My name is Maurie, and I have a cleaning lady.
There. I said it. I don’t work outside the home, and my primary job these days is taking care of my kids and maintaining my household, and yet, I have a cleaning lady. And I don’t feel bad about it one bit.
That wasn’t always the case, though. In fact, I spent many months struggling with cleaning lady guilt until logic took over. More on that in a bit.
I first started using a cleaning lady back when I was working full-time and got pregnant with my now 4-year-old. Between my demanding work schedule and growing belly, I decided I was justified in seeking help. After my son was born, I continued working full-time, but held onto my cleaning lady so I could spend my weekends doing things with and taking care of my son, not scrubbing toilets and vacuuming floors. I wrote off the cost as one of going to work, similar to commuting expenses and the occasional dry cleaning bill.
When I had my twin daughters just over a year ago, I knew I wouldn’t be returning to full-time work and planned to keep my cleaning lady for the first few months, during which time I barely had time to eat or sleep, let alone clean. I figured once my daughters stopped nursing every hour and a half and things got a little more manageable, I’d slowly but surely find a way to work cleaning my own house into my schedule.
Fast forward a year, and that still hasn’t happened. While my daughters are no longer nursing around the clock (these days, they’re hardly nursing at all), they still need to be fed, changed, and entertained. Constantly. And then there’s my son, who, despite his preschool schedule that keeps him out of the house for part of the day, still requires my attention too.
Plus, there’s cooking to be done. And laundry. Lots and lots and lots of laundry. And grocery shopping. And other errands. And the list goes on. In addition, I’m working as many hours as I can each week as a freelance writer, and while much of that work gets done at night after the kids go to sleep, I do try to squeeze a little in during daytime hours, such as when my son is at school and I can get both girls to settle down for a nap.
In fact, I can honestly say that from the moment I get up (very early) in the morning to when I go to bed (way too late) at night, I’m constantly busy with something. I may not work outside the home at an office, but as far as I’m concerned, between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. (my former full-time work schedule), my hours are 100% accounted for. I’ve done the math, and there just isn’t enough time to clean. Sure, I’ll do a countertop wipe-down after I cook, and I take a spray bottle to the bathrooms pretty much every other day. But if we’re talking about a real, thorough house-cleaning session—the kind that involves vacuuming and dusting and scrubbing the showers and tubs—then no, there’s no time.
It takes my cleaning lady a good five hours to get my house in shape, but that’s five uninterrupted hours. If I were to tackle the same job on my own, by my calculations, it would take a minimum of 10 given that I’d need to stop every seven minutes to change a diaper, soothe a child, help retrieve a lost puzzle piece, and so forth. And weekends are out, because even though my husband is generally home, that’s when we often need to tackle larger maintenance projects and repairs. Or if not, then we’re running to birthday parties, or play dates, or synagogue, or doing other things that are important for us to be able to do as a family—which, incidentally, I no longer feel bad about either.
And so I’ve decided my cleaning lady will be a permanent fixture around here for as long as she’s willing to put up with our mess. Better yet, I refuse to feel guilty about it. Right now, having a cleaning lady isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity, and at this point in my life, I need to take all the help I can get.