Do you smell that? Maybe I should light some candles real quick. Air freshener would be too obvious. Sorry if I sound a little flustered, but I’ve got like maybe fifteen minutes to clean the house before the cleaners get here.

I thought I’d have enough time, but now that I’m taking stock of the current condition of our home, there are at least two meals worth of dishes in the sink, crumbs all over the dining room floor, and dust on every neglected surface where I rub my finger. I was planning on getting it all under control before school drop-off this morning, but then my youngest started throwing a fit that their favorite shirt was still in the dryer, and it reminded me there was laundry to fold.

Now I’m worried that if I don’t vacuum up all the dog hair lining the hallway baseboards or mop up the traces of mud left behind from the shoes my children refuse to take off after playing in the yard, the cleaners are going to have some great anecdotes about how disgusting our house is. I really don’t want to be the villain in a horror story they share with friends and family.

I can see it now: pictures of my living room on some sort of “wall of shame.” Pillows not neatly organized on the couch by size and color. Throw blankets suboptimally hanging off the living room chairs with no intention. A coffee table without a single square inch of open surface. Everywhere you look there’s evidence of how incapable I am of running a tight ship. Heaven forbid they see the toilet in the kids’ bathroom before I get a chance to bleach it down real fast. How embarrassing would that be? They’ll probably even tell everyone they know about the client who doesn’t have the slightest clue how to degrease the surface of a stove. But I do know how to degrease a stove; I just didn’t have time today…

You think they’ll look in my closet? I’ll try to shove the boxes by the front door that I’ve totally been meaning to take to Goodwill the last three weeks in there. They should fit nicely next to the other boxes I hid last month. That reminds me: I need to wipe down the bathroom mirror again. It’s not as if I haven’t tried to coach my children how to spit the toothpaste out of their mouths more accurately into the sink, but their Jackson Pollock-like approach has proven tough to correct, and I’d hate for anyone else to feel responsible for such a disgusting mess.

Next month, I’ll make sure I give myself enough time to take care of this way ahead of their arrival. I’ll put out some fresh flowers and bake some banana bread to really prove the house is spotless before they clean it.