Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cinderella and the Fairy House-Cleaner

I've had a plan in my head for a good few months now. A housework plan. It's Plan B. Plan A was when I bought this book and thought I could keep the place sweet by doing 15 minutes a day, but it turned out that I prefer to have one really good bang at it and get it over and done with. In one hit rather than making house-cleaning some kind of never-ending treadmill, every day of my life - on top of all the cooking and tidying and laundry and shopping as well. However. Those big cleaning blitzes? They've gradually become further and further apart as I've progressively lost interest in cleaning. I like living in a clean house but I resent actually doing the cleaning.

Anyway. Plan B was me thinking that I could use some of the money I make from teaching tap to pay a cleaning lady once a fortnight. Classes are going well and business is expanding and paying someone for 2 hours a fortnight would probably not cost more than, say, Fixit buying 2 coffees a day. Which he does.

I've pondered it of course. Mostly in a wouldn't it be fantastic to not have to clean the toilet? sort of way, admittedly. But also in a can I justify this when (i) I am a stay-at-home mother so if I were to use my time efficiently I wouldn't need to do this and (ii) this is a luxury and we aren't really in a financial position to bear luxuries and (iii) I would probably object if Fixit suddenly decided he wanted to outsource the lawn-mowing.

I answered myself with this sort of stuff:
...staying at home is about looking after the kids, not about cleaning the house. No-one needed to Stay Home and Do Cleaning before we had the babies. Before Children the cleaning was seen as something we both did. Now, even though I'm child-wrangling, volunteering at both Climber's school and Cherub's crèche, teaching 9 classes of tap a week and doing the admin involved with having my own business, doing ALL the cooking, doing ALL the grocery shopping and 80% of the laundry, even with all of that, somehow the house-cleaning falls in my To-Be-Done tray. Despite the fact that the labour involved has trebled since the advent of kids into the domestic scene. Not to mention the mound of stuff jibbering away behind the door of the Spare Room, which should be sorted; there's this tone Fixit gets when he mentions this which stems from his space (the shed) being organised to within an inch of its life and my space (the house) being a whole lot of cardboard boxes filled with god-knows-what stacked up in a darkened room with a pretty cloth thrown over the top. (Oh and also his conviction that blogging has taken over my life to the detriment of the household but that's a separate issue.)

To be honest, in answer to my doubts (i) yes, I could get it all done if I lifted my game (ii) yes, luxuries are out if we ever want to think about getting a mortgage and (iii) yes, I probably would think Fixit was frittering away Our Money if he hired Jim's Mowing.

But. My little dream persists. For all sorts of reasons.
  • It's my money, after all. (Unlike the grass-cutting money which would be our money.)
  • Business is looking up.
  • I'm domestically lazy.
  • I prefer doing stuff like reading or blogging to cleaning.
  • With the Family Allowance and my tap earnings, I pay for all household expenses and extras, so I'm putting in financially and domestically.
  • Even if we cut out all luxuries, we probably still couldn't get a mortgage in the current housing crisis in Australia.
  • If kitty-cats and motorbikes are okay then why not this?
  • I would -theoretically- have more energy to look at the junk in the back room.
  • I would be happier.
  • The house would be nicer.
As you can see, I've talked myself into it. It all sounds perfectly fair to me. And then on the car-trip to Canberra I blithely announced my intentions to Fixit, thinking he would be pleased to know that the house would be regularly nice again and that I would be happier with more time to sort out crap etc., and I am sorry to report that I received a Very Negative Response. You know, based along the lines of (i) (ii) and (iii). (That always makes it worse, doesn't it, when you know the other person's objections are grounded in truths?) But I was so gobsmacked and so angry that my stomach started burning from just ... acid.... and even if we hadn't been in a confined space with the kids I don't think I could have coherently argued my corner. So I spluttered a bit and didn't mention it again.

So we were at a bit of an impasse, and, true to form, neither of us was bringing it up to discuss it. You could be forgiven for wondering who would emerge happy from this lack of seeing-eye-to-eyeness ?

