A Day Off

Early in motherhood I read some article reminding moms that "when you are gone, it won't matter whether you kept a clean house, but that you sat down and playing with your kids and gave them your attention". A nice sentiment and excuse not to do housework, but let's have a reality check. 

Inspired by this advice, I decided to take a break from doing the normal thing, that is picking up after all of us as we go about our business. This is usually done here and there after each activity is finished and in a couple of bigger spurts. At the end of the evening, I often like to sweep as many toys out of eyesight as possible so that I can sit and relax in the living room and pretend to live a child-free existence for 11 minutes before I fall asleep on the couch trying to read the same articles out of a months old magazine that I don't even recognize I've already read. Hey, this memory loss thing could really save me money on subscriptions!

But, I digress. For one 24 hour period, I made a conscious effort to sit down and relax or do something fun that I enjoy each time I was tempted to put things away. I wanted to know how the carefree moms live. Here is the result:

kitchen table

coffee table


Which reminds me of this hilarious stay at home mom's great answer to "what do you do all day?"

Seriously, if I even took off a second day, let alone a week, well, it just makes me realize that neat freak tendencies aside, I am only one small slip down the slippery slope away from

those people you see on daytime TV that need household clutter interventions. And I only have one kid and no pets! 

I have a hard time letting it get like this and would rather keep up with it all day so that my environment is more relaxing and enjoyable to me.  Therein lies the paradox:  take time off to relax in an environment that grows ever-unrelaxing as you relax or keep up with it to keep the environment relaxing, but never truly just sit and relax. Aaaaaaah!   

While I sat during my time off and relaxed amongst the mess, I read the August issue of Oprah magazine and found out that once again, researchers are being paid to scientifically conclude what we all already know.  The discovery this time?  That having a husband in the household adds 7 extra hours of chores a week for a woman compared to when she was unmarried, while he does an hour less per week than when he was a bachelor.  The article says the researchers didn't know WHY this is. 

Can I just respond scientifically?  


I also read recently (source unremembered) that international studies show that regardless of economic class or whether the woman stays at home or works part- or full-time, basically the woman to man housework ratio is 2:1 around the world in industrialized nations.  And the childcare ratio is far worse, childcare being defined as physically taking care of the needs of the child such as dressing, bathing, and feeding, but