Another Dee Story – Children Terrorizing the Maid

Posted in Dee Stories, Family Legends, Hiring A Maid at 11:33 am

Dee, a respectable matron whose words flow with the gentle music of the south, gave me another story of how she terrorized Ida, her family’s maid, and with the exception of her family, the most loved person in Dee’s childhood.

The day started innocently enough. Dee and a young man from next door were playing together. Ida fixed the two of them nice sliced bananas & mayo on soft white bread sandwiches for lunch. I am assured that this was a Southern favorite and really quite good. (I thought deep fried bread was good when I was young so who am I to make comments?)

After lunch, Ida left the butcher knife used to slice the bananas on the table to dry while Dee and her friend went out to run around the yard. Dee was soon hit with inspiration. She led her young friend into the house where she directed him to smear catsup on her arm and the knife. She then started screaming for Ida that there had been an accident.

Ida came running in, turned white (not her normal color), and raced for the phone. Ida and the operator did not enjoy a state of mutual respect (completely Dee’s fault) but the operator knew her job and connected Ida to Dr. Adams. Ida sputtered out the situation and the Doctor arrived in moments.

Dee and her friend were not idle. As fast as they could, they washed Dee’s arm and the knife and ran out to the swing. When Dr. Adams arrived they assured him that they didn’t know what Ida was talking about – Perhaps she had been napping and had had a nightmare?

When Dee’s father came home he didn’t know quite what to make of the story since he had Ida threatening to leave on one hand and a pair of children saying she had a nightmare on the other. Dee does wonder if her father was part of the growing crowd that thought poor, tee-totaling Ida was tippling on the job.

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.


A Welcoming Bathroom

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 9:52 am

Most bathrooms can be improved with three simple steps.

  1. Have a guest basket.

     Having a maid tends to make you reduce the clutter that is out and about. (Even if you’re the maid.) Reversing this and putting everything a visitor might want in a bathroom in a basket greatly increases your visitor’s enjoyment of their visit. A broken nail or dry eyes may not rise to the level of needing to speak to the hostess at a dinner party, but if your guest can take care of the problem promptly, they will be more comfortable.

    My mushroom-basket contains:

    •  spray deodorant (I think it is a teenage need, but someone sure uses it),
    • anti-cling spray,
    • dry eye drops (individual packets are available at the super stores),
    • small clear pouch with nail clipper and tweezers,
    • small sewing kit – needles thread & safety pins (although my skills make a stapler more appropriate),
    • toilet paper roll,
    • additional hand towels,
    • hand lotion
    • small baby powder
    • small mouthwash (probably for teenagers, my husband kisses me as soon as he finishes the garlic bread)
    • sunscreen,
    • bug spray,
    • a zippered pouch with sanitary supplies,
    • tissues and
    • hair spray (my guests use it for ink stains, not hair, as far as I know)
    • It’s technically not in the basket, but I also put a box of wipes on the floor by the toilet to clean anything that might not be up to my guests standards (What I really hope is that the males in my family use it – see Stephanie’s comment on the last post).

    Send Eco-elegant flowers

  2. Empty the medicine cabinet
  3. There are absolutely appalling statistics* on the number of people who go sight-seeing through other people’s medicine cabinets and even worse stories about people pilfering prescription medicines from their neighbor’s homes. I moved all my aspirins, etc. to a high shelf in the kitchen. A locked first aid kit attached to a kitchen closet wall might have been better. (I’m fortunate that, unless you’re a dog, my medicine cabinet is pretty sparse.)

    *Everyone cites a 40% at parties snoop statistic but there doesn’t seem to be any real research available on this.

  4. Wash your toothbrushes, cups, etc in the dishwasher on sanitiary cycle
  5. I normally haul everyone’s toothbrushes, cups, and other oral hygene stuff down to the dishwasher once a week. If anyone has a cold, I do it once/day. This may have no discernable impact in a house of adults but I’m reasonably certain that if I put my son’s toothbrush under a microscope before & after there would be a discernable difference.


More Trash and the Maid

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 5:37 pm

Send in more maid stories – I couldn’t even begin to make this stuff up –

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My in-laws returned from a 3-week trip the other day. They are are a lovely, slightly elderly couple. My mother-in-law is a slight, cultured woman who is always immaculately dressed and coiffed. They, with the help of their maid, maintain an immaculate home.

