When I think back to the house I grew up in, I remember everything being really, really clean and in order. In fact, my mother kept our home so clean that it was nicknamed “the museum.” We didn’t have a lot, but everything was given the same care as if we lived in luxury.
My room, however, was an entirely different story. There were clothes and stuffed animals everywhere. My walls were covered with posters, stickers, and pictures. (I mean, New Kids on the Block posters were a must-have on every girl’s wall.) I was young and without a care in the world, so it was to be expected that I wasn’t too concerned with keeping a clean room … except that I never actually outgrew this phase.
I’m now the mom of a teenager and four cats, work really long hours from home, and struggle with keeping a clean home.
I’m also part of the PTA and am engaged in other activities, and I’ve found that there simply are not enough hours in the day to do all the things I both love to do and have to do. Housework always turns into, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” But then tomorrow comes, and I need to run out of the house to go to a meeting, pick up my son, or attend a work event. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I pretty much leave a trail of debris everywhere I go.
Admittedly, I’m the only one (as far as I know) in my family who just never put an emphasis on having the perfect home. In some ways it’s liberating, but in other ways it’s quite problematic. I’m a creative who needs to have everything around me organized in order to paint, write, photo edit, and do other work projects. However, I don’t have the knack for actually making everything be the way it needs to be! Clutter disrupts my ability to focus on the things I need to do, yet the sight of it chokes me enough to feel immobile to do anything about it. It’s quite the internal war.
Believe me, I’ve tried in earnest to keep my home with the same attention to detail (or even close) that my mother and aunts had done so naturally. It just never happened.
After many years of trying to perfect the ins and outs of domestic life, I decided to accept that I’d rather be doing other things; I would much rather be hanging out with my family or working on a new project than vacuuming.
As a Latina, it was hard to admit that. A huge part of the culture includes having a well-organized home ready for guests that may or may not stop by for a meal or cafecito. The homes are the center of family and social gatherings. Growing up, the women had their dinner menus planned out daily, there was always a fresh pot of coffee on the stove, beds were always made, and the kitchen counters always looked like no one used them.
Now as an adult, I always felt a pressure to keep a spotless home and serve up an amazing dish for dinner every night. After all, my mom was able to work, go to school, raise me, and keep our home sparkling clean. The bar was set way high.
How did she do it? I can only assume she didn’t sleep much.
Unlike my mom, I need my sleep. But I also need my house clean, in order for my son and I to concentrate on our work and studies.
So what’s a mom to do?
It just so happened that the woman who used to babysit my son is actually a housekeeper too, which meant I didn’t have to go through the whole process of finding someone. She now comes every Monday morning to help me get the week started. It frees up time for me to do what I want to do, and it clears my mind so that I’m able to sit in my home office and focus. Sure, it’s an additional cost every week, but the clarity and peace it gives me is worth every cent.
My mom admits that she tried to do way too much and that she should’ve taken help when she was younger. We can’t do it all nor should we be expected to. If you’re having a tough time deciding whether or not you need a housekeeper, cut yourself some slack. Quiet down those excuses in your mind, and objectively look at the pros and cons. Create a budget for it … and try it out. You can always re-prioritize and change your mind later.