Cleaning dilemma

I’ve always been nothing but honest on this blog, so I have a confession to make. For the last umpteen years, my mum and dad have done my cleaning. Yes, you heard that right. My parents have done my cleaning. Unpaid. And I’m VERY grateful to them.

They didn’t do all of it – just the bathrooms, the kitchen floor and the odd once-over of the hob. Before you judge me as a right lazy cow, look at it from my perspective – I was working three days a week and bringing up three kids, with a husband working very long hours who, rightly or wrongly, is often unable to help me out.

So I was still making the meals and wiping the kitchen down, loading and unloading the dishwasher, changing the beds, doing endless loads of washing, doing the shopping and doing the hoovering. Not to mention getting the kids up and to bed, helping with homework, being a taxi service for their activities, making their packed lunches, taking them to doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, filling in all their letters and cheques for school/ music lessons/ Scouts/ dance lessons, looking after them when they’re ill and generally just being there for them and being a mum.

Believe me, doing all of that for three kids, whilst also working three days a week, really doesn’t leave a lot of time for housework. So I was extremely fortunate that my mum and dad offered to do some of it for me, and that they’d kept it up for so many years.

Bathroom, cleaning, housework

But I don’t go to work any more. I work, but I don’t GO to work. There is a subtle distinction. After all those years, I now have to clean my own bathrooms again.

And I’m sure you can imagine the state of them. Because I don’t have time to do them every week – although I aim for at least every fortnight. With two bathrooms, plus two extra toilets, that’s a lot of work. On top of that other list of stuff I do which hasn’t gone away. Oh, and the small matter of trying to earn money. And as for the kitchen floor? I’ve mopped that twice in the nearly three months since I finished work (although I do hoover it every week).

So I have a dilemma. I need to work and earn money, and I want my house to look reasonably clean and tidy. If I’m cleaning bathrooms, I can’t be earning money. The obvious solution is a cleaner, but flow of the work and money right now isn’t sufficiently reliable for me to take this step. It’s early days and my hourly rate is currently not dissimilar to that of a cleaner. That’s fine while I still have redundancy money to fall back on, but ultimately I need to be on a high enough hourly rate and working sufficient hours a week to afford a cleaner.

Because I would most definitely rather be doing work that interests me and challenges me than scrubbing the toilet.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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17 Comments

  1. I would absolutely love a cleaner. My house is a regular tip and I’m never sure how to get back on top of it all. Could your parents help out monthly maybe? Then you could do fortnightly and they’d make sure you’re not falling behind?

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    • I don’t know! They haven’t offered to help at all since and I don’t like to ask. They’ve done so much for us over the years that they deserve a break. It’s difficult though. I realise I’m coming up for two weeks without cleaning the bathroom again this week and I have less time to do it in as I’m away for Britmums Live.

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  2. I can see how it must be hard getting used to your new working arrangement plus of course, I think when you work from home other people don’t always see it as ‘real’ work so aren’t always as ready to help. To be fair though, it sounds like you were already doing the lions share of the housework. These few jobs would take maybe an hour max if you powered through? Even if it was just a case of setting aside half an hour a couple of times a week, I’m sure you could if you tried.

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    • I probably could, thanks. I just need to be strict with myself, but it’s hard when there are so many conflicting priorities.

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  3. I had a weekly cleaner for 2months after my C section. It was heaven! I so wish I could have afforded to keep her on permanently. If I go back to work I’ll be getting one for sure! Xx

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    • That sounds fab. We have had one briefly in the past, but that’s going back many, many years now.

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  4. You’re not alone, Sarah. I think the way we live life now means that cleaning is at the bottom of most peoople’s lists. In the past, mothers stayed at home and looked after the house and the children. That was considered a job! Now we are expected to do this AND bring in an income. I think it’s not until you start working from home that this become a real issue. You have to work in the mess and can’t escape it. At least in an office you can forget about it for a few hours. But to me it often feels like another thing on my to-do list that’s not getting done! If I’m working nothing gets done as I’m at my desk all day and then can only cook. We had a cleaner once a week for about six months, just before we lost Abi. It was about £20 a week for two hours. It was brilliant as we had the kitchen, lounge and bathrooms cleaned thoroughly in that time (I just used to love having a properly clean shower screen!). But it did become a pain to tidy up for the cleaner to clean, and I found myself wiping things down before she arrived as I was so ashamed of the mess! I stopped it when Abi died and not sure I’d have another, simply because of the constant mess in our house. But, if you’re working then you can’t be cleaning, think about it. You can’t do it all and shouldn’t have to (a man wouldn’t!) as you will start resenting it. I know some good local cleaners if you want to try it out.

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    • Thanks very much. Once I have sufficient clients and work to replicate a salary, I’ll be in touch with you about those cleaners! We did have one about 10 years or so ago briefly, but we got bogged down in the tidying for the cleaner thing too, which my husband particularly resented. I didn’t mind – I was getting my cleaning done!

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  5. Ah so I’m not going to have a tidy house when I work at home then!

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    • Afraid not! If you’re not working, you’ll be focused on looking for work, with no time for cleaning. And if you ARE working there definitely won’t be time for cleaning!

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  6. When I physically could not do everything, every week, I used to write a check list and then tick it off as I went. This meant that each bathroom would be done every other week and the kitchen floor at least once a week. I would do something every day so although it was never all completely clean at once, it felt as though I was accomplishing a little a day. Does that make sense?

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    • `It does. I don’t do it all in one day, but I do all the bathrooms one day, all the hoovering another day and change the beds another day. Shocked that you clean your kitchen floor at least once a week, I feel like a real failure now! To be fair my kitchen floor (and entire kitchen) is horrible, so cleaning wouldn’t really help it!

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  7. I used to have a cleaner when I had a stressful career and didn’t have the time or energy to do this myself. Always loved arriving home on a Thursday to a spotless house – she was worth every penny!

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    • That sounds fabulous, Izzie. I’d love that!

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  8. We had a cleaner until we moved house and upped our bills. I can’t keep on top of mine since either. It gets done in fits and starts when I can, but it only needs a few busy weeks to fall over again. Looking forward to the day when I can afford one again.

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    • Glad it’s not just me who struggles. Hope you can afford one again soon.

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  9. I feel you on this. I work full time, with two kids and a dog who don’t help the state of the house! Each week I have a to-do list, with hoovering 3x, ironing 3x, tidying x3 and kitchen, both bathrooms, dusting and mopping 1x per week on it. I aim for one or two chores a day, and get my 12yr old to do the hoovering most of the time. He is also in charge of dishes, and OH also gets stuck in with ironing and the bathrooms. It doesn’t always all get done but it keeps things ticking over!

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