Coveting Cleaning Ladies & Other Sins

Last night I read a blog post from one of my most favorite writers. Until that moment I didn’t think anything could diminish my love of said writer. But then I read the words that changed my mind.

She said a cleaning service had offered to clean her house. Every week.


My friend Jill informed me that the 11th commandment is – or should be – “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s cleaning lady.”

What about holding on for dear life to one last fairy tale, the one where someone – ANYONE – else cleans my house???

When I thought about what fairy tales I’ve dreamed up for my role as a homemaker, they pretty much went like this:

Fairy Tale #1: I’ll have my own house and it won’t ever need to be cleaned.
Fairy Tale #2: I’ll get my act together and clean my own house. All the time.
Fairy Tale #3: I’ll find the money to pay a cleaning service to deal with my house.

So far, none of these are coming true. And so, my dining room table starts the week looking like that photo above. Because, well, weekends are busy and full of living and not picking up or cleaning.

I’ve given up the fantasy that magical birds and squirrels will clean my house – or that I’ll wake up one day liking folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher and sweeping the floors. It’s possible that someday my budget will afford me the luxury of a regular cleaning service.

But until then, I’m stuck in the middle of the learning process – the one where I figure out how to clean enough, organize enough, fold and empty and put away and pick up enough, and let the rest of it go.

If you know me or have read this blog for anytime at all, you know I have lots of thoughts and feelings on this subject. But this time I’m turning it over to you and calling it a night. My headache and the baby demand it.

What fairy tale have you had to give up about how you manage your home (cooking, cleaning, decorating, etc.)?

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35 Comments Coveting Cleaning Ladies & Other Sins

  1. Mom to Many October 10, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Thank-you for posting a picture of your kitchen table- mine looks like that too (and my family is mostly raised and out of the house!) I tell people I am a relaxed housekeeper but inside I wear the tension of wishing I were more organized!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      I love that – “a relaxed housekeeper”! I bear that same tension, but honestly, I think being more relaxed – intentionally or not – makes other people feel more at home in my house. And THAT is valuable!

  2. Sarah L October 10, 2013 at 9:03 am

    We are hosting two birthday party, pumpkin carving (with adults), and a playgroup this month. I had glorious visions of keeping my house tidy all month, so as to only do minimal pick up between fun events. That lasted…hmmm, well about two hours? My mom did make the point the other day that everyone cleans when people come over, but it doesn’t always look like that :-)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Ohhhh, you were ambitious. A whole month?! I tried for a whole WEEK last year, between friend birthday party and family birthday party. It only worked because I pretended not to see all the dirt and dust that accumulated in just a few days! :)

  3. Jen October 10, 2013 at 9:39 am

    My kitchen island looks just like your table. I don’t think it’s possible to keep clean for more than an hour at a time.

    I’ve had to give up my dreams of having a beautifully decorated house. It’s tough when you see so many pretty homes on blogs. I’m just not sure how people have the time and money to make their houses look so pretty. I just don’t have the talent or resources to do so and I’m just now, after 12 years of home-ownership becoming ok with that. I’ll just enjoy looking at all of the pretty pictures everyone else posts online :)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Here’s what I’ve decided about some of the things I see online (especially Pinterest) – I just don’t care that much. I mean, yes, I’d LOVE to have a gorgeous, seasonal mantel and new, cat-hair-free pillows on my couch and shiny kitchen appliances. But I have a fairly good idea of how much time (and sometimes money) goes into all that. And I just like spending my time elsewhere. So, I have faded pillows that match…pretty well. And base model appliances that get wiped down…sometimes. And the occasional holiday decoration that makes me smile. And for me? That’s just right. Maybe it is for you, too? :)

  4. Kate October 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I know what you mean about coveting something in someone else’s house. I am lucky enough right now to have a weekly cleaning service, but it has not helped me be organized or like the poster above, have any talent for decorating. I have bins of mixed up toys in my toy room, messy drawers, and laundry stacked on my washer and dryer for days at a time. Its so hard to keep up with putting things away, and when I do get to it, I’m often just stashing things in the quickest place out of sight. But I will continue to strive to be organized, one drawer or counter top at a time!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      I think that’s a big key – just tackling one project or one problem at a time. And figuring out how to be content with our own limitations while celebrating those baby step accomplishments!

