Stay-Home Mom Does Not Mean Stay-Clean House

When I was working outside of the home full-time, we paid for a cleaning service. Two wonderful ladies came every two weeks and stayed for an hour and a half, and they consistently left behind a house so clean I once spent 10 minutes marveling at the spotlessly shiny surface of my toaster.

(It was reflective! Who knew a burnt-smelling waffle-hut encrusted with a patina of crumbs and fingerprints could be transformed into a gleaming mirrored appliance?)

I fought hard to keep the housecleaners in our budget, even when our money started getting tight. Every few months I delivered a multimedia presentation (complete with slides and dramatic re-enactments) explaining to my husband why it would be beneficial to our family's mental health if I wasn't the only one in charge of scrubbing toilets and de-griming the kitchen floor.

"I'll help more," he said.

"Yeah, right," I said. "Please indicate on this chart which item you would use to clean a bathtub ring."


"Um ... the butter knife? No, wait, the plunger!"

About a year ago, our budget finally dried up to the point where luxuries like "paying the utility bills" and "not having the bank foreclose on our home" took precedence over everything else, and I reluctantly canceled the cleaning service. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it was a sad day for me—made worse by my husband trying to cheer me up.

"Look, honey, I'll clean the toilets right now!"

"So why are you holding a box of laundry detergent?"

I used to outsource the deep cleaning work because I didn't want to spend my non-office, non-commute hours holding a mop, but the irony is, now that I'm home full-time with the kids, the house is easily 20 times more filthy than it ever was before.

The clutter is overwhelming, despite me nagging the kids every 15 minutes to pick up the toys constantly stacked on every surface. The laundry is never-ending—a Sisyphean cycle of things that need to go in the washer, things that need to come out of the dryer, and things that are sitting in a giant wrinkled pile on the dining room table ready to be put away. The dishwasher runs night and day, my tape-obsessed kid has left Scotch remnants on every wall and countertop, and I have LEGOs permanently embedded in the arch of each foot.

It's not just the surface stuff, though. The house is just grosser now. Crumbs on the floor, crayons half-melted down the heat vents, chips in the paint, couch cushions stained from peanut-butter-coated mouths, Spider-Man-branded toothpaste smeared on the bathroom cabinets, a kitchen nook table encrusted from a daily two-kid Cheerio spill, two boys' bedrooms that look like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

If I think about it too much, my right eyelid starts twitching.

A large portion of my day is spent keeping things in a state juuuuust above biohazard levels. The bathtub always has a ring these days because if I turn my attention to that, the other end of the house explodes. The toilets rarely sparkle because I'm always buried underneath a toppling mountain of 5T and 3T shirts.

Which is all to say, I believe now—more than ever—I could really, really use that cleaning service. But I don't know if I could justify it, because after all, I'M HOME ALL DAY HA HA HA HAAA.

*scrubs furiously at right eye*

What are your thoughts on having some housecleaning help, if you're home with a couple of messy kids? Worth every penny, a pointless luxury, or ...?

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