I have developed a new, exciting concept. It is called ‘The Big Clean.’
It came about as a result of our cleaner – who used to dissolve all of our dirt here once a week, with fantastic amounts of cleaning product (OK, not so fantastic if you’re an environmentalist) – just evaporating. Please note: I’m not BLAMING the cleaning products for the sudden disappearance of our cleaning lady. She just vanished. Gone. Puff. Just like that.
I didn’t sack her. No. Even though she arrived late on many occasions. Some occasions she didn’t actually arrive at all. But when she did appear at the house, I became alive because I knew that all-of-that-nasty-dirt-would-just-disappear. Without me having to do anything.
Well, apart from tidying for the whole of the previous day. And then for another three hours in the morning before she arrived. And naturally, I would make sure the sink wasn’t actually too dirty. Or a ring hadn’t formed around the bath. Or an unclean towel didn’t hang on the rail. Apart from those small, un-exhausting things, I didn’t prepare at all.
My children paid particular attention to aid and abet me in my un-preparedness, with exceptionally high standards (not that I like to brag): leaving crap lying in the freshly tidied hall, including used underwear, of course; spilling dairy and non-dairy items across the once clean dining table; abandoning litter items in close proximity to the bin but not actually in it.
But in place of all this family wear and tear, our cleaner would provide shining surfaces and space in which to breathe.
Finishing at lunch time, she would wave us a fond farewell with those magic hands and truthfully, for an hour or two the house looked and felt lovely and I had an inner peace. My husband experienced none of this because by dinner time he couldn’t tell the cleaner had actually been. In the early days, he did sometimes feel the need to ask me if we really needed a cleaner at all. Can you believe that?
Anyway I had my cleaner. I loved my cleaner. But sadly, like most good things, that period has come to an abrupt and somewhat distressing end. I knew the end was nigh, of course. I only hired her because I had a knee op and I couldn’t cope with a house and crutches and four kids and no afternoon school and a garden and trying to remember what an iron is for and cleaning too.
Then I had a few difficulties ‘letting go’.
Between finger operations, shingles, ADHD impulses, purpura, getting to know doctors in various clinics and hospitals on a first name basis, homework, washing, shovelling snow, cooking for a family of
500 six (The Hungries) dealing with hormonal outbursts (true, they were mostly mine) and did I mention general exhaustion? I hadn’t found the time to come to the realisation that we couldn’t really afford a cleaner.
I have been living in a delusional, idyllic reality that I could actually afford the support that the cleaner brought.
But folks, it was good while it lasted.
Now, if you can attempt to comprehend the level of my fantasy then perhaps you will also have some compassion for the length of time it took for me to bump down to reality.
At first, I assumed that the cleaning lady would return at some point and magic the growing level of dust and not-so-good bacteria away.
Meanwhile, in a brave attempt at assisting her, I tried sneezing some of the dust aside.
But she did not hear the call of my sneezes or the muffled squeaks of the bacteria (now somewhat engulfed by dust) and at some point the penny dropped and I just knew: I had to clean the damn house by myself.
And that dear people, is when I came up with the most amazing, truly wonderful, incredibly clever plan.
‘The Big Clean’.
It goes like this:
- I write out a list of all the jobs to be done
- I write on a small piece of paper the title ‘Points’ and underneath the names of each of the children and stick it up for all to see
- I allocate jobs to the children and when they are done WELL they receive 1 point which is then noted on the points paper
I sit back and eat chocolate I also allocate jobs to my husband and myself
- The children are not given points for tidying their own mess i.e. their room, washing etc only for the communal jobs
- Cash prizes are allocated dependent on points received, in our not so rich situation that is: EUR 2 for the winner, second place EUR 1, and third and fourth both earn 50 cents
- Lazy non-committed helpers are not rewarded
- I offer encouragement by yelling who has the most points around the house
The benefits of the scheme are:
- We save a shit load of money
- The children learn how to look after a house
- It’s much quicker than me doing all of the work on my own
- It’s much easier than me doing all of the work on my own
- I like it MUCH BETTER than doing all of the work on my own
- Everyone sees just how much work I have to do
- I have more time to blog
- I don’t have to go through the rigmarole of finding another cleaner and learning to trust them in my home
- I can’t afford another cleaner, so now I actually live in reality
- The children (sometimes) earn some money
- The house is clean and I’m not embarrassed when an unexpected visitor rings the bell
- The children don’t like their hard work being messed up and are then more clean and tidy (OK that bit isn’t off to a flying start, but I’m being optimistic)
- During the clean, I enter a room and people are trying to fix it rather than mess it up after I’d fixed it only 15 minutes before.
‘The Big Clean’ scheme is copyrighted. Should you wish to partake in ‘The Big Clean’ yourself with your own family (and the writer very much advises it) payment should be made to Sarah May. She takes money in any form. Whatever the currency or payment type she accepts PayPal, Cash, Credit or debit Card (for your information she is also partial to flowers, chocolates, cake and gold bars).
So as not to bore the children completely, we decided to partake in ‘The Big Clean’ once a fortnight. I alone am responsible for the little cleans that take place throughout the week.
So far the concept works perfectly. Well, apart from a little glitch at the weekend. Joni found herself absorbed in
a birthday party, a book, long lies, homework and thus couldn’t take part. Reini, exhausted from being at home for three weeks needed to prepare for going back to work. Akasha followed the call of the play park. Lori sort to make things rather than to tidy them away. Aden found more fun in trying to burn the house down.
And me? Er… I just forgot!