Knowing when to ask for help

Our cleaners quit this week.

I know, hashtag first world problems.

I wish I could have talked to them, honestly and openly. Social rules and norms prevent that and the language barrier didn’t help. What I want them (and you) to know is that hiring someone to clean our house was a really hard decision for us (me) to make.

First off, the financial aspect alone makes it hard. It’s a luxury for sure and one we made sacrifices for. More so it was admitting that I simply could not do it all. I mean, I was never a good housewife but we managed. Child number four threw us. When you add in two different schools to drive kids to and from and my starting to work from home, well, I just wasn’t keeping up. The mess would spiral and everyone would be cranky because there were messes and there weren’t enough hours to rinse and repeat.

Asking for help has never been easy but asking someone to come into your house and clean it, usually while you chase a toddler or work is even harder. It felt both luxurious and guilty at the same time. I don’t not want to clean my house, I just need help and since no one has a way to add more hours to the day, help is what we had to do.

I want them to know that I constantly felt bad and embarrassed that the house wasn’t cleaner when they got here. I would spend the day before doing the standard picking up of items around the house. I usually tried to wipe all the crumbs off the counters and sweep the dining room so they wouldn’t think we were pigs. When school started, that got harder. I know it looks like pigs lived in our dining room but really it’s just four kids, one who is a toddler who likes to roam while eating.

Now I’m back to square one, only feeling like an even bigger failure. Not only could I not clean my house myself but I also couldn’t keep a cleaner. I’m sure it’s not us. There were other factors, they said. That’s what the ex always says when they dump you, right? It’s not you, it’s me? Well, it feels like it’s me.

So I’ve spent the week trying to run the book fair at school, keep up with my writing and other freelance work, help with homework and drive kids, play with the toddler, feed the children 34,536,687,778 times a day and try to come up with SOME kind of routine, order, something, to stay on top of housework so I can convince my husband, and myself, that we can do this. We can do it all!! We don’t need help.

The first day, I flooded our basement doing laundry. Standing water, wet carpet, boxes thrown out flooded. We’ll call that “did laundry and mopped the floor.” The second day I cleaned the dining room, changed all the table linens and steam mopped the floor. When I cleaned up from dinner, I knocked over a glass, spilling all over the linens and floor. Since then I have tried just keeping the one kitchen counter cleaned up, food products away, dishes in the sink or washer, etc. It’s working, if I don’t let anyone else in the kitchen … ever.  But it’s a start, just like asking for help. Which, clearly, I will need to do because I don’t think my husband is keen on my routinely flooding the house as a method for mopping the floors.

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