While they were gone the maid came in to clean and water the plants. The maid is a nice, conscientious, personable girl from Poland with a reasonable command of English. Before my in-laws came back she collected the trash (paper towels & the like), walked it passed the doorman, dumped it in the garbage shute and stopped to chat with the doorman.

He, too, is a nice young man who likes to help out the tenants. He gave the maid the pile of mail that had been accumulating and they chatted a bit more. Not wanting to drop any of the numerous pieces of mail, she put it in the clean trash can (she’s Polish – they scrub the trash can each time they empty it) and walked it back to the apartment.

Needless to say, my mother-in-law neglected to check the trash before emptying it when she came back. She did, however, comment on the small amount of mail she’d received while they were gone, in the hearing of the maid. Their next activity was to go through the building trash until they found the mail with several large checks in it.

I do sort-of wonder if she still thinks I’m crazy for checking the trash after the maid comes.


Is My Maid Stealing?

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 2:21 pm

Conventional wisdom seems to hold that all maids pilfer. If you’ve found a maid through networking this is almost certainly not true. Most maids have a very good grasp of the fact that, like Caesar’s wife, they must be above suspicion. They want to keep their jobs and get recommendations.

Maids are easy to blame – any time my husband’s wallet fails to make it to the nightstand someone is accused of stealing it. Invariably the thief takes her ill-gotten gains and hides them in the washing machine. Obviously the maid we hire isn’t very bright since she always hides it in the same spot.
 Fear of being thought a thief can lead to the failure to clean closet floors or drawers unless you are very insistent – if she doesn’t clean it you won’t think she’s been tempted by the emergency stash you keep in your sock drawer.

Someone I knew had a maid for years. Suddenly, the emergency stash she kept in her drawer started to lose money periodically. Of course the maid was blamed, but because of her long service she was never confronted. The fact that this occurred during a period when my acquaintance’s teenage son was bringing friends to an empty home for lunch each day never set off any alarm bells.

The Maid and the Toilet Paper

Everyone I know buys toiletries at a superstore and is mildly certain that the maid helps herself when she needs soap. That children or husband might replenish the bathrooms with soap never crosses their minds. (OK, it is hard to believe, I admit.)
If you seriously think your maid is pilfering you owe it to her to monitor the soap before and after she comes. A month should be long enough to convince you that the soap only goes down in the pantry when it increases in the bathrooms.

Sometimes, if you are truly anal, you will note that the fresh roll of toilet paper left the pantry and found its way to the bathroom but the old roll had only been half used. Presumably you don’t think your maid is a victim of Montezuma’s Revenge (you think of a polite way of putting it). Obviously your maid must be risking her job to stuff the half-finished toilet roll in her purse. If you had followed my advice and taken out the trash before the maid came and checked the trash she did throw away, your suspicions would change radically. Your maid is not a thief – she is just crazy.

Maids like places that they have cleaned to look nice. Money is no object to you – after all – you’re paying someone else to clean your house when you could do it very easily yourself. Rather than leave a roll of toilet paper that your child will probably use without replacing before you get to see the lovely job your maid did – the maid changes to a fresh roll. At least you won’t look at the bathroom (left otherwise spotless since said child probably snuck out without washing his hands because you haven’t said ‘wash your hands’ 587 times this month) and ask why didn’t she change the empty roll.

Checking the trash can also lead to the somewhat disconcerting discovery of half the jewelry in the house ending in the vacuum bag. Earrings fall behind the nightstand and the maid doesn’t see them, or drawers aren’t emptied before cleaning and the small pile of earrings in your daughter’s drawer find their way into the vacuum.

The one time I know that my maid took something was from a friend’s, on my behalf. I hadn’t bought new vacuum cleaner bags & the maid, having a good sense of my tendency to need to be reminded before I replace cleaning supplies, borrowed one from one of my friends. She made it very clear that she was using Linda’s bag and that I would need to pay Linda back (by giving the maid one of the bags out of the fresh batch to take back to Linda.) It did absolutely nothing about my procrastination in buying cleaning supplies but it did make me appreciate how important it was to my maid not to be thought a thief.

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.


