I finally broke down and called a maid service. Well, actually, I called four maid services. One never showed up to do their estimate or called to tell me why (OK, we're going to call that one 'off the list'), one was silly-expensive (excuse me? $250 a week, are you mad?!), one answered the phone with, "Yeah?" and then proceeded to be unsure about whether or not his wife (the maid service) was still "doing that" (hoooookay, gonna call that one off the list, too), and finally got hold of our local Molly Maids, who were pleasant on the phone, in line with my expectations cost-wise and who (gasp!) showed up right on time to walk through my filthy Den and give me a contract for de-filthing it.
They were to come Monday morning, she said. It would be a good thing if we could declutter before they arrived, she added with gentle reproach (what, so it looks like a Toys-R-Us truck slammed into our house and exploded its innards all over it…). Not that they wouldn't throw the toys into the toybox for us, but…time is money you know...
So I spent the weekend decluttering the Den.
I got the massive piles of laundry off my dresser and put away – but I didn't then dust the dresser.
I put away my earrings, the hair pins and ties, the brushes, the 'refill' package of toilet paper and the nine hundred little bottles of assorted facial unguents guaranteed! to make me look less haglike – but I didn't then clean the bathroom.
Picked up the toys and threw them into the toybox – but didn't then vacuum, dust, remove the spiderwebs from the window runners, and sanitize the doorknobs.
Weirdest. Feeling. Ever.
And yet, remarkably, I got the entire Den decluttered in only a few hours. It was a lot of clutter. I thought it would take months to get through all that clutter – but focusing purely on the clutter and not the filth around, over and under it, it actually got put away really, really fast. I even got through my handle-it-handle-it drawer, packaged up and filed away last year's paperwork, and made new file folders for the new stuff we've got this year.
I was on fire, baby.
At precisely 8:00 Monday morning, two ladies pulled up in a little pink car, unloaded about six hundred pounds of cleaning implements, and went to work.
Five hours later, the entire Den was clean.
All of it. Every single room. Dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed, from the ceiling fans to the baseboards. Even the window runners. Showers: Sparkling. Cabinets: Glowing. Beds: Neatest they've been in months.
By 6:00 that evening, I had even washed, folded and put away all the laundry that needed doing.
I'm not used to having Nothing Whatsoever To Do on the housework front. Since I usually clean in 'zones' (the front room on Monday, the office and downstairs bathroom on Tuesday, etc.), there is always some room that hasn't been touched in a week (or more).
It was weird to have a little pause in the day and think, I really should go clean the girls' bathroom – oh wait! It's already clean!
At first, it made me feel oddly resentful. Redundant. Guilty. What kind of mother has strangers change the sheets on her kids' beds?! What's next, hiring a chef to come cook all their meals?! (Hmmmm…)
But I've gotten used to it. Don't worry about me, I'm fine.
I feel astonishingly less stressed out. It's as though a huge weight has lifted from me. I can ignore little spots on the hall tile, or fingerprints on the sliding glass door, or the sludge ring left on the tub by four filthy children. It's OK. The maids will be here Monday.
Even given how cheap I am, I have to say it: It's easily worth the money.
About that backyard…while there may well be a contest for Biggest Weed Ever, I don't think I really want to win it… unless of course, there's a money prize that might cover the cost of a gardener…