Well, as far as I'm concerned, Plan B is alive and well. I got the number of the cleaning lady today so if I was a horse the knowing ones would be backing me.


  1. This reminds me of when my Mum had a cleaner but told us never to tell a certain friend of hers, who would think it the height of slovenliness and laziness, since Mum only worked part time and could clearly clean the house herself. Haha! Lucky for me she didn't just make her lazy daughters do it.

    Can you not justify it as something YOU are paying for with over and above, eg. tap classes 8 & 9 pay for the cleaner, so if you dropped back below that you'd give the cleaner up? And I'm talking justify it to yourself, not Fixit. Since clearly you are doing most of the beating up :)

  2. Well, this SAH mom is firmly in your corner. Can you talk Fixit into a trial run? Maybe give it a go for 6 weeks or so and see how much HAPPIER you are and how much OTHER stuff you're able to get done without the housework weighing on you? (And, that'll give you both a chance to see how the financials work out?)

    Really, if he's not willing to at least give it a TRY then he's just being a stubborn git and you have every right to throw the motorbike back in his face. Repeatedly. And literally.

  3. EXACTLY what Badger said.

    We have a cleaner who comes in once every two weeks. She does a deep-clean like you mentioned.

    It is my job to PICK UP the house. It is her job to CLEAN the floors, the tub, the toilet, run a few loads of laundry and plump the pillows.

    I haven't seen my workload drop a LOT because picking up is still the main thing around here, but I bless every single stinking day she's here. Walking into a spanking-clean house that you haven't been on-your-knees doing? Priceless.

    Good luck! I think everyone should have a bit of back-up in that area, and it's mean of Fixit not to consider it!

  4. I had a cleaning meltdown Saturday. Literally in tears, sobbing so hard I couldn't speak and had to write down my issues so Rob could figure out what was wrong. We now have a chart.... I wrote down EVERY SINGLE THING I do so he could really appreciate how much is involved. And I mean everything! I think if you really express to Fixit how important this is to you and how very much you do to make Chez Fixit work, he would be glad to accept Plan B. And if not, I will fly to Australia and put sugar in the fuel tank of his pretty new motorbike.

  5. Stomper, I'm barely suppressing a stream of profanity. This isn't intended as a criticism of Fixit or even men in general, just that I'm very familiar with the frustration that comes with trying to do it all. Sometimes it's very, very hard for those who aren't on the spot to understand exactly what it's like.

    I cleaned the house thoroughly last week. Within two days, it looked as though the Nazis had dropped bombs on it. I can't keep my #@$% house clean and I only have ONE child and I'm NOT teaching classes or doing many of the other things that you are. I think you've thought this matter through very well. You've looked at it realistically and from both sides. You've tried to be fair. Now - are other people being fair in return?

    By the way - I really doubt you're domestically lazy. It just doesn't make much sense to knock yourself out cleaning constantly when kids are so young that they'll generate dirt again instantly. Also, reading and blogging are cheap or free, unlike some other activities one could list. You have to have some "down" time to keep your energy levels up.

  6. No-one needed to Stay Home and Do Cleaning before we had the babies

    Bingo. That does it for me when you put it that way, especially since it magically and mysteriously all falls to you, the SAH Parent, once the babies arrived.

    So once a fortnight cleaning sounds reasonable under the circumstances. As for outsourcing the mowing, to get that, he'd have to give up his twice a day expensive coffee habit to pay for it, I figure. Otherwise, no deal.

  7. Oh, my. I hardly know where to start.

    I, too, have the problem that although I work 2 days, care for kids (one at home until this year), take kids to swimming, play-dates, dentist, hairdresser, dance classes etc, do all the grocery shopping, kids' clothes shopping, cooking, tidying, closet-sorting, washing, bed-changing, finger-nail cutting & household organising in general.... in spite of this the cleaning all seems to fall to me, too.

    Which is why I have NO guilt about getting a cleaner to come to clean the floors and do the bathrooms.

