Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Needs Vs Wants- Cleaning Help

A few years back, I was speaking to a professional counselor and asked whether he thought I was unready for marriage because I was messy and had a hard time maintaining order in my home. My roommate and I had had a recurring spat about my readiness for marriage (or lack thereof), specifically because I was living in a pig sty, so I asked this professional to settle our dispute once and for all.
His answer? "You're perfectly ready for marriage. You just need to marry a man with enough money so you can hire a cleaning lady."
Well, as luck would have it, I ended up with my husband. While he is many amazing things, an earner of six figures he is not. Hiring a cleaning lady is truly out of our budget, so although I have a hard time keeping up with housework, I have not ever hired cleaning help. Not only that, I even work for others as their cleaning lady.
And yet, I know people that are up to their neck and drowning in debts, not sure how to pay for their basics, and they still are shelling on money, week after week, on cleaning help. Cutting out this expense is unfathomable to them though; they'd sooner starve than clean on their own.

Although I am not a neat person by nature, I am proof in the pudding that no, you don't die (or come anywhere near there) by having the sole responsibility of cleaning be upon you. So no, cleaning help is not a need; it is a want, a luxury.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not going to say that one should never have cleaning help. There definitely are circumstances in which I truly understand why people have cleaning help. But I do think that people play that "Oh, I'd never manage without cleaning help" card all too often.

What about my house? Is my home a bio-hazard zone, seeing as, by nature, I am a pretty messy person?
To be honest, my place is not as clean as a museum. Or anywhere near that. Dishes can be left in the sink up to a few days at a time sometimes, and I often have a few loads of dirty wash waiting to be cleaned, and an equal amount of laundered clothes waiting to be sorted and put away.
However, while my home is not in a constant state of cleanliness and tidiness, it isn't either a constant wreck. Once a day, I strive to make my house a little neater before my husband comes home. I usually manage to make the main living area tidy, so that at least he isn't bombarded by mess the second he opens the front door. Once a week, my house truly gets clean. Or at least, the visible areas do. (Just don’t look in the closets or under the beds.)
No, my home is not perfect, and I still have light years to go before I become as clean as my mother- in-law, but hopefully my kids will remember that the house wasn't permitted to become insanely dirty, that it was always truly clean once a week. They'll have the knowledge of what a clean home can do for one's emotions, and maybe, just maybe, they will pick up my husband's aptitude for tidiness.
In our current situation, my husband does need to pitch in and help clean if he wants to house to reach his standard of cleanliness. When he does not have the time, the house might just be messier than he would prefer, but that won't kill us. I also have to expend a bit more energy doing things that I do not care for, but it is manageable, with a bit of effort to maintain a relatively tidy house, even without a cleaning lady. (I plan on giving some tips on how to manage this, hopefully some time later this week or next.)

When someone is on bed rest, or otherwise physically incapacitated, it would certainly be understandable to hire cleaning help. Likewise, if a person is working many hours outside of the house and has precious little time at home, it is perfectly reasonable to want to spend that minimal time with spouse and kids building memories as opposed to spending what little time they have focused on cleaning instead of being there with family.

When a perfectly healthy, capable stay at home mom, with no extraneous circumstances opts to hire cleaning help, that is a luxury.

Must life be devoid of all luxuries? Should no stay at home moms hire cleaning help?
No, to both of those questions.

However, when something needs to be cut out, remember that cleaning help is a luxury, not a need, and it usually is physically possible to manage without this type of help. Deciding to keep this luxury is obviously your decision, but just try to remember that it is a luxury, and remember to count your blessings.

Do you have cleaning help? Luxury or need? You tell me.

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