A house cleaner tragic through and through, I’ve enjoyed cleaning my own house all my adult life. I find it meditative, creative and satisfying. But, at 80+ I finally decided to take the plunge and employ a cleaning firm that specialises in working in apartments.
While apartment living may not suit everyone our age, it works a treat for us. We plan to age in place here where we feel we belong.
There’s a list of some of my blogs about the joy of this lifestyle at the bottom of the page, if you’d like to find out some of the benefits. So far, we haven’t found a single downside. We right-sized and decluttered when we moved, so I’ve also added an article about that.
The benefits include the size and ease of cleaning a smaller space with fewer possessions.
The decision to employ someone now to do the heavy lifting took a while to make. But arthritis and an attack of bursitis last year, and its legacy of pain, pushed me to try, one more time to engage with a house-cleaner.
My history as a house cleaner tragic
My mother taught my sister Elizabeth and me to clean a house. She really took the task of educating her daughters very seriously. I wonder why our brother Peter was exempt?
My education continued while I trained to nurse the sick in the 1950s. In those days, everyone knew nurses were ‘good women’. And even if there was no need, we learned to clean!
Hospitals employed no such luxury as cleaners. We swept and dusted. Scrubbed and polished. Dusted high and low. Served the meals, and cooked some. Washed and rolled often bloody bandages. Oh! And made time to nurse the sick!
Cleaning my own house became second nature. No wonder that over the years, my attempts to employ someone to clean my house have failed spectacularly.
As a mere slip of a girl in my 50s, I gossiped one day with other women in the lunchroom at work.
‘Why would anyone our age spend hours cleaning, when they could get someone else to do it while they’re at work?’ one woman asked.
I wanted to be like my colleagues, professional woman. The cleaner who came seemed pleasant. She listened to what I wanted done. But after a few weeks when my daughters came to lunch, I saw them looking at each other.
‘Mum,’ one of them asked, ‘we’ve been wondering if you need your glasses checked. You don’t clean as well as you used to. You seem to have missed these splotches of what looks like pumpkin soup on the window-sill and curtains.’
Mortified, I went back to cleaning on Thursday mornings before work and bringing home a bunch of flowers that afternoon. I loved my little house and my reward.
When John and I married, I moved into his far too big house. His cleaner continued to arrive each week, sniffling into a tissue, with her cold-blue feet in thongs. I grew increasingly despondent. There were cobwebs behind the doors. The slate in the kitchen continued dull and dirty. When I asked the woman to do things my way responded angrily
‘John employed me,‘ she said. ‘Not you. I don’t need to take orders from you.’
A succession of people followed her. Students. Refugees. The newly unemployed or separated. They left as soon as they got permanent work or they decided cleaning not to their taste.
Back I went to cleaning a house far too big for two people. It might even have been the largest house I’d ever cleaned and it gave me no joy.
My luck seemed to change when we moved here. By that time, the washing machine and dryer had become too heavy for eighty+ year-old people to move. Air conditioning filters needed cleaning. Someone told me about her handyman, Carlo. Not a house cleaner, he became my go-to-man.
He whipped through the too-heavy chores in no time. Cheerful man, I loved him. But, when I called him a couple of weeks ago, he told me he’d taken permanent work and could no longer do my bidding.
House cleaner tragic no more?
Last week, I called a house-cleaning firm I found in a Google list. Crossed my fingers. Hoped this would work.
Two energetic young men appeared ten minutes before the appointed time. They brought with them lightly-scented cleaning products, a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner and a ladder.
They listened to my requests and got to work. Within a hour, the place sparkled and they were on their way. I’m delighted. Hopefully they’ll be happy to return in a month’s time.
I bought the celebratory bunch of flowers.
More blogs about my love of apartment living
Here are some of my blogs about living in an apartment as an older person or couple. Just click on the highlighted phrase to read.
- New apartment on the horizon.
- Apartment life delights.
- Six reasons why apartment living could be better than retirement village. This article also appeared in The West Australian.
Here’s an article about decluttering.