It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it

2 Jan

This year I’m going to get tough. I’m the world’s worst procrastinator and it has to stop. Now that my maternity leave/doss period is well and truly over it’s time I dedicated some proper time – meaning no tackling domestic duties, browsing the ASOS website, or trimming stray nose hairs with nail scissors – to work. For two days a week the baby has a minder, and I now have a new cleaner. For once everything seems fairly well sorted on the home front.

I have a track record of being bloody useless with cleaners. I realise I’m lucky enough to have someone else to tackle some of the residual crap, but in the past I have usually created more work for myself when I’ve hired anyone to do anything around the house. I’m simply an awful delegator.

In the run-up to Christmas I felt like Scrooge when, by text, I sacked a lady who had cleaned our house for nearly a year. As I pressed send, I had to remind myself that I was not 16 and this was not a lover (though come to think of it I was never bold enough to dump anyone and mobiles weren’t really around when I was young.) What made it even harder was the fact that she would translate the text into Polish using Google Translate. God knows how my mini essay would have been spewed out on her screen, but I could imagine:

Dear Ana,
I really adore you very much but I’m thinking that maybe I can do my own domestic duties now because I have a lot of extra time  on my palms. I hope that this is not a tragedy for you. It’s not your domestic practices or you, it’s me. I’m just ashamed to have a cleaner when I have not any jobs at all to do all day! Take care.

Of course, I had no time on my hands and my house was a tip. I was always frantically tidying before she came to clean, though when I say clean, I mean she liked to spray a lot of toxic chemicals around the house and use the best part of a double pack of kitchen towel polishing the loo paper holder, occasionally blocking the loo by trying to flush the paper, despite my gentle protestations.

I began to feel guilty about everything she was doing. Every week I would get a text from her saying that she had to go to the bank/doctors/passport office/airport and that she was going to be an hour, or sometimes a day late. (Saturday was OK instead of Friday, no?) Of course it was fine, I replied, even though I’d planned for the children to evacuate the building and spent the whole morning frantically clearing the decks.

I felt guilty about the fact that she was morbidly obese. I needed the tops of the shelves doing but I didn’t want her to climb onto the step-ladder in case she felt uneasy standing on a ledge.

I felt guilty about moving the oversized fairground bear she had bought for the baby from the middle of my bed (she placed it there every week) for fear that she might return on another day and see it hidden away from view.

I ended up feeling guilty about asking her to move the bedroom doors to hoover behind them. If I wanted anything shifted, that was a special request in her mind, so most of the time things just didn’t get cleaned. I found one of summer’s dead wasps under the living room coffee table in December.

My husband, the swine, told me that it was my job to speak to her about cleaning. He’s a feminist (he claims), but like changing nappies, he believed that I had an innate ability to dole out domestic duties. In short, he was, like me, too much of a coward to ask her to leave.

The final straw came a few weeks ago when I arrived home and discovered that Ana had decided against any kind of cleaning, in favour of taking everything out of the half-full dishwasher, washing it by hand and then drying it. She had then moved on to a mountain of dirty laundry upstairs (in a basket, so not strictly on display), and folded it into a neat pile. If she’d sniffed the knickers as I have to when I find them on the floor sometimes, then she would have known that they were not clean. Thank God she had run out of time to iron.

After that visit I realised I’d have been better off spraying some Pledge into the air, setting fire to the vapour and holding forty quid in the flame. The thrill would have been bigger than seeing my house still covered in the same layer of dust as the week before. The cleaner just wasn’t that into cleaning, just as I had not really been that into organising when I had once been hired as a PA.

The new cleaner started two weeks ago. She is amazing. I get so excited before her arrival that I tidy up with enthusiasm.  I’m under strict instruction from my mother, queen of giving good advice and never using it herself (she once had a cleaner who insisted on a 30-minute paid break out of her three hours cleaning, where my mum would make her a sandwich and a coffee), that I need to physically demonstrate how I like things done. “If you want her to wipe the skirting boards, take a cloth, bend down, and show her how you like it to be done.” She’s so good I haven’t had to give any instruction, which suits me fine. I’ve been thinking about work, and tomorrow I think I’ll begin.


8 Responses to “It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it”

  1. Jim January 3, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Another great post. Happy New Year dear

    PS. I may need to get her number!

    X J

    • mothersruined January 5, 2012 at 12:06 am #

      I have number… She is a miracle worker. Happy New Year to you too x

  2. Florence January 3, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    another laugh from the fabulous MR x

    • mothersruined January 5, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      Ooh. I like being referred to as MR. Sounds important.

  3. Leanne White January 3, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    you are very funny…….i love my cleaner, as long as she doesnt look too closely at my bedroom!

    • mothersruined January 5, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      Thank you my love. Aren’t cleaners life savers? x

  4. ladyblahblahs January 3, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    Oh, you’ve just reminded me why I hate having a cleaner. Your mum’s advice would never work for me either, my instructions would be more along the lines of ‘as you can see, I am crap at cleaning, please do it better’

    • mothersruined January 5, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      Yup, can’t work out whether it’s more stressful having a cleaner or not having one at all…

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