    Think about all the other cleaning stuff we do even if we DO have a cleaner - sweeping up, making beds, cleaning up messes, doing dishes, tidying toys & papers, blah blah blah.

    You sound like you do a LOT. And getting a cleaner once a fortnight will mean more time for you all to just be together. You may even have the energy to have sex more often.... tell Mr Fixit that!

    Good luck! We`are all here on your side!

  8. On many occassions when people turned up at our house and it was a mess (more than usual)- I would say "The cleaning lady called in sick today". Some people really thought we had one - very unreliable though.

    I am with you - it is your money!! I KNOW that when I am earning my own money, I WILL be employing a cleaning lady - a real one!!

  9. Buy Fixit a cooffee maker and a big bag of coffee so he can make his own. Bonus? It'll probably taste better than what he's paying twice a day for. Bonus #2? What is saved can be used to pay the housecleaner. Should make everyone happy? After all, would he rather come home to a cheerful, happy Stomper or to a grumpy, growling one?

  10. I'd talk myself into it by saying "It's only a trial, give it a (let's see...) YEAR and see if things are better".
    I think you're completely justified in doing it. My husband does most of the cooking, his own washing and ironing and I STILL can't get my shit together and have a neat and clean house. Sigh.

  11. Oh have typed this three times and it is turning into an essay.
    I say go for the trial, just rig the results. During the trial fixit will come home to a happy happy stomper, happy kiddies, the odd interesting meal (not to say you don't already do that) and so on.
    Seriously...after the motorbike I am surprised he even has an opinion . (ooh that sounded nasty but I didn't mean it like that, I meant that has to be a luxury right? he can't take the family out on it , or bring home the groceries, how does it benefit the family? Your luxury will benefit everyone). I'm raving again aren't I?

  12. Oh good grief. Yes. I understand. EXACTLY the same scenario played out in our house a number of years ago. EXACTLY. With the same result - an impasse that was never resolved. And now the kids are teenagers (one's even buggered off) and have less mess but still mess.

    Oh, and BTW, a mortgage isn't all that it's cracked up to be. I'm convinced we would actually be in a better financial position now if we had never bought houses and just rented and invested instead.

  13. I don't have kids and I still find very little time or inclination to clean - and a nice level of resentment that the place doesn't stay clean even with just me - and I'd hate to think what I'd be like with kids making the mess, stay at home or not. GO with the trial idea.

    Plus I love that having a cleaner would only theoretically give you more energy to clean up the spare room. I wouldn't want to be getting ahead of myself there either.

  14. Hmmm... can you really be considered to be a stay at home mum if you have your own business (that you're working hard to build up to help provide security for your family).

    Surely an entrepreneurial (I have no idea if that's spelled correctly) person such as yourself would have no time left for a third job (after the childcare and tap business). Well, unless you split it 50/50 with Fixit - then it wouldn't be quite as much of a burden.


  15. I am soooooo in your corner over this. The Poolboy and I agreed very early in our relationship, that we both didn't like cleaning and therefore we'd out-source it. Other than the year we spent in Perth (where it was impossible to get a cleaner due to the freakin' mining boom...at least that was the excuse) we've had a cleaner ever since. Complete sanity-saver.

  16. Agree with everything that has been said. I loathe housework!

    Another way to look at it, is, you will be providing employment for some other person, who very likely does quite like doing housework! How good for the economy! And your sanity!

  17. YAY! Cleaners rule! Although I must warn you that you do need to do quite a bit of preparatory cleaning before they arrive. But, Lordy, when they have left it's a beautiful thing.

    I'm putting all of my money on you Stomper - now run!!!

  18. Back again to say...when you do get one (and I have no doubt you shall get your way in the end!) just make sure she doesn't do the bucket-in-the-shower thing!

  19. GET A CLEANING LADY NOW. Tell him you'll have more energy for sex. That'll do it!

  20. 10 each way on Stomper Girl.

    Good name for a horse, if you don't mind me saying so.

    "and Stomper Girl wins by a head.."


  21. ps. and I have 1 word for you, Stomper...



