Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Get Help!

With your housekeeping, of course. 

I just read yet another post from a young mom overwhelmed by parenting and housekeeping and her job. For some reason it made me remember the time a few months ago that my ex husband remarked to me, offhandedly, musingly, that his current wife "kept a cleaner house" than I ever did. The wife without a career.* The wife with one kid, a daytime nanny AND a nighttime nanny. I might have snorted out loud. 

But he's right. Our house was an absolute mess about 60% of the time, and the other 40% it only qualified as clean if you didn't look too closely. I stressed about it all the time. Probably every day. I took paid days off of work to clean it, but the work was never done. I knew it bothered him and that pissed me off too, adding to my stress. He helped a little, rinsing his dishes before putting them in the sink, transferring the occasional load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, taking out the trash. But the burden and responsibility was mine alone and we both knew it. Besides, when he "helped" he always needed recognition and praise afterwards and if I had time for that I could have just rinsed those dishes myself for the love of God.

I thought about hiring someone to help. More like fantasized, really, because we struggled with money and it seemed like such a wasteful luxury. Like I would have failed at wifehood if I resorted to that. Recently I was interviewed for a "Women in Leadership Award" and the last question the committee asked me was, "What personal advice do you have for young women today?" My immediate answer was, "Hire someone to help you clean your house."  I did not get that award, but I wholeheartedly stand by my answer.

I see young mothers struggling today, despite the fact that guys are playing much bigger roles in both child rearing and housekeeping than ever before, but we haven't come so far yet that the ultimate burden and responsibility aren't still ours. The young woman in the post link above doesn't even mention a significant other, so inside help might not even be an option for her. 

It would be useless to just tell her not to stress over the mess, because I know from personal experience how impossible it is not to. I struggled in particular with mopping the floors; I would always leave it for last, be too tired to do it, and it would just get worse. I had nightmares about one of my toddlers eating moldy (anything) she found under the table. Since I kept having kids across 14 years, it feels like I always had a toddler. 

So for what it's worth, since it's not realistic to just advise young mothers to just let the house go, my advice is to get housekeeping help. Find the money to pay for it. Tell yourself it's not a luxury, it's a necessity, and mean it. Once a week, once a month, once a quarter- anything can make a difference. If I could go back and do things differently this is one of the few things I'd change. Seriously. 


*I'm told she does work a several days a month in my ex's law firm along with our 27 year old daughter and his law partner's niece manning the phones and files. I'm not being snarky, just annoyed that he has no recognition of how less tasked and how more well-resourced the new, improved Mrs. Barkhurst is, but that's another narcicistic story. 

No comments:

Post a Comment