Monday, March 12, 2018


12 of 31 - SOLSC 2018

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers and part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge that takes place each Tuesday throughout the year and everyday in March. It is a supportive (and awesome!) community of those trying their hand at writing and encouraging others in their writing. Join us!

"And make sure your room gets cleaned up - it's Monday."

"Why does your mom need your room cleaned up on a Monday?" I ask.

"Tuesday is when we have someone come to clean the house," my friend replies.

I think I kept my jaw closed, but inside I was a whirl of questions. Someone else cleans your house? You have to clean up your room to have your house cleaned? Isn't that redundant? Someone else cleans your house?!

That conversation, in high school, opened my eyes to a world that I had no idea existed. When I was in college I actually took a job cleaning someone's house twice a month to make some money toward a financial goal I had set.

Also in college I had a friend who cleaned someone's house. What struck me about those conversations was the fact that they were required to vacuum so ALL of the vacuum lines ran parallel. What?! I can understand in large, open parts of a room, but how do you even do that with furniture everywhere? And, there couldn't be any footprints when they were finished.

When we moved overseas hiring someone as a 'helper' was part of the culture, the norm for expats. We balked at the idea. We were scraping pennies together at that point in our lives; luxuries included paying for haircuts and going to the movies. We didn't do either. 

After a couple of paychecks we realized that we could incorporate a helper into our budget and hired someone to come in once a week for four hours. She mopped all of the dust off our marble floors, cleaned the bathrooms, and made us a meal. We thought we were in heaven.

The following year we realized we could afford to have her come twice a week. The next year we added yet another day. The main thing was the dust. Living in Amman, where no one has air conditioning, you open your windows to cool off the house. Every evening as the sun goes down, about 7 p.m., a lovely breeze would start. It was fantastic for bringing down the temperature, but horrible when it came to dust. (Even with the windows closed, our windows were single pane, and only mostly kept some of the dust out.) You could have dusted and mopped twice a day and still have had a dusty home. Nevertheless, we loved our time in Jordan and appreciated having Anual working for us.

Our fantastic experience with a helper hasn't meant that we have always had help overseas. At times, due to circumstances within a country, part-time household help isn't available. Thankfully our first transition back to doing it ourselves was with in a home with wall-to-wall carpeting. Upon the next move we had both taken pay cuts to live somewhere amazing. Our second year there we decided to pay for piano lessons for our daughter and clean the house ourselves.

We are back to having a helper once a week. And I am now saying to my daughter, "Make sure your room gets cleaned up - it's Monday."


  1. Years ago, before I adopted my boys, I had someone come and clean twice a month. They did the bathrooms, mopped floors, etc. I loved it! I would give anything if I could afford that again! It frees up time for stuff I enjoy a lot more!

  2. Huh. Years ago, we had someone help once a week, and my wife did some of the same -- tidying things up before the cleaner arrived. I never understood it.

  3. I love this glimpse into some of the places you've lived and the choices you've made.

  4. This an interesting inside look at differences between cultures and within cultures in such an ordinary activity. Nicely crafted blend of informative and narrative.

  5. I love the way you go full circle reminding your own daughter to clean her room before the cleaner comes. We paid a friend to clean our house for a few years when the boys were little, and I could never stay ahead of it all and teach, too. I confess hurrying the boys in the morning to make sure their rooms were picked up and the beds made on the day Jeannie came.

  6. My aunt works two+ full time jobs and my uncle works full time as well. She has my grandmother come over to do the laundry for them and their three girls (ranging from 12-21). She also has someone who comes once a week to clean. I remember hearing her say something about cleaning up before the cleaning lady, which I found comical. It certainly is something that I wish I could afford!