Sisyphus and Housecleaning

There aren’t many splurges in which I engage, at least not many that involve spending money. One thing I do allow myself is a monthly visit from housecleaning professionals to deep-clean my home and those spots that I rarely clean at all (like the insides of the light fixtures).

Usually I take the kids to the library on cleaning day so that I have the pleasure of opening up the door when we arrive home and knowing that, for a few minutes at least, there’s nothing that needs to be cleaned. The cleaners visited yesterday. It was too soon to go to the library, so we stayed at home while they worked and tried to stay out of their way by doing our homeschooling out in the sunroom instead of in the dining room where we usually do lessons.

The smell of probably-toxic cleansers hung in the air as the housecleaners called out their goodbyes and let themselves out. The sound of the door latching was followed not a minute later by the sound of one of the cats yarking on the basement rug. While my attention was occupied cleaning that up, my son saw his chance.

The kitchen, crayon.
The dining room, dry erase marker.
The toy room, dry erase crayon.
The bedroom, crayon.
The office, washable crayon.

Between the kids, the cats, and my own messy cooking style (while making dinner that night I dropped a big glob of mashed potatoes on the kitchen floor that I’d just finished dowsing with the cooking water from the collard greens. I think I may have already mentioned my “exploding squash” adventure, so you can see that this is a pattern of behavior for me), I wonder if it’s really worth the money to have professionals clean my house. Housework is always a Sisyphean endeavor, but at least I don’t have to hand over a check if I’m the one doing the work.

8 Replies to “Sisyphus and Housecleaning”

  1. Pingback: Claudsy's Blog
  2. Ah yes, the joys of a house cleaner. We used to have one and then I decided my older sons needed to learn how to do all those household chores and who best to model them but my husband and I. They have come quite proficient at the daily cleaning tasks and can wash a floor, vacuum, and clean a bathroom up to my standards (though they do hate it when I do a spot check and reject something! They are also good at washing dishes and can cook a few different meals from scratch). That said, I am thinking of asking my husband to spring for a deep cleaning of the house this season as I am worn out at the moment and Mother’s Day is just around the corner.


  3. Try calculating your “burn rate”–the cost per hour of your time based on the operating cost of your household and life, and allowing for vacation, retirement savings, mortgage, etc. If maids cost less than the burn rate, they’re in because your time is more valuable.


  4. I had to come right away when I saw the title for this one!! So perfect.
    I love the photos! That was some expert work by your boy.
    My eventual goal is to have someone come in and just do the bathrooms and kitchen.
    I also used to provide my own cleaning supplies when I did have someone. There are so many good, safe, earth friendly ones now. It’s totally worth it.
    Deep cleaning…. yeah, I need that too at least every 6 months. When you mention insides of light fixtures I realize how much I never touch either.
    My sister washes her walls regularly! I wish I was that kind of person, but I can’t imagine scheduling that in.


    1. About once a year or so, I try to implement the FlyLady rotation schedule to tackle some of these deep-clean chores in reasonable bites. It never sticks, though. There’s always next year, I suppose.

      Yes, I think the housecleaners would use the products I do if I asked them to (and provided the products), but there’s a bit of social anxiety on my part that keeps me from talking to them. That’s only exacerbated by my perpetually feeling like I ought not to need to hire someone to clean my house at all. Totally my fault. So far, I figure a once-monthly exposure to major-brand cleansers is a small price to pay if it allows me to avoid social discomfort.


  5. All my walls have crayon marks. I’m OK with it, although I wasn’t after I had freshly painted the whole house. House cleaning is a Sysiphean work and I think it’s a smart decision to have professionals do it at least once in a while. I am always disappointed in my own cleaning and it is a chore that I dislike very much. Nobody should have to do it without pay at least.


    1. Well, when it’s not undone as soon as I do it, I’m pretty well sustained by the satisfaction of a job well done. Mostly I think my cleaning is more thorough than the professionals’, especially the floors, but I haven’t figured out how to reach and remove the cover of the large hanging light fixture in our entryway, so I appreciate having someone do that job for me.


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