Cleaning Up for the Cleaning Lady

Every two weeks we have a household ritual known as Cleaning Up For the Cleaning Lady. If you’ve been visiting here for a while, you already know about my complete lack of skills when it comes to keeping house. But after many months of doing without, we have a new cleaning lady and our ritual is back in place. It involves clearing tables and counters, rounding up shoes and sorting through mail. The kinds of things most of you probably do on a daily basis. But at our house, not so much.

Once upon a time, cleaning ladies were like Hazel or Alice on the Brady Bunch. They were members of the family. They knew the inside of your underwear drawer as well as you did. They cleaned and cooked and gave out advice with packed lunches. Today it’s different. Today someone comes in while you’re away. They dust and mop and clean grout and wipe off mini-blinds.

I’ve daydreamed about being one of those people who is just naturally neat and organized. The kind of person who’s counters are never cluttered. With closets organized according to color, cloth and cut. I used to work with a person like that. This is an actual conversation we had one day when I was a few minutes late for work.

Me: Sorry I’m late. I couldn’t find my shoe.

Her: What do you mean?

Me: I couldn’t find my shoe.

Her: I don’t understand.

Me: (resisting the urge to speak louder) I. couldn’t. find. my. shoe. (I mean really–how hard is that to understand.)

Her: Your shoes are in the closet.

Me: No…your shoes are in the closet. My shoes are under the bed, outside on the deck, in the car…and there’s no guarantee that the two of them are together, either. So this morning I was late because I couldn’t find my shoe. Until I looked behind the couch and there it was.

She literally could not fathom a world in which shoes were not in their proper place. Unfortunately, she found herself in an office with two left-handed bleached blondes where spontaneity and chaos were the rule, not the exception.

I understand the concept that shoes belong in the closet. Honestly I do. 

But truly, the only person cleaning up at my house is the cleaning lady. And I don’t just mean the housework.


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13 responses to “Cleaning Up for the Cleaning Lady

  1. Ah, now see, I am very organized, and I know exactly where everything is. It’s just not where it’s “supposed” to be. Under my couch is a mop, broom, dustpan, and all sorts of cleaning supplies. My clothes are in the giant kitchen filing cabinet. I kept clean sheets, blankets, and towels above the television in one of those corner wall nets that kids use for stuffed animals.

  2. My Mom used to make us do this every single week. I simply could not fathom cleaning before the cleaner came. Sorry, but I still don’t!

  3. Julie Fisher

    I ALWAYS clean up before the maid comes. I mean, if I don’t put away all the dishes in the drainer she will put them away.. . and I’ll never find them again. Same thing with shoes, books I’m reading, lists I’ve made, gym clothes and on and on. They all must be put away so that I won’t have to search for them after her visit. Of course, as soon as she leaves, I must go around putting everything out again–the shoes, the books, the lists, everything.
    Some things are best AFTER the fact. Maids are one of those things.

  4. Little Sister

    Cindy…that is pitiful about your shoes. Its a good thing you didnt have kids or they would be walking around with one shoe on and the other lost. You really need to work on that…you must be adopted because my siblings are both neat and organized like me!

  5. hereinfranklin

    Rassles–giant kitchen filing cabinet? Would that be the stove? I would like to live in your head for just a day or two.

    Free Man–It’s simple–you don’t want the cleaner to actually think that you’re not clean.

    Julie–thank you for understanding. I knew you would.

    Sister–please don’t start that whole “you must be adopted” stuff again.

  6. Mother



  7. Considering the fact that Mr. C and I rent an OLD farmhouse with no closets, our shoes have every excuse in the world to not be where they are ‘supposed to be’.

    I’m jealous of your cleaning lady have-ness. With me being out of town three days a week (and hello! You can’t clean on the weekends!) the house can get pretty ugly!!

  8. Niece Lash

    I have that weird need but mine is with hotel rooms. I am compelled to clean the room up before housekeeping gets there.

  9. Julie Fisher

    Note to “Mother”: on contemplating the terms “maid” and “cleaning lady” I suspect that both are politically incorrect. But I suggest that “maid” is less politically incorrect than “cleaning lady”. I mean, shouldn’t it at least be “cleaning person”? How about “home sanitation facilitator”?

  10. Older Sister

    I agree “Little Sister”. That is too weird!!!! Maybe California Closets would be of help!!!

  11. I´m one of those that never has shoes in the closet, or anything where it´s supposed to be. I would love to be an organized person but it seems so time-consuming. But I guess organized people get all that time back when they never have to look for anything.

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