Housekeeping (aka: How I failed as an Adult)

About three months after I moved to Seattle, I um, outsourced my housekeeping. Oh, I heard all of the retorts, not a one of them applicable to what I was going through at the time, and what I still fight with. cleaning-supplies in a bucket

“Oh, you’re just showing off.”

“You’re lazy.”

“Your place is tiny, you can clean it within hours.”

“You work from home, you can clean through the day.”

“You’re a perfectly healthy adult, now go be one and clean your flat.”

“What a waste of money.”

“You must be rich.”

And one helpful, “that must be nice.”

You’re probably reading this post thinking along those same lines. I mean, those were the general reactions I heard when folks asked how I kept my space relatively clean. But save for four people in my life, not including my landlord, many do not understand why I hired cleaning help.

“Oh, you’re just showing off.”

Except I’m not. I hired help back in Ohio too. To be honest, I was completely overwhelmed between the cross-country move, my shifting day job to accommodate said move, my own brain not quite figuring out why I wasn’t going out every night like I had in Cincinnati, and my own chemistry deciding to throw a wrecking ball into the feelings mix.

I found myself incredibly lonely, sitting in a trash bag flat and feeling like a wreck in both myself and my apartment. What else can life throw at you?

In my case, it threw a helping hand.

“You’re lazy.” 

Working from 6am PST to 6pm PST in order to shift my day job, running a blog, maintaining 4 websites, writing a novel, writing a screenplay, trying to have a social life, keeping my apartment clean, cooking not one, not two, but three meals for myself each day, washing up afterward, and trying to have the spoons to do all of those things within 24 hrs a day? I barely had enough gumption to clean my own flat, much else do anything else that required not sitting in a chair for 12 hours a day.

In order to gain some semblance of control in my life, I gave up some of it to someone else.

“Your place is tiny, you can clean it within hours.”

Sure, 400 sq. ft. is not a lot of space. But when you’ve all but sat in one spot for 12+ hours a day, the idea of cleaning 20 ft. worth of counter space, doing dishes, cooking food, and making sure your bed is made when you feel like garbage is the last thing you want to do with your time. Or you can at least keep things tidy until you can get help with the deep clean.

“You work from home, you can clean through the day.”

For those who have day jobs, do you clean your house while you work? At the office? Impressive.

But I actually can not clean through the day while at work. Primarily because I’m working. The way I bill at my day job is by 15-minute increments. I can’t just sneak away to go wash dishes when a client needs a task completed. Management tends to frown on sandbaggers and since I do work remotely, I have to prove myself as a competent employee twice over compared to somebody working from one of the office hubs.

Unless it’s a slow day. When those arrive, you study.

“You’re a perfectly healthy adult, now go be one and clean your flat.”

Also not true. I have a multitude of mental and physical issues that rob me of energy daily. Add in Executive Dysfunction and things get weird and just don’t get done. Once the Anxiety kicks in, because adults should be able to clean their own flats, it’s a downward spiral that ends up with a lot of frustrated dishes being done. 

Fortunately, I can ask for help. I did ask for help.

“What a waste of money.”

Hardly! I researched Seattle cleaning companies when I moved. They were asking for $140 for two hours worth of work. Or I could just hire the person my landlord uses and her rates were significally more accessible. We’ve both discussed just what a deal I’m getting there, so I tip her the difference of what she’d usually charge other homes. If that means skipping a dinner out twice a month, it’s worth it for the peace of mind her cleaning brings.

“You must be rich.”

Nope! I am learning how to budget for things I need and things I want. Hiring Hjordis made more sense than getting SNS manicures twice a month.

“That must be nice.”

You’re right. It is nice. Knowing that Hjordis will sweep in, put things to rights and grant me the opportunity to walk into a pristine space when she’s finished or keep me company as she works, is such a relief. It’s a visible relief because I’m not sitting trying to come up with a cleaning plan, failing at it, and then things spiral out of my control. These days, I just make an effort to keep things to a mild mess, and then Hjordis does the deep cleaning I do not have the energy for.

“So how much is this woman?”

Sixty dollars. Yeah, a steal. I only pay $60 to clean my studio. I tip her excessively, because it is a deal, and I know I’m getting off easy. The trade-off being the help with keeping my head above water some weeks and she’s a joy to chat with when we are both feeling social. Figuring out what to snip from the budget is a tiny obstacle that I conquer monthly.

If you also work from home, or just completely overwhelmed with being domestic on top of your own work, outsource it! It sounds extravagant, but if it’s just you managing your entire life on top of your family, cleaning can often fall to the wayside and it’s not worth the emotional labor. At that point, it’s a lifesaver.

“How do I find one?”

Google is a big help here, but also word of mouth. Ask your friends who hire help for their suggestions, or your neighborhood facebook or Next Door group. You’d be surprised just who outsources their own housework because it does feels like a luxury, but if your budget can support it, you also get those hours back that you’d otherwise spend cleaning.

Sound off in the comments if you also outsource your own domestic work and the area you live in. Your own suggestions may help someone else in a similar situation.