  5. Helen October 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    So funny to open your blog and see this picture! I just started cleaning off my dining room table today, getting ready for……THANKSGIVING…..may take that long. BUT I notice that you have flowers on your table…and your precious daughter looks like she’s about to do something fun and creative! Love your blog. Just found it recently.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Helen! Good luck with your table – I just know you can get it ready for the holidays! (Although then comes shopping and I don’t know about you, but THAT always does a number on any clean surfaces in my house!!) :)

  6. Adelle Gabrielson October 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I felt EXACTLY the same way when I read her post. I’m having a hard time not seeing me current living situation as permanent simply by its enormity – we are a home under construction. If you’ve ever lived through this then you know – the dust and dirt are unstoppable. I have a living room set, a fridge, stove and dishwasher sitting in my dining room. I can tell myself it’s only going to be a couple of months but living in it every day feels like forever. I have a friend who is writing 31 Days to Letting it Go and she needs to read this post!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Oh, Adelle, I can’t imagine. I could barely handle one WEEK of a house under construction this summer! (As a matter of fact, the weekend my husband put down new linoleum – no, not tile, sadly – in our kitchen and I woke up to find my fridge and stove STILL IN MY DINING ROOM led to me writing a post about wanting to run away from home!!) You’re right, though – your chaos won’t last forever. It won’t! And in the end, cleaning service or not (!!!), I bet you’ll love that renovated space so much! Until then…chocolate, coffee, reality TV…whatever helps you get through! :)

      1. Adelle Gabrielson October 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        ah ha! So you DO know! Lots of chocolate and Trader Joe’s Pecan Pralines. ; )

  7. Colleen October 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I’m with you – I’ve given up (or regularly remind myself to give up) on having a clean, organized house. I figure one day I’ll look up and there won’t be piles of paper on the table and coupons waiting to be clipped on the counter and random toys strewn about…and then I’ll be sad because it’ll mean my children are grown. :'(

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 11, 2013 at 9:18 am

      True. Then again, you have boys so perhaps they’ll wreck the place for old time’s sake when they visit as adults? ;)

      1. Colleen October 11, 2013 at 10:11 am

        Ha ha ha! I guess I can hope, hey? ;)

        1. Erin October 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

          TOTALLY agree with Colleen! I don’t want to think about a house with no toys strewn all over the floor–already makes me emotional! (and the boys are 4.5 and 2). A clean, orderly house will (maybe) happen later in my life, but I’m going to give up for now and enjoy the chaos, if that’s possible.

          Livable: yes. Lived IN: yes. Sterile, spotless and boring: no way!

          1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

            Lived in and livable sounds good to me. :)

  8. Pat October 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I’m glad Adelle sent me a link to your blog! I loved seeing the picture of your dining room table. Yesterday I posted a picture of everything I had cleaned off my dresser that was waiting on my bed to be put away. I have so much “extra” stuff that not all my possessions can have a home. That’s why I chose 31 Days of Letting Go as my project. Today as I was cleaning the bathrooms I thought I should reward myself with a cleaning service for a day when I get all the clutter dealt with. That seems like ‘Never Going to Happen’ but perhaps I can make it a ‘ That was a Great Idea, I’m glad I did it! ‘ Keep up the good work! You are doing a great job and good for you that being a mom has priority on your to do list.

    1. Sharilyne October 11, 2013 at 5:46 am

      I love that motivation! My issue with the cleaning lady is that she won’t do what I need done! There’s too much clutter! I think I’ll steal the motivational reward. Thanks for sharing. :)

    2. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Pat, I am all for your plan to hiring a cleaning service when you’re finished with decluttering! (Or have made some progress – whatever goal works for you!) I’ve been thinking about scheduling a deep clean for my house when I’m in the hospital delivering my baby in a few months. That seems reasonable, right?! :)

  9. Becca October 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    dude. I read that same post and thought “wonder when someone’s going to offer me a free cleaning lady?” anyone!?

