Monday, October 1, 2007

Cleaning House

Lots of interesting posts about house cleaners out there today.

A. loves her newly found cleaners.

Laura at 11D
feels guilty.

Raising WEG lists a bunch of good political/social reasons why she won't hire a cleaner.

If D. and I both worked full time, we would have a cleaner. Hands-down, I would get over all of my reasons why I don't. Life is too short to spend your entire weekend cleaning. I'd hire a cleaner. Immediately.

But one of the big reasons why I'm *not* working full time is so we *don't* have to outsource big portions of our family life to other people.

I think we are one of 3 families in my entire neighborhood who clean their own houses. I'm not kidding. We are definitely considered odd.

We tried it. We had cleaners for about 5 months after son D. was born. It was nice. But it wasn't for us.

First, really what it was - truly - was a way for me to avoid expressing dissatisfaction that I was doing most of the cleaning at the time. But you know what happened after the cleaning ladies came? My kids ONLY saw females cleaning. In their minds, men didn't clean. At all. So we lost the ladies, and managed to work on an equitable division of labor in the house. Now, the children see that men clean too. Men clean lots.

Second, the chemicals. I clean with non-toxic stuff bought at the local Co-op. I don't use the chemical-laden stuff. The cleaning ladies used chemicals and more chemicals. I don't want that toxic stuff in my home.

Third, one of our big philosophies in life is that "life is messy" and "you mess it up - you clean it up." A home that is perfectly clean 100% of the time is beyond our ability. But...we all clean up what we mess up.

Fourth, we all work together to clean. My kids scrub toilets. They mop floors. They vacuum. They dust. Not well - don't get me wrong. But we do it together. They think it is a blast. While other kids are growing up with a vision of cleaning as this horrible chore to avoid at all costs, our kids actually think it is fun.

Fifth, the cost. It just seems silly to pay that much for cleaning - when it is so easy to do yourself. (IF you have time.)

And finally, human beings need physical movement. I'm not going to say that cleaning your house is an enjoyable way to get fit. It's not. But it is manual labor. For me, it is good. I like being active and doing things. I was with a group of mothers at the park. They spent the first part of their conversation comparing/complaining about cleaning ladies. The second part of their conversation was "Oh, if I could only lose 5 or 10 pounds." I held my tongue. (us non-overweight marathon runners are not allowed to comment on anyone's weight. ever.) But in my head, all I could think was "hey - maybe if you did your own scrubbing, you'd tone those arms a bit..." I didn't say it. But I thought it.

The one thing I hear over and over again is how hiring a cleaning lady gives people time to "do something else that matters/is more enjoyable."

I get that. But to me, working together to make our home a clean place - as a family - is a really great way to spend our time. Letting a stranger do that intimate job just felt really odd to me.

But, in full disclosure, this is one of my favorite books.

And I couldn't do anything without the robots. Life without Roomba and Scooba...oh, I can't even imagine.


Diva Mom Vicki said...

One of my 'currencies' (as Dr. Phil calls them) for getting Bittyman to behave is to promise he can wet Swiffer the floor if he's good. Seriously. I've managed to convince the kid that cleaning is some sort of reward!

But oh you bet your Roomba I'll hire a maid service if I go back to work full-time. Even Bittyman hates scrubbing toilets.

Jody said...

If I were working full-time, I would hire a (documented) house cleaner and pay good money not to spend my evenings and weekends scrubbing toilets. Absolutely, life's too short.

But I think it's better for us to do as much of our cleaning as possible, for the reasons you describe.

Elizabeth said...

Do you use the Scooba on hardwoord? I can't justify getting one just for our kitchen, but if it would clean the hardwood too, I'd be tempted.

K said...

I don't use the Scooba on hardwoods - It says you can, and if our floors had recently been refinished, I would probably do a water/vinegar mix on the hardwoods. But alas, our hardwoods were finished long, long ago and I'm too nervous to use it. I did it once, but it used a bit more water than I like to use.

We use it on the kitchen and our 2 bathrooms weekly. It is amazing and picks up a lot more dirt that I do. The best part is that it will clean while you are gone. You push the button, head to the park, and come home in 45 minutes to clean floors.

LisaS said...

I love the idea that the kids now see that males clean ... not that it would happen in my house, but the principle of the thing. Men cook in my house, but they don't clean.

But right now, we don't have a regular cleaning person, either. Or at least, not a paid one. It's all me. It's

and yeah, the Roombas (we have 2) are definitely the way to vacuum, except that they like some of the chairs in our living room a little too much ... like Chihuahuas like legs. We don't have a Scooba (yet) but my MIL loves hers ...

Rebecca said...

I had a cleaner when we lived in a "big" house in the US, but here in the UK I'm hard pressed to justify outsourcing the small amount of work involved in cleaning our little flat. I have to say, I don't hate doing the work nearly as much as I thought I would. I've been jonesing for a Roomba since the day we arrived here, though. Carpet underneath the dining table, though an unavoidable downside of renting around here, is a BAD scenario when you've got young kids!

dawn224 said...

my husband is a better cleaner than I am...