  22. Go you good thing GO!!!
    I'm with Shula on this one...
    motorbike = cleaner

  23. My money's on you, definitely.

    I don't want to get in Mr. Fixit's face, but the thing is...he does do his motorcycle thing, which is an expensive hobby. For you to choose to spend some money on getting someone to clean the house for you can be your little bit of luxury. I think it's fair. You are not stealing food from your children. If anything, you are stealing a new pair of shoes from yourself every now and then.

    Also, my husband will tell you that getting a cleaning lady was a boost for the marriage. No more bickering over whose turn it was, or crankiness over who did a sloppier job. Peace and quiet .. AND a clean house.


  24. Plan B rocks. Being a SAHM is not a synonym for "domestic slave", especially if someone else can do it.

    Having said that, I can see it would be a difficult situation with Mr Fixit, and have only two words for you: good luck.

  25. Hey, we've just been through exactly the same thought processes and justification. We used to have a cleaner once a fortnight when we both worked full-time. Now I only work a couple of days we were finding it hard to justify getting someone in. However, after procrastinating and discussing for ages, our new once a week cleaning lady started yesterday! Yippee! All I want is clean bathrooms and floors and I'm happy to muddle along doing the rest whenever I can muster up the enthusiasm! Good luck, you deserve to have someone come in and help you keep things clean.

  26. Just get one - he won't be at home when she comes, you'll be paying so he won't notice that either - then say how hard you've worked that day (you know once a fortnight) to get extra brownie points. Have her come on a school/kinder day so the kids can't dob you in. If he does find out - tell him it costs $100.00, and after he's finished shouting tell him the real price, and it won't seem nearly as bad (that works for shoes and clothes too).
    xx Nell

  27. Having his and her monies could possible not be the best financial plan. Stay open and honest and try to make the decisions together. Because he got a bike (without consultation?) may mean that you can expect the balance to swing back to you, but two wrongs don't make a right. I'd rely on the happy Stomper = happy family aspect of the argument and try my best to not exclude him from the decision process.

  28. Just do it and don't tell him. He'll think you've picked up your game, and you can 'soothe' him round in the meantime.

    I do all the chores here - inside and out, but then, i'm not bringing in any money, and I don't do much else, so i'm cool with it.

    And i've also got this thing about other people touching my stuff, being in my kitchen, looking through my things, and pilphering stuff.

    Hence, why i like to do everything myself.

    Can you say 'control freak' ? ;)

  29. I'm with plan B. Or there could be a plan C which involves Mr Fixit becoming more involved in the housework, as well as the lawn etc.

    Each time I say I'm going to get a cleaner, G pulls his finger out (not that he works full time. Not that I don't run everything still, sigh.

    I get really mad sometimes at how much modern women ARE EXPECTED TO FIT INTO A DAY, no matter what their situation. It's also not too much to expect to have time for an interest, or a hobby, such as blogging.

    My money is on you.

  30. A cleaner, coming in once a fortnight, would cost approximately $80. That's being very generous with their rates. Very generous.

    That works out to be $160 a month. Or $1920 a year.

    How much did the bike cost? Rego? Petrol? Insurance?

    Is it a pleasure or work vehicle?

    If your business is growing, you need time to grow it.

    Just saying.

  31. I seem to recall that the shiny new motorbike was so expensive it required a LOAN with which to purchase it? Correct?

    Just get the cleaner.

    Oh by the way, my house is also a collection of cardboard boxes behind doors, only without the pretty cloth thrown over the top. That's a nice decorating tip, thanks!

  32. So it's a choice between him doing more cleaning, and you paying for a cleaning lady, and he didn't choose the cleaner?

    My Mum declared that a cleaner was the first thing you put money aside for, well before chocolate biscuits, long holidays or new shoes. I'm inclined to agree, but I don't have the cash. My aunt used to pay me to clean her place when I was an undergraduate. Her husband found out eventually, but by then it was obvious their finances hadn't crumbled.

  33. I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you! Everything on this post is what I need to decide that, actually, I DO need a cleaner and can now justify it!

    big smile!


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