I Think It’s Important To Have a Clean House — And That Doesn’t Make Me a Bad Woman
By Yasmine Abbasakoor
Photo © rawpixel/123RF
Oct 30, 2018
Recently, a stay-at-home mom became an internet hero for proclaiming she was a stay-at-home mom and not a stay-at-home housekeeper. The main thrust of the post was that a partner shouldn’t demand a house be clean when they get home from work, because kid care is her main priority.
Sure, sure, sure, sure, sure. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. Of course — reading something like this, it's easy to get on board with the message.
However, this rant, which I’ve heard before, is missing a layer. She acknowledged that house cleaning is a big job that requires the whole family and still managed to disparage the work. Yes, most of us detest cleaning and yes it is an endless treadmill, but why is it never raised up or admired? Cooking a beautiful meal for your family fills people with pride, and I’m arguing that maintaining a beautifully organized home should, too. And I know it isn't easy, because I'm not a naturally tidy person. Which is why I'm so appreciative of a clean home and the pursuit of it.
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Cleaning has to be done and the work, like most work, comes with rewards. There is no better feeling than a tidy house, fresh sheets and light switches free from forensic evidence of dinner. And what do you know when you walk into someone else’s clean home? You know they care. A neat house says: we’re organized, we’ve got it together — and most importantly, we’re OK.
This is why your parents are so happy when your abode is adorbs. They feel pure relief knowing they can worry about you a little less.
Even though the benefits are so plentiful, we continue to diminish the work of house cleaning. I believe that’s because it’s traditionally been perceived as a female job.
"Show your children what that work looks like and why it’s important."
Teachers, nurses and caregivers are chronically underpaid. These jobs, like cleaning, are conventionally considered the work of women and are so often automatically undervalued. I’m guilty of this kind of wrong thinking all the time! I’m ashamed to tell people I spent my afternoon mopping, but somehow mowing feels more worthy.
I want to change this negative attitude toward daily jobs that can sometimes feel despicable. Despite what Instagram tells you, most of your minutes are spent on the mundane. A problem at school is discussed while you dust off the picture frames, and arguments are resolved while you try to figure out the best way to sweep rice off the floor (hint: wait till the next day when it’s dry).
I hear you puking. I know my sentimental drivel only gets us so far, which is why there’s scientific advice to support the work we do around the house. There are hundreds of studies on this topic. You’ve probably read some. Kids who help their parents with chores are happier kids and kids who make their beds are more successful adults — and the results continue accordingly.
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But kids won’t pick up these jobs if their parents aren’t right there alongside them doing their own share.
For all parents, stay-at-home or otherwise, let’s stop proclaiming “I’m NOT a housekeeper” and start appreciating the work that goes into the families we love and run. Show your children what that work looks like and why it’s important. Part of caring for our families is keeping the space we share beautiful. Respect yourself when you do that work and respect those who do it for you. And maybe your house will magically tidy itself.
It won’t. Respect ain’t a Roomba, but we can dream.
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