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 11, 2013 at 9:18 am

      RIGHT?!? (I mean, how many times do I have to write/tweet/etc about hating cleaning to make this happen? Because I am WILLING to go that extra mile!) :)

  10. Kristy K. James October 11, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Hmm. I don’t consider wanting a cleaning lady as a sin…or coveting. A lot of Christian marriage experts tell women they should be like the wife in Proverbs 31…and that woman didn’t just have “a” maid. She had servants…as in plural. So I figure if God didn’t intend for Christian women to have servantS (or at least one), then He wouldn’t have mentioned it. That is my story…and I’m sticking to it. :)

    Until then, waking up to a fairytale would be fine, too., as long as there’s no wicked step-mother or icky frogs.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 11, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Kristy, I totally agree with you. I absolutely believe in delegating, outsourcing and just plain getting help when you need it. My envy is based on the fact that I can’t afford that help right now – and the frustration I feel for even needing it in the first place. My friend was teasing, of course, when she called it the 11th commandment – although in today’s information-sharing world, I imagine envy and discontent are some of the biggest things women struggle with! Yes, until then…glitter and fairy dust are welcome, but frogs are definitely not!

  11. Sharilyne October 11, 2013 at 5:38 am

    I live in delusion, not fairy tales. This means that when my table looks like yours (which is weekly) I sweep everything into a laundry basket to be dealt with later. In my mind, I’ll take care of it periodically throughout the week. What actually happens is I sweep it into the laundry basket, place it in my room where nobody else will see it and then feel guilty for not taking care of it every time I see it. I currently have 4 baskets to take care of! I am taking my laundry to the machine in armfuls instead of baskets! Now you can feel better about yourself. :)

    Oh and you are not the only woman who has coveted a cleaning lady. I recently drove down the street to visit my friend and saw her neighbor’s cleaning lady carrying her supplies into the house; immediately my heart was full of covetousness!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

      Oooooh, I’ve done that. Many times! Thankfully, this summer’s decluttering mania took care of some of that problem, but I still almost always have A PILE. Tomorrow when my family is over for dinner, I’ll stick the PILE on top of my fridge – and feel good that at least it’s small enough to (barely) fit up there! :)

  12. Victoria October 11, 2013 at 7:18 am

    I have given up the fairy tale in which I manage to clean the whole house from top to bottom in one day. It has not happened yet in my almost 19 years of homemaking and I am guessing it is not going to happen any time soon if at all in my life time.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

      I can pick up my whole house and maybe do a surface clean, but the kind of deep cleaning that I really wish someone would do around here? It never happens all in one day!

  13. Sara October 13, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Thanks so much for posting the pic of your table. I feel like this is how my house looks – and then I see someone else’s house who doesn’t – and I just don’t know how they do it. My daughter has left this year for college, and I really thought things would get better, but they aren’t. Can I blame it on my hub-bub?? Lol

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Well, your husband might disagree, but I say sure, go ahead and blame him! ;)

  14. Jerimi October 15, 2013 at 11:38 am

    There are many areas of my home that I’ve designated as “relaxed.” I’m working at my kitchen table today, so it’s covered in papers and highlighters and notebooks and my laptop… and a napping cat who knows he can only get away with it when I’m working.

    I don’t know that this will help with coveting, but about five years ago I decided a housekeeper was cheaper than divorce. $60 a month keeps my husband and I from fighting over housework. Totally worth it. Have you priced it in your area? It might be less expensive than you think.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      My cats are annoyingly attracted to my table, too. :) And YES, I think hiring someone to clean is totally worth it. Last year I had someone come in once a month for about three months. It was nice – and not THAT expensive – but she didn’t do a great job after the first time. So we parted ways and now I have “find someone new to clean” on my to-do list. Until then…I’m trying not to envy the people who have already crossed that item off their to-do or wish lists! :)

  15. Vanderbilt Wife October 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Ah yes. I totally live in the delusion that one day I will be a fantastic housekeeper. I’ll just have to work full-time so I can’t get it dirty (NOPE), stay at home (NOPE), move someplace smaller (NOPE). I like to pretend that someday the kids will be grown and it will be clean but it’s looking doubtful.

    Where are those magical squirrels when you need em?

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Haha! I swore that when I stayed home, my house would be cleaner. Um, wrong again!

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