Is it completely dumb to be thankful for something that created more work for me? If it is, so be it: today I am thankful that I fired my cleaning crew(s).
Yes plural. Yes I’ve fired many. It all began a long, long time ago in a land far, far away…
Or about eight years ago when we lived just down the road from where we live now. I was a first time mom and completely overwhelmed. I’d decided to stay at home with my new babe, but just couldn’t figure out how to get it all done. I was physically and mentally exhausted. A friend of ours in the neighborhood lauded her “cleaning lady” and how she did everything and she loved her so. So we crunched some numbers and worked it out. And oh, how she made my house sparkle! She did things to my faucets I didn’t even know were possible. Surely this was the best decision I ever made.
Except… She was at my house like all day. Just me and her and my baby. Awkward. Also? She didn’t speak English and my Spanish is embarrassingly bad. Even more awkward. But I didn’t really know what to do as I couldn’t see how to live without her. I mean the floors had to be super clean, hello: I had a baby that would be crawling on them. I wouldn’t want her to catch a disease that you catch from dirty floors or something.
Right. I know. But the awkwardness resolved itself when we were relocated. And since moving her to California with us wasn’t an option, she was fired.
So in our California house, we just couldn’t swing the extra bucks for a cleaning crew. Also? The house was super small. I could basically touch both ends of the house by stretching out my arms. No I couldn’t, but it was small. A cleaning crew was completely unnecessary because it took like 30 minutes to clean the teeny tiny house and my baby was a toddler so it was a different world. Also she ate a handful of kitty litter when we moved in and didn’t die so I was no longer afraid of diseases-that-you-catch-from-dirty-floors.
Two and a half years later we moved. AGAIN. Because that was our thing for a while. We returned to Houston and returned to a Houston-sized house (more than twice the size of the California house). Also I was six months pregnant when we moved back. BUT I had kept our previous house clean, dammit, so I could clean this new one, too. I didn’t need to hire people.
Except then I had the baby and was exhausted so I did need to hire people.
Enter: The Return of the Awkwardness. It was still weird having people in my house. And? After the first few times their work effort declined. And they moved my stuff around too much. And they were always changing the time they would come or not show up when they said. UGH: Fired.
So I thought I could really do it. I could take care of my house by myself. Sure I had a baby and a preschooler but people do this all. the. time. Why was I so different?
Enter: a shoulder injury. Dangit, I don’t know what I did to myself. I’m sure it was breastfeeding or baby wearing or something that put the strain on my shoulder, but it just became too painful to do everyday things. And so I found myself in the market for a cleaning crew. AGAIN.
“This time will be different,” I told myself. “Work with a person instead of a company,” I said. “It’s going to work this time.”
It did not work.
But at this point? I really was done. With the awkwardness, the tardiness, the last minute changes, the MOVING OF MY STUFF. I just couldn’t take it anymore. And I knew that money could be better spent elsewhere.
What I had really wrestled with from Day 1 of hiring anyone to clean my house was: What message does this send to my children? I’m so mindful of not letting them become spoiled or feel entitled; I didn’t grow up having other people clean my house, I wasn’t sure I wanted that for them.
Having help around the house is a very personal decision and is viewed differently depending on the culture you are raised in. For example, for the people I know from Central America (my husband included) it was/is not at all rare to have some type of assistance. But for me? Growing up in Small Town U.S.A with no extras or luxuries? No. No way. And I think that was a big part of why I felt so awkward about it.
It turned out to be the best decision for me to take my house on myself, despite it’s current state of affairs. Yes, it’s dirty sometimes. A lot of times. But this is not just a house; this is our home. I want to take care of it as an extension of taking care of my family. I want my daughters to take pride in small tasks and naturally step in to help with whatever needs to be done around the house, not leave it and expect it to be taken care of by someone else.
I feel so much more connected to my home now that I am it’s primary caretaker. I am thankful I made that choice. And as we are about to embark on our fifth year in this house — the longest I’ve lived anywhere ever in my life — I know that previously I lacked the roots necessary to feel secure in that choice. I have them now.