As I was doing the housework…

You know the 5-second rule?  The one about how food is still okay if you retrieve it from the floor if 5-seconds hasn’t elapsed?

I have a different kind of 5-second rule.  I better catch whatever I’ve dropped 5 seconds before it reaches the floor.  Or at least it seems that way sometimes.  But not today.   My kitchen floor is so clean you could eat off of it, although the table is much more comfortable — with plates and utensils, of course.

As I was scrubbing the floor today, fighting the temptation to stop halfway because it was hot and tiring work, I smiled thinking how some might think my current life out of the corporate workplace is a bit like a page out of The Stepford Wives.   Let me assure you that I have no super cool sexy 60’s pantsuits, nor am I obsessive about all things homemaker.

Yet, keeping a really clean house was something that I was never able to do when I was working full-time and raising my child.   I often worked from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed with the ever-present blackberry on the night stand.   Homework and after school activities and sports and cooking dinner and all sorts of other things fit in between when the alarm sounded and lights out.  I was lucky if I found time to use a damp mop on the floor before the tile’s light beige color developed a brown-shoe patina.

I don’t expend  much energy thinking about the “culture wars” between career women and stay-at-home moms.   I’ve been both.   Working, for many years, was not a choice for me.  What was a choice was my decision not to complain about options that I didn’t have.  I worked with some women who complained that they “had” to work, but would have rather been home.   Yet, had they made different choices, they likely could have lived on one salary as I did at that time.  But, it would have come at a cost, a different style of living.  Who am I to make that choice for anybody else?  Had they decided to stay home, I would have respected that choice as much as I did their choice to work.

I overheard someone say to a new mom recently:  I don’t know how you’re going to do it when you go back to work.  It will be so hard.

I seethed inwardly but kept my opinion to myself.   The woman probably had the best intentions, but the tone of the conversation implied that it was unfortunate that the new mom had to work.  What I should have said was It is hard to stay home too.

Raising kids is difficult.  Entrusting them to a caregiver for a large portion of the day is difficult as well.  Staying home knowing that you’ll enter the workforce in the future is hard.   Entering the workforce after not working is hard.  It’s all hard.

My advice to that new mom?  Be kind to yourself.  Do what’s best for your family. Be comfortable with your decision. And hire a housekeeper.   A clean house is nice, but you won’t have much time to do it and it isn’t why you’re staying at home.  Use all those 5-seconds catching your children’s smiles.

This post is my contribution to today’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge:  From Mundane to Meaningful.   Find links to what others have written in the comments here.

18 responses to “As I was doing the housework…

  1. An excellent post! As one who hates housework with a passion, it takes a lot of motivation. But it is worth it to have a clean house!

  2. Your housework got better after children…did I catch that correctly?
    I’d bow down to you but I may inhale a dust bunny.

  3. You’re so right! As a single mom I’m in the “wish I didn’t have to work” but you’re right, the best thing for my family is to do what is right for them and be proud of what I accomplish on any given day at home or work! I recently downsized my job to be more present for my kids and hopefully go to school so when they get older I can jump back in at the same or higher place than where I left off. Thanks for this post!

  4. That’s some pretty sound advice you have here for working and at home mom’s. The best advice that you quoted here was be “kind to your self”. very good

  5. I admit it, I hate housework! Welldone at being able to keep my attention until the end.

  6. Great post, Anne! I worked much of my life, but I’m thrilled that all of my grandkids have stay-at-home moms. Love your entry. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the advice — and I think it’s great! I am totally comfortable with our plans for the new little one, which will involve some child care and lots of flexible schedules in both our parts and working from home. I think I’m lucky in that my husband will be very involved, we both have flexible jobs, and I am not in the least interested in giving up my job (which is not really an option anyway). The one thing I may change is adding a housekeeper, as you suggest. We are horrible at cleaning right now, and it’s surely only going to get worse 🙂

    • The best new baby gift I got was my then-boss sending her housekeeper over to my house the week after my son was born. She did this because we were spending all of our time down at NICU, BUT it would be great in any circumstance. If someone asks you if they can do anything for you during those first few weeks, have them come over and do the laundry! Amazing how those little teeny clothes can make up so many loads!

  8. Very well said and honest view. It’d be a much better world if we all respected other people’s choices.

  9. Excellent use of the challenge! This is an extremely enjoyable read! (Coming from someone who has worn a broad spectrum of working mother hats!) – you are absolutely right – it’s all hard.