After much soul-searching, I recently hired a cleaner. Why was it such a hard step to take? In a word, shame.
If my mother – a single parent with a demanding job, two children and a real handful of an ex-husband – could find time and energy to keep her home spotless, it was a joke I couldn’t do the same. Comparatively, my life is a doddle, yet I let piles of washing and dirty dishes mount up. Floors remained unswept. Surely this was failure?
The truth is I don’t care anymore. There are times friends and family give me a look – “Why have you got a cleaner?” – and for a moment I have a shame-surge. But I needed help and for the price of a Zara dress each month I have it. In many ways, having a cleaner is a personal triumph – in many ways it’s the most grown-up thing I’ve ever done.
Until recently, the idea of getting a cleaner always seemed ridiculous. After all, I am perfectly capable of changing my own sheets. Mopping my own floor. Dusting my own clutter on my own shelves. I am not one of those women, if you know what I mean. Except it turns out I am – and happily so. It turns out adding cleaning to an insanely full-on job, marriage, a child and everything that comes with these things is where my capability ends. Cleaning is the straw that breaks the camel’s back in my case – and I don’t think I’m alone.
But this is a fairly enlightened statement for me and not one I ever thought I could stand by. It comes two years into an almighty struggle with my immune system that led to complete and total burnout. I couldn’t get out of bed. Trying to do everything meant I ended up being able to do nothing. Doggedly, I had ignored my own tiredness for far too long.
And from my sick bed, I made the best call of my life. I let myself off the hook – I organised a cleaner. She came, she cleaned, I paid her, she left. It really wasn’t that complicated. It really wasn’t that big of a deal. In one session, I couldn’t live without her. In one session, I realised having a cleaner was a kindness I deserved.