Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Housecleaning and Guilt

I found myself agreeing with this fmh (and NY Times article) about moms, cleaning and guilt.  In case you're not up for clicking on the links, a majority of moms (both those who work outside and those who work full time in the home) feel guilt about how clean their homes are. 

It's a little shocking to me, considering the century.  Didn't we fight a feminist revolution to free women from the chains of the vacuum cleaner?

I was trying to understand the statistics.  I've mentioned it before, but cleaning is a source of stress for me.  I'm simply not talented in organizing, sorting and cleaning.  Some people are (they must be) - something must explain the 45% of moms who don't feel guilty about the state of their homes. Either they refuse to feel guilty (possible) or they're great at cleaning and multi-tasking.  It makes sense - everyone has different abilities.

With that said, the standard of cleanliness  is very different depending on the person.  What one person considers passable, neat and tidy - another considers cluttered.  In the comments to the feminist mormon housewives thread, someone mentioned underwear in the front room as a standard for cleanliness.  I would assume it would come as no surprise to anyone who knows my family that sometimes we have underwear in the front room.  I can explain the reasons why (which involve people cooperating in getting dressed in the morning watching television).  But it's what works for us.

For the record, this is a good time to mention - please do not drop by my home without calling or texting first.  This is pretty much the reason (among others).  It makes me uncomfortable depending on the state of the home (and whether or not there are clothes in the front room).  So please, call first.

There is still a lot of judgment from women, men, older generations about standards of cleanliness.  If you lift the stove cover, is it clean?  (hint, not in my house at the moment).  Now, I support bug free and food decay free.  But others believe in clean walls, dusted bookshelves, organized piles of books (ha!), floors one can eat off of - that's just not my home.

So I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in this source of stress.  I suspect parents and couples often disagree about how clean is clean, how to clean and the most stress - who is responsible for what. 

Here are my theories why:
1- Time - for me, time is the biggest factor.  Cleaning and sorting takes time.  Time that I do not have.  It's true - I have but other things as a higher priority.  Working out, hiking with my kids, visiting friends, volunteering.  I refuse to spend ALL my free time cleaning. 

2 - Money - So I could pay someone to clean my house, but that doesn't seem completely right either.  Eventually we will probably pay someone to clean - but for the moment, funding is an issue. And the idea of a group of people who clean as a's problematic unless they are given fair wages (what would those be anyway)??

Another money consideration is organizational help (baskets, shelves, buckets, etc.)  There are many options out there - they just cost money.

3 - Environmental considerations - I could rent a dumpster and simply start throwing things into it.  The truth is, a family of four accumulates a lot.  So we struggle with sorting and disposing of - there's always a "will I use this in the next year?"  And then, it never fails that after something is recycled or sold - I need it and need to buy new (or used). 

And there are things (like batteries) that shouldn't be thrown away but recycled.  Not to mention the pc in the basement that needs to be wiped clear of data.

4 - Strategy - I need to determine what I want to save.  From this post, it's something I realized I can actually do in the near future.  I have history notes from college - a ton of cassette I need to save those? Am I saving my history notes because my sixth grade history teacher said he used his notes for his lesson plans (hint- the answer is yes)...

Do I need to save those? Can I let them go? What do I want to remember, and what others to remember about me?

I don't mean to complain about cleaning - it's fortunate we have so much stuff to organize.  It's simply a constant battle - and one I'd rather shove under the rug than address on any given day.  I do find it reassuring that I'm not the only one who struggles with it.


Freckle Face Girl said...

I am right there with you on the not perfect house and feeling a little guilty about it. I hate when people just drop by. I have at different times in my life been better about it, but I think that makes me slightly obsessed, which is not really in my nature. I guess for now, I am accepting the untidiness as part of a whole difficult phase.

Aerin said...

That's right where I'm at as well, as the kids get older, it becomes easier to keep things tidy. I was simply re-assured that other moms agreed with me!