My day typically starts at 5:00am. The time is strategic: any earlier and I miss out on much-needed sleep; any later and I risk showering with my toddler son sitting on the floor, asking me every 15 seconds if I’m done yet. In between me getting ready and our daughter waking up, my husband either entertains our son or gets ready himself, depending on the day and what is more helpful to our schedule. By 7:00am, everyone is (mostly) dressed, fed and ready to get out the door.
The kiddos are dropped off at daycare (hats off to Ms. Bess for accepting us no matter what condition we arrive in) and I am in my office by 7:45. My husband Jason is close behind me, and thus we begin a full day at work — meetings, classes to teach, students to guide and direct, endless emails, tours, and so on. One of us arrives to pick up the kids around 5:00pm, and it’s home for dinner, baths, and bed — for the kids AND for mommy many nights. Hit repeat for five, sometimes six, days in a row and you have life with our crazy wonderful family.
Despite our busy schedule, I often feel like I should be all things to all people, doing all I can to hold it together.
Jason suggested we hire someone to help us with one thing —cleaning. I was adamantly against it. I did not grow up with someone cleaning our house, I did not and do not (so I thought) have friends that have help and I saw it as a luxury. My answer? We simply needed to be more efficient with our time and pitch in for each other more.
But I’m a working mom. We’re working parents. We have jobs that require odd hours at times, and children that need love and dedication all the time. As much as I wanted to find the extra minutes, I wasn’t sure where they were coming from or what else I would be sacrificing to get them. So I caved. I agreed to one month of two visits with someone who would clean our bathrooms, floors, and dust if needed. Jason promised that if I didn’t see it as necessary after that time, we would wash our hands of it all and go back to the way things were.
To come home on a Friday evening after a 10-hour workday, thinking you’d find the spilled milk from that morning still on the floor, and instead see shiny hardwood and crumb-free carpet….it’s a kind of euphoria I have never experienced. Have you ever cried tears of joy? Because that’s what I did when looked around my clean living room. And that Saturday, instead of spending the morning scrubbing the tile in the kitchen as I would have typically done, I made breakfast. I folded laundry. I painted with my babies. I was present.
Three months later and we still have someone coming every other week to help us maintain the tidiness. It doesn’t mean that we’re not taking care of our house in between time — toddlers are messy people and I average four vacuum sessions a day, plus the constant running around with a wet rag in hand. What it does mean? My children and my husband have more time with me. They have a mom and a wife that is less stressed, and honestly, more accepting of our circumstances.
I always want a clean home, but these days, that comes with someone else’s help. When I’m playing with my kids instead of wringing out a mop, I’m okay with that.