My mom has always told me that your space is a reflection of your mental state, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s hard to feel peaceful when you live in a place that’s full of clutter and crap. At the same time, it’s hard to feel stressed out when your environment is calming and relaxing. Because of this, I really value keeping our apartment neat. However, since Chris and I both work and travel a lot, this is not always possible. Even if the apartment isn’t actually dirty, it’s often in need of a good cleaning. Everything looks better when rugs are vacuumed and surfaces are cleaned and polished. For this reason, though we’re not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, we decided to get a cleaning lady.
It’s not as luxurious as it sounds. She comes once a month and does a thorough, deep cleaning. The rest of the days of the month, it’s up to us to keep the place looking presentable. But that one day a month makes so much of a difference, I can’t even tell you. She came yesterday, and it’s like the whole apartment breathed a sigh of relief. It’s noticeable in major ways (the floors are basically sparkling) and small ways (I can see my reflection in my faucets in my shower). Could I take a few hours one weekend and do it myself? Definitely, and I do. But there’s something about knowing that no matter how busy we’ve been we’ll have a clean apartment. It’s so worth it. Even if the place isn’t really bad when she comes, just having everything organized and wiped down makes such a difference.
At first, Chris and I had a fiery debate about whether or not we should hire someone. It’s $70 per cleaning session, which I thought was reasonable when split between two people, especially since we’re only having it done once a month. However, Chris thought that money would be better spent elsewhere, and that we should suck it up and remain committed to cleaning the place thoroughly, no matter how often we were working/traveling. That was all good in theory, except he is gone basically all of February and March, leaving me with all of the cleaning duties. I was not thrilled about that.
Eventually we compromised and decided to try it out one time. We agreed that if we liked it, we’d keep doing it, and if not then we at least we knew. After one session, the two of us were sold. She had all of these products I had never heard of, and was able to get the place way cleaner in two hours than I would have if I had spent all day on it. Now she comes once a month and I always look forward to it. Though we try to keep our space fairly neat in between cleaning sessions, it’s nice to know that the apartment will be all zen and sparkling after she’s done.
Not to get all Mr. Rogers on you here, but this cleaning lady subject also hits on a few bigger issues. They include:
- Compromise: Compromising in a relationship is really hard, especially if you’ve spent a long time being single or living alone. It’s no longer just about the things you want, you have to consider another person’s thoughts and point of view too. I was all about forking over some cash to get our place looking nice and peaceful. Chris is more of the “just the necessities” type, and thought it was a waste. Instead of automatically signing up for monthly cleanings or quickly disregarding the idea, we had to compromise. It turned out that we both ended up feeling good about it, but it took a little while to get there.
- Treatin yo’ self: When you don’t have a ton of money, you have to be careful how you spend what you do have. One meal at a restaurant too many and suddenly you’re thinking, “Umm, when is pay-day again?” But there’s a fine line between being careful and forgetting to splurge sometimes. Would I recommend going out and buying a $700 purse? Probably not. But spending a reasonable amount of money to make your living situation more comfortable (and therefore your mental state more relaxed) definitely feels worth it to me.
Even if you don’t want a cleaning lady, I’d suggest taking an analytical look and making sure you’re making room for the things that really matter to you, regardless of budget. Don’t go overboard, but let yourself enjoy things that make you feel good and help you to relax. Maybe that’s a meal in a restaurant every once in a while, or a nice bottle of wine. As the commercials say, you’re worth it, right?