Last month I was struggling a lot.
#1---Weather was crummy (cold, rain, snow, wind, clouds).
#2---I have three kids under the age of 4.5. Stuck. Indoors.
#3---I was losing motivation, energy, and joy. (And yes, I do blame the weather for this issue.)
#4---Baby Z was taking one night feeding. This wasn't so bad except he was also wanting his pacifier put back in 5x a night. And even when I wasn't the one attending to him, I was still listening for him, hearing him, and trying to squeeze my eyes shut and put the blanket over my head so I could try to catch some shut-eye.
Then I see all these little postings on Facebook with sayings like:
"Great moms have dirty dishes, sticky floors, and happy kids."
To which I realized, according to this random posting, I wasn't a great mom.
Because I cannot stand dirty dishes or sticky floors. :0)
Toys scattered, that's one thing. Dirt, well, that's another.
I found myself doing dishes while the kids napped (though I always swore and generally stuck to doing what I wanted during nap which didn't include chores), wiping counters and sorting mail at 10 p.m., and growing increasingly frustrated at the little piles of STUFF throughout the house.
I've decided to stop trying to be ok with dirt. There is no point. It's ingrained in me to want a clean home. We host a lot of playdates, and I want people to walk into my home feeling comfortable and, well, clean. I want the bathroom they use to tidy. I want them to walk around on my floors without their socks sticking. I want my home to be uncluttered.
Now, I'm not someone who scrubs my fridge once a week or takes a Q-tip to the baseboards. No. But I do want the floors vacuumed, the dishes done, and the toilets clean.
It's true that at times, I've dedicated myself to cleaning instead of playing with my children. My mind just cannot settle when there's a looming pile of slowly-hardening, food-laden dishes.
So we did something I didn't think we'd ever do...
and my husband agreed to it...
we hired house cleaners.
I truly used to stand by the belief that hiring people to clean your house was for the rich and snobby. I mean, who do you think you are that you are so far above picking up a mop or rag? Oh Rachel. Really?!?
I had to learn to let go a bit. To let someone else do the literal dirty work. To accept that yes, it costs money, but that money pays me in time.
We have a team clean our home twice a month, and the amazing thing is that it's cut down dramatically on how much I have to clean.
For one, my kids love their beautifully made beds---so much that Miss E spends at least one evening sleeping ON TOP of the made bed. :) For another, the cleaners do a REALLY good job. They tackle things I never did (light fixtures and baseboards) and things I don't want to do (inside of the microwave). And after they leave, we are motivated to keep things clean because we respect the money we spent on the service and love how nice everything looks.
My sister, who also has someone help clean her house, said to me the other day, and I thought this was really wise: Allowing someone else to clean means less time she is upset when things aren't done. It means instead of her husband coming home from work and her getting onto him for not helping with this chore or that chore, they can instead plop on the couch together and watch tv or just talk or visit a family member.
I never thought about it this way: that sometimes letting go, hiring help, and letting that person or people do the job, you're giving your marriage a lift!
I've eased up a bit since getting a house cleaner. I'm still adamant that my children (yes, even my 2 year old) pick up after themselves. Because they are capable, and because we are teaching them to always respect the things you have been blessed with. Laundry goes in the hamper. My four year old folds napkins and washcloths. The 2 and 4 year old like to help empty the dishwasher and sweep (they have mini-brooms). Another favorite chore is spraying and wiping interior windows (with lots and lots and lots of spray, of course). And I'm still uncomfortable with undone dishes and unvacuumed floors---but I've been letting them go longer lately because I know I have fewer chores to take care of.
So here's what I say...
Great moms take care of all they are blessed with, but none do it in the same way. But each of us is trying, each of us is evolving, and each of us defines "great" in different ways. And that's ok.