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Confession: Our house is not very clean. This might be proof of our messy house, which isn’t messy only on the busiest day of the year at my office.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not filthy or disgusting, but it’s often left in a bit of disarray. Piles of clean laundry waiting to be folded or much-loved toys not returned to their homes remain on our floors for days. However, I really don’t care. M and I get necessary cleaning done, though it’s often not on the top of our priority list.
For many reasons, I consider myself pretty lucky. Among them, M and I split household and family chores pretty evenly. It’s always been that way, and it’s generally not a point of contention.
We have some flexible guidelines that seemed to fall into place based on our preferences.
In the morning, he makes lunches while I get ready. We eat breakfast together. Then he gets dressed while I dress the boys. Our mornings are NOT always calm; they often involve tears at some point. But shared responsibilities certainly makes them far easier.
On a typical night after getting home from work, he plays with the boys while I cook dinner. I put the boys to bed while he cleans the dishes and the kitchen. The rest of the household chores are split pretty evenly depending on who is busier at work and who is feeling like doing what.
I must confess though that our cleaning chores are limited; we do only what’s absolutely necessary. We stick to the basics and keep things simple. Sometimes our house is messy because no one feels like cleaning. In the end, most daily cleaning tasks are accomplished with little complaint. I can assure you though that neither of us feels compelled to go above and beyond. We’d much rather spend our time doing other things.
I’m sure many of you have read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. In it, she asserts that equitable advancement for women in the workplace will evolve only if household chores are also distributed evenly. I couldn’t agree more. I can’t imagine dedicating adequate attention to my career if I was fully (or nearly fully) responsible for household work while M did “whatever men do when women are doing all that housework.” Not only would it impact my career, I imagine it would create some resentment.
M and I spend a lot of time at work. We also live in an apartment without much extra space. Consequently, we do our best to minimize the weight of cleaning on our free time and our modest space. Our cleanliness target is probably: 1) (almost) presentable and 2) not worthy of being condemned. Beyond that, the continuous cycle of “clean up and make messy” doesn’t inspire us to be super spic and span.
We hire a cleaning service once a month to complete the “deep cleaning” responsibilities. It’s probably the best money we spend. I’m serious! In the past, a commitment to cleaning toilets, tubs and such wreaked havoc on our weekends. If you can afford it, even if it means giving up an extra new pair of shoes or bringing lunch to work a few more days each month, it’s totally worth it! Hire someone for the hard stuff!
Sometimes, money CAN buy happiness. It certainly can buy choices. The money we spend on a monthly cleaning service buys us A LOT of happiness.
As a quick tangent, after T was born, I wanted to hire the cleaning service but M wasn’t ready yet to bite the bullet. I have a higher tolerance for messiness than he does, so I boycotted cleaning (the big stuff, not the day to day stuff) until we got a cleaning service (over two years later). He did nearly all the deep cleaning for those two years. Hahahaha.
The very first day he came home after our cleaning service visited, his jaw dropped. He loved it, and we’ve never turned back.
Since the cleaning service doesn’t stop by everyday (obviously), we still have plenty of day to day cleaning tasks to complete. Cleaning dishes, doing laundry, wiping down counters and tables, picking up toys… you know the drill.
To aid in minimizing the cleaning efforts beyond hiring someone for the deep cleaning, we also often buy smaller, more efficient and highly concentrated or multi-purpose products which take up less space in our house. We don’t have tons of extra space so every inch counts. For example, we buy a concentrated detergent for our laundry. Recently, I picked up Palmolive® Multi Surface Dish Soap from Walmart which not only kills 99.9% of bacteria (*staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica and E. coli ((157:H7)) and cleans dishes but also cleans kitchen surfaces like the counter and stove top.
Having high-quality cleaning supplies that also don’t jam my cabinets and shelves brings peace of mind. Anything that makes cleaning simpler leaves more time for family and play. I’ve also shared before about the liberating feeling of letting go of possessions. It may seem small, but even having slightly fewer products under my sink or in my linen closet creates an extra bit of calmness.
To be honest, I won’t really be using this. Instead, M will be hanging out with Mr. Palmolive® Multi Surface Dish Soap on a regular basis. In our very equitable allocation of housework and household responsibilities, M does a good majority of the dishes and the kitchen cleaning each night after dinner. I’ll be folding laundry if you need me.
How do you allocate chores in your house? Who does the cleaning? Do you have any products that help to make the process even a little bit easier?