This week my cleaning people (who’ve been cleaning for us approximately 8 years) broke up with our family…
over a text.
Apparently, our house was like a “first time” clean for the past year, and we didn’t make the cut.
It felt like a bad flashback from high school as I read through the break-up text. I felt like a 15-year-old transported back to my first high school break-up that was absolutely crushing.
Now, in fairness to my house cleaners-my house is freaking MESSY. I have a sign in my kitchen that says, “Memories last, clean houses won’t.” I have two very large dogs who track in more mud than you can possibly imagine. My daughter has a collection of Squishmallows that have taken over the entirety of her room. My closet sort of looks like a bomb went off in it.
Yet, my messy house aside-this text breakup actually hurt me.
I know what you’re thinking, “Lady, they’re your house cleaners…what’s the actual problem. Your life is pretty charmed.”
I would agree. My life is pretty damn charmed. I promise this isn’t my biggest problem-but for some reason it triggered all these huge inadequacies I battle with.
First, these ladies were like family to me. We exchanged holiday gifts, talked about our lives every month and one of them regularly wore a penguin shirt to make my daughter smile (she loves penguins). I saw them as part of my village because I overcommit my life and they were my awesome helpers.
I also have a horrible time asking for help. Hard stop. I suck at it.
So, it was extremely vulnerable allowing these two ladies in my house to see how messy my real life is while I’m crushing all my dreams.
It also triggered these weird-ass feelings that somehow my mess is unmanageable. I’m too much. Asking for help is silly even when you’re paying for it. All of this shit has nothing to do with my cleaning peeps and everything to do with me.
After a week of thinking through this, I have come to some very important conclusions. Per usual, these conclusions are my own and only include my lens of reality. They are my truth, but not everyone’s’ truth. Take the ones that speak to you.
1. Setting Expectations is Important: I’ve been working in HR for 1,000 years (okay, not really), and this is one of our favorite sayings. If people don’t know your expectations, it’s quite impossible for them to meet them.
This week many people have communicated that having expectations is silly-but I call bullshit. As a former enabler/co-dependent, I used to have ZERO expectations and people walked all over me because I allowed it. In reality, we all have expectations. Your boss has expectations of you. Your friends have expectations of you. Your partner has expectations of you. Communicating those expectations is KIND.
I love my cleaning people so much. I want them to be satisfied with their work in our household. I want them to feel happy, fulfilled and compensated fairly for their efforts.
If there were items that needed to be completed prior to them cleaning, I would’ve welcomed the feedback. If they wanted more money for the tremendous value they brought to our home-I would’ve happily paid it. I’m sure they were thinking, “Come on lady. You can’t believe this level of cleanliness is normal.” Well, it’s normal to…ME.
Bottom line: In business or in our personal relationships-it’s freaking KIND to communicate what we expect. Hinting around what seems “obvious to you” isn’t necessarily “obvious to me”. It sort of sucks if you’re judging someone on a standard they aren’t even aware of…ya know?
2. In-person conversations matter when it’s an important topic: As an introvert, I avoid talking on the phone at all costs. I prefer texting. However, there are certain topics that require in-person connection. Ugh. I’d rather not do it either. However, when we’re having a hard conversation, text is the easy way out. Plus, we say shit over text we would NEVER say in person. So, be brave. Face someone. Have the hard conversation. I am ALWAYS working on this too.
3. Assume the best: People aren’t usually trying to piss you off on purpose. No really, they’re not. We are hard-wired to create stories. When we don’t have hard conversations, we often assume the worst about people. We believe they’re trying to intentionally piss us off on purpose. Usually, that’s not the case at all. Another HR tip someone way smarter than I am gave me, “When people aren’t acting like they usually do-they’re probably going through something themselves.” So, if your friend doesn’t call you all week like they usually do-it’s probably because they’re dealing with some hard things. Instead of assuming the worst…check in to make sure they’re okay.
4. When you’re triggered, explore the parts that are more about you than them: It took me an entire week to realize the core of my hurt around my cleaning people breaking up with me was…I have a hard time asking for help. I often feel like I give more in relationships than people give me. These are my own issues to deal with. They have nothing to do with my cleaning gals. I have to constantly work on these hard truths: It is okay to ask for help. Rejection is actually redirection to something better. We are all a work in progress. Being messy doesn’t mean I’m a bad partner or mom-it just means I align my priorities elsewhere…like owning a business, writing a book, being emotionally available for my children…and accepting my house takes a backseat.
Your Emotionally real, messy friend,
p.s. I’ll host the party-but you can’t go upstairs.