Cleaning the Bedroom

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 9:09 pm

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Unless your bedroom is lined with bookshelves, it is one of the fastest rooms to clean. Just make sure your maid doesn’t go too fast.
Drawers accumulate dirt. I really don’t understand this since all that goes into them is clean laundry. Perhaps the Journal of Irreproducible Results can investigagte this at some point. At any rate you want your maid to get rid of the dirt. Make sure she understands that things are supposed to be removed from the drawer before it is vacuumed. I once had a maid that thought the dust would leave and the earrings in my daughter’s drawer would magically stay if she just vacuumed without emptying the drawer first.

Bedroom Instructions


Penni’s Story

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 9:13 am

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.

Getting the Job You Want From Your Maid

Not everyone is comfortable with giving their maid a job description in the form of lists. Sometimes the language barrier is too great and sometimes the employer is just crazy. Penni Perfect’s maids have always been wonderful people from the local community who speak English perfectly.

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Penni’s home is perfect – everything always in it’s place and well cleaned. Her perfect husband (what other kind would Penni have?) is well trained. He always puts his plates in the sink and in wild and crazy moments he flings his laundry to the bottom of the stairs by the laundry room. How she (or perhaps his mother?) trained him to recognize a relationship between the pants that just left his feet and himself is beyond me. Both my husband and son stare at their dirty pants like they have never seen them before should they be asked to put them in the hamper. All guests are trained to put cutlery in the dishwasher sharp ends up.

Penni expects her maid to know how to clean a room. Should said maid miss an area and dust accumulate (gasp!,) Waldo comes to the rescue.

Waldo is a 6” high plastic Waldo figure based on the Where’s Waldo series. In these terrific books Waldo hides in wonderfully detailed drawings. The reader has to find Waldo.

In Penni’s house Waldo hides in the dust. The maid cleans odd nooks and crannies until she finds Waldo. Both Penni & her maid think this is fun and a great, non-confrontational way to get across an area that’s been overlooked.


Rules for the Maid

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 12:20 pm

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.

Hopefully your new maid is using a checklist and working on one room at a time when she comes. Kitchen and bathroom are already available; I will be posting more. Once you’ve had her go through each room and confirmed that she understands the checklists, it’s time to start moving towards normal home maintenance.

Before you introduce your maid to the game of speed cleaning – which she probably really already knows,  take time to go over your views on general cleaning.  If it’s in writing she can get a friend to check her translation to avoid misunderstandings.  I found the following useful to go over with my maid.:

  •  Laundry found anywhere should go to the floor outside the laundry and cups/dishes to the kitchen, but please tell me about it – the kids are suppose to put their own away.
  • Do not worry about vacuuming up or throwing away anything ‘important’. I will check all trash & the vacuum bag before it is tossed. Please therefore do not put coffee grounds or other wet things in with the trash you find around the house – put them in a separate bag.
  • Wash all floors with 2 Tablespoons vinegar to each bucket of water. Please change frequently by emptying into toilet.
  • Please check all rooms when you are finished:
      • for cleaning supplies left in room
      • that pictures are straight
      • that carpets & curtains are back to their proper position
  • Be careful to clean all lights when off and cool. The halogen lights can give a bad burn.
  • Do not let Windex (TM) (any ammonia solution) and Comet (TM) (any bleach-based scouring power) mix –they will give off chlorine, a poisonous gas that can kill you.
  • If you unplug something to plug in the vacuum cleaner, please plug it back in again.
  • Shelves must be cleaned 1 at a time & the things on that shelf must go back to that shelf. Do not put things back on the wrong shelf.
  • In the pantry multiple items should be stacked from front to back.

One maid created beautiful rows – largest cans in back, smallest in front. Needless to say, I couldn’t get at anything in the back without destroying her work of art. I drew (feeble) pictures.

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Potty Talk – Cleaning the Bathroom

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 9:03 am

By now the maid has finished her time in the kitchen and needs to hit the other rooms in the house. Bathrooms are definitely an area you want her to concentrate on.

Send Eco-elegant flowers

I have a lot of surfaces I want cleaned every time she comes. I can live with her washing the plastic shower curtain liner once a month. If she took everything out of the bottom of the sink cabinet and dusted every 3 months I might not notice. (Don’t ask what I’ve hidden there – I think there are bath toys from when my children were small – great when my kids babysit a small child but not an everyday item.)  The original ceiling fans in the bathrooms weren’t really up to several showers in succession. I wanted the ceiling wiped every time, now it’s not quite as important. Every other surface I want cleaned every time.

Here’s the checklist:

Cleaning the Bathroom Instructions

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.


Does a Maid Destroy Your Child’s Character?

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 8:26 pm

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.

Everyone knows of the stereotype of the son of the Lord of the Manor dallying with the new maid. Or you would if you were partial to regency romances. This is no longer a problem with a maid since one’s progeny can dally pretty much wherever they please if they are so inclined.

Having a maid when you have children, particularly young ones, is a life-saver. After a long day of work one does not have to try to have quality time with one’s children while scrubbing toilets. If a maid is keeping the dust mites down you can spend time volunteering to improve your child’s school or community. Maid’s can vastly improve the quality of life you give your children.

There’s just one little problem. It is very easy for children to become accustomed to having someone clean up after them. Given a choice between ignoring piles of shredded love notes that are probably large enough to be a fire hazard and a screaming match to get it cleaned up, it’s easier to chose inaction if you know the maid will be there tomorrow.

No problem you think. My children, stellar examples of humanity that they are, will have their own maids when they grow up. They haven’t really lost a significant life skill. Perhaps not, but you might be horrified to know that your child goes through school treating teachers, librarians and other staff as if they were paid to clean up after your darling child. The children are not rude about it; just unconscious of such things as the impact of every child leaving books taken out of the bookshelves where ever they land instead of on the return cart. Meanwhile, of course, Librarians and other staff with masters and doctorates are doing a slow burn because they are being treated like maids.

Ideally you would imbue your child with your mother’s maid ethic and get them to clean their rooms before the maid comes. This takes the least time long-term and is the least stressful. If you just can’t do it try task time.

Task time is the time when the family (husbands may be excused – we’re not looking for miracles) works on a set of tasks tailored to each individual. Small children get short lists with big check boxes in colorful fonts. Their lists may include eating, getting bathed, getting dressed, making their bed, picking up 20 things in their room and washing the dog bowl. Their lists should cover a number of easy items they can do themselves, taking care of their space with your help, and tasks that contribute to the whole family.

As children get older tasks should take up a 2-4 hour block. I’ve found teaching children to organize closets and other areas results in a home kept in better order, a sense of pride in a legitimate skill and the potential for a lucrative summer job.

There are never guarantees, but hopefully making sure your children spend a significant part of their life taking care of their home will increase the respect they have for others.

Trash and the Maid

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 12:50 pm

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.

It’s a dirty subject but someone has to tackle it. It shouldn’t be your maid. I strongly recommend that you take out the trash before the maid comes.

Maids are in the business to make your house look nice and to clean it.  They have a very strong inclination to throw out anything that is making the house look not nice. It doesn’t matter if it’s your son’s half-finished pinewood derby project or your great-grandmother’s vase that cracked & you want to get restored by Pierre the Expensive’s Fine Art Restoration Service. A Maid is not going to give a lot of thought to the question of whether or not you treasure the broken item she’s found. She’s more likely to worry that you’ll blame her for breaking it if you see it.

Worse, when she’s dusting shelves you have no guarentee that she’ll even see the pair of earrings carefully placed on a high shelf for safety. When she dusts and something goes flying, she may or may not identify the correct thing under the bed that came from the shelf. (It could just as easily have been fishing weights from my husband’s pocket, which have accumulated in odd corners.)

I know this is bizarre, and is probably why I don’t use my last name on this site, but after the maid comes I check the vacuum bag and the rest of the trash that my maid finds to throw out.  I have found my great-aunt’s silver & tortise shell comb in a set of boxes one maid took out for me. I had planned to move the boxes to the attic for future panarama projects for the kids. Imagine my shock when I realized the comb had fallen from the dresser into the box when I went to retrieve them.

I have discovered that the maid service vacuumed out my kid’s drawers – including the contents of my daugther’s jewelry box – filled with expensive earrings from Grandma.  Every one was there in the trash. I would have been convinced the maid was stealing. They weren’t – just rushing.

Every week I have found something I would have rather they didn’t throw away – ususally my son’s small lego toy pieces – he cannot grasp that legos should be built on a table and all the peices are needed. Not infrequently there’s more valuable stuff.

Even if you don’t go through the trash every week but have taken out the trash before the maid comes, the one week you are missing your diamonds you only have to check a small amount of trash. And you won’t blame your maid for stealing.