Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cleaning House

It's no secret that I am a bit of a nut when it comes to cleaning and organizing. I can be a little obsessive at times, it's true, worrying about the dust and the clutter, even when it's not actually so bad (according to 99% of the human population). I'm fully aware that my "eagle eye" when it comes to dust on shelves and mildewy grout is...uncommon. Sometimes I watch shows like Hoarders just to boost my ego a bit and remember that what may look totally unacceptable to me is actually pretty normal. Or at least not that bad.

Anyway, I have a tendency to keep a running log in my mind of all the housework left to be done. Whether I'm thinking about it or not, it's always there. For example, if we were out to lunch, and you asked me, "Hey Kim, what kind of clutter currently sits on your dining room table?" I'd be able to list each and every item, and mention that the kitchen counters need to be cleaned, and the bookshelves need to be dusted, and the blankets on the couch need to be folded and oh, my dresser is covered in things to be put away, etc. etc. etc. It's tiring, keeping this running log that I'm not even always aware of keeping. Anxiety is a tiring emotion; it takes up a lot of energy. Energy that should be used for other things, things that I actually enjoy (not that I don't enjoy cleaning, I do. But I don't enjoy thinking about cleaning, and usually I just don't have the time to do the kind of deep cleaning I'd do if I had the time, so I just think about what needs to be cleaned and then feel badly that it's not being done).

A wonderful friend of mine wrote here and here about hiring someone to clean her apartment. It was like she had listened to my soul and knew what I was struggling with. Seriously, read the first one if you want some insight into Kim's Crazy(butnotreallysocrazyafterall) Brain. Reading her words made me feel like it was all ok, like I wasn't some sort of failure as a woman if I couldn't keep my 840 sq ft apartment up to my standards of cleanliness. Writing it out makes me feel sort of crazy for feeling that way, but feelings are feelings and that's the way it goes sometimes. It's absolutely comforting to know that someone else has gone through exactly what you've gone through. And I want to be where she is now, one month into paying someone to clean her apartment. The end (of that part of the story).

Last week, after a full week of calling around for estimates, I hired my first cleaning crew. They came, they saw, they cleaned, but the visit was not without trouble. They arrived late (making me late for work), and they missed a few key things, but when I called the cleaning company, they promised a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and said they would return over the weekend to fix the mistakes free of charge. This weekend, they arrived several hours early (throwing off our morning plans), left a bottle of cleaning solution behind, and still missed a spot (though they did end up re-grouting the tub for us) - with the re-grouting, and the early arrival (they offered to come back later, but that would greatly inconvenience them, so I caved), our schedule for the day got a bit out of whack.

When I called back, the company apologized and said it seems there is a problem with this specific cleaning crew, and that for my next service (scheduled for June 1), they would send a different crew. I am giving this company another chance, but as in baseball, three strikes and you're out. Yes? The only reason I'm giving them another chance at all is because I would really hate to start over looking for someone new, doing the whole first-time intro and all that. I'd much rather have this work out. If it doesn't, it doesn't, but I'm going to hope it was just a flukey thing with this one crew.

We'll see. This is supposed to cut back on the anxiety about keeping up house, so here's hoping. It was lovely returning home to a freshly-cleaned house, toaster oven free of crumbs, floors mopped, couch cushions fluffed, blankets folded, bed made. It would be lovely to return home to that twice a month (or more, if we could afford it), not having to worry about scrubbing grout and dusting shelves!

This is all part of a new thing I'm working on called self-care. Finding things I can do to give myself a little break, treat myself a little. More on this later...for now, a clean house!


  1. I don't know if it's valuable information or not, but my mom's cleaner is a lady she met through work.  Lillian works part-time as a hospital custodian and the rest of the time runs her own house cleaning business.  (I think she may have recently quit at the hospital to run her own business full-time--she's very good and has a slew of satisfied customers).  Either way, being in touch with people who work part-time as cleaners may be helpful, as they're clearly skilled and may be looking to branch out. (cool thing--Lillian's husband runs his own house painting business and he and his guys are very good, so we've kept their whole family employed at one time or another! Indeed, I bet they could make ends meet on the income from just mom's neighbourhood.  They've been recommended to every new neighbour at some point.)

  2. Oh Kim! I am so glad you are working on self-care. I think most people care for themselves last of all, but you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help your neighbor with theirs. Right? Right. I heart you. And I hope the new crew does a stellar job so you can be confident that you're in good hands from now on. 

  3. Well now, if only Lillian was in Oakland, I'd be all set! :) Seriously
    though, that's a good idea. I'll keep my ears open (eyes open?) for local
    people who work part time in the field.

  4. Thanks! The oxygen mask thing is a metaphor I've heard before, and it's a
    really really good one. I'm thinking of getting a print of the standard
    drawing from the airline and framing it as a reminder.

  5. Ahhhh! What a great idea! I will copy you. :-D

  6. Something like this: http://www.emaki.net/images/forum/airplane01.jpg

  7. OMG Kim. I am so, so, so jealous. I think I'm going to look into this. If I gave up out to eat lunches for a month, I'd probably be able to pay for at least one visit. I'm going to weep just thinking about how awesome it would be to have clean floors again.

  8. Do it. I pay $60 every two weeks. It hasn't been PERFECT so far, but already
    so worth it.