Hiring a Cleaner – The Divisive Decision

lady house cleaner using a vacuum

Mrs. Hoopla would rather give up coffee, air and chocolate than give up her cleaner.

Years and years ago, before we procreated, Mr. Hoopla and I were working our butts off growing our careers. We would toil away all week before punishing ourselves all weekend out on the razz and start the cycle again. We were indeed partying like it was 1999, which in fact it was.

Every Saturday we would wake and spend some time cleaning our little 2 bedroom place.

It was one particularly nasty hangover Saturday when I stood in front of the toilet, bleach in one hand and brush in the other, when I spied a lonely pubic hair stuck to the rim in a drop of dried urine. After I recovered from my mega-chundering, I looked around at the filth that was our house, noted that my parents were due for lunch in less than an hour and decided then and there that I was not taking it anymore.

I did some sums and worked out what I was roughly earning an hour at my publishing job. And I did the same for Mr. Hoopla. And then I gave him a short presentation, justifying that the money we spent on a cleaner was well worth it compared to us spending THE ENTIRE SATURDAY doing it ourselves. For some reason it did take us an extraordinary amount of time. We lacked enthusiasm for the task.

And also, the cleaning was becoming between us.

We threw some money at the problem. We got a cleaner.

A few years later we were fully-fledged breeders. When you add kids, and a bigger house and an extra bathroom the filth certainly multiplies as well. We have Super Lilly who comes every week. And as a bonus, Lilly gives me fashion and parenting advice and always tells me how nice my hair is looking. She is part of the family and we all LOVE Lilly.

I would rather give up coffee, air and chocolate for Lilly. There would only be the shadow of a whisker of a hair on a bee’s dick between Lilly and a cold bottle of wine. But to be honest, I think even Lilly might win that as well. Because when my kitchen floor is not crunchy and I have not attended to it, my happiness is guaranteed.

I recall that on my first trip overseas in 1986 I stood at the bottom of a flight of stairs in the London Tube and wondered how on earth I would ever manage to haul to the top the ridiculously over-stuffed suitcase I had brought with me.

It was late, I was shattered with exhaustion after the never-ending trip (and the Madonna, Sean Penn in-flight movie, Shanghai Surprise) and I had to wait for ages for someone to come and help me carry my bag.

busy woman ready to clean the dirty house

The metaphor has stayed with me ever since.

If you can’t carry your own suitcase, you’ve got too much stuff. Same with houses, I reckon.

If you can’t clean your house yourself, either:
a) Your house is too big
b) You’re working too hard, or
c) You’ve got unrealistic expectations of tidiness.

Cleaning your own nest is a pretty fundamental obligation for most able-bodied humans, unless you’re the Queen and having serfs comes with the gig.

That goes for most creatures in the animal kingdom as well. Although I know some supremely well-organized critters have symbiotic relationships – like, say moray eels who have cleaner shrimp come in and pick their teeth clean of bits of dead fish.

But I’m not a zebra with a tick bird. (Incidentally, if you have a really efficient, cheap, tick bird do other zebras try and steal it from you?)

Look, I know we’ve all got more important stuff to do and, sure I’d rather be working on writing a new novel or playing with the kids than scrubbing the dunny, but it’s my dunny. I use it and in all honesty, I just can’t bring myself to ask anyone to clean up my… well, you know what I mean.

If the kids or the novel have to wait until the vacuuming’s done, so be it. Even if they have to wait that bit longer cause I can’t find the actual floor. No, even better, they can vacuum the floor.

When the kids were little and I was doing breakfast radio we did have a cleaner for a bit, but I felt uneasy about it.

I felt so guilty having someone “do” for me that I ended up paying her waaaay more than I should, bringing her presents and inviting her over for dinner. I should mention that she was a very nice woman and ended up becoming a family friend.

And that brings me to the next point, she was such a nice woman that I always thought she had waaaaay better things to do than clean up after me.

I know that in this economy that probably sounds stupid. After all, we pay people to do all kinds of stuff for us – clean the pool, garden, do the guttering – but asking someone to pick up my knickers from the bedroom floor and do my dishes?

Nup. Just can’t do it.

My husband refuses to even contemplate the idea of hiring a cleaner. (He used to work as a cleaner himself and he’s house husband, so feels it’s slight on his abilities. Ahem!)

Now, we all just muddle through the chaos. So, when you come to my place the bedroom door will be shut and if you’d like to help me with the dishes?

That would be very nice, thank you.

Do come again, and feel free to make liberal use of the dunny brush.


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