I'm not exactly certain what has happened to me, but I seem to have hit a tipping point.
Yesterday, before our bi-monthly cleaning person arrived, I spent four hours picking up the house (I always pick up before she gets here, or what would be the point of having someone in to do the rough- the bathrooms and floors, in particular).
But I overtidied. I went beyond any tidy that I have reached before. So much so that H. went through her alloted cleaning chores within 4 hours rather than her usual 5, and when I went looking for her discovered that she had thrown a load in the wash and was slowly folding the load in my dryer. Well, I don't like that. When my laundry is ruined, I want to do it myself (and I have- I find that dryers in particular run hot here) and she threw my "intimates" and the kids' delicates (you know, frilly, frothy, sequiny, Princess-picture covered) into a very hot, very fast wash rather than the cold, delicate cycle . I'm strangely OCD about my laundry, and I have been hanging those items all over the walls and just picked up an actual line dryer at Ikea (4.95 Euros- whotta bargain).
What annoyed me was not that she did these things without asking when she had never done them nor been asked to do them (okay, I was annoyed) but that she not only came 15 minutes late, finished an hour early and didn't ask to actually do anything (I had her change the sheets when I found her, something I haven't asked before) while avoiding me (next time the refrigerator will be her special chore). She then changed and was ready to be paid 15 minutes early, or 30 minutes under the time I pay her for (with an additional 30 minutes blow off time and two 15 minute cigarette breaks).
So I paid her for 5 hours while she did 3:45 worth. That will change next time. It's a problem that Lynda would recognize, because H speaks only Polish and was recommended to me by the person who cleaned our temporary housing (she herself didn't have time but was great). So talking to her even to just arrange times has been a total hassle. I think that I will move her hours back to 4, and if she has a problem, we will part ways.
---Back to my Podhood. We picked up some under the bed Castle themed boxes at Ikea and they gloriously fit the plastic boxes that we had previously getten there to try to corral the girls' toys. (Plastic boxes hadn't worked because they would just pile up on each other and make it even harder to find things. Now they fit into the under bed boxes and the girls' room is tidier than it has ever been.
There are "container" for: 1. Legos 2. Little People and related 3. Blocks and Chanukah toys 4. Wooden figures and toys 5. Purses 6. Small balls, all under the bed. There are two collapsible units (also from Ikea) that the stuffed toys are in, another for dirty clothes, a bin in the closet for dress up accessories, a trunk for playdresses, another closet bin for hats. A basket for toys with batteries. The closets are tidy as I've pulled out all the shorts and sundresses (although I won't pack them away just yet: today was a gloriously warm day) and cleared the closets.
Thing 1 has walked in the last two days after school and been overjoyed (I'm hoping to train her to help with the upkeep).
Also, I washed the sheets and changed the linens today, washed 4 loads of laundry (as well as the three yesterday) because I'm catching up on sorting through the hand-me-downs we shipped from the States as well as the ones we had here (it was time to open up the boxes labelled 5-7 and then pack away everything 7 and up). Then I made wraps and beans with rice for dinner, after joining Yelli at an English speakers' play group when the girls got back from school and letting them get their ya-yas out on th playground (and meeting some nice women with children). Then I baked an angel food cake.
I can see a real difference in the house now, I've even cleared our cornfield out and reduced the unhoused objects to a small part of the upstirs galley. When I run around each morning, it takes incrementally less time to return to base (which has been getting better for weeks) and I am going deeper and deeper into the never tidy before zone. Is this what it's like when one accepts one's destiny as a stay at home mom?