the perfectionism at bay and live with what seems to be a relatively normal and socially acceptable level of grime (when I objectively observe my friends' houses). I have even developed the ability to leave the children's beds unmade and lego on the floor and just shut the door (most of the time). I (almost) only get cranky once a fortnight when I try to get my family to help tidy up so our Cleaner can actually clean.

What is your essential, sanity saving expense?


1 comment:

  1. Lunch with Sheldon at our favourite Thai place once a month. We live in a bus/motorhome, so the area I have to clean is minimal, thankfully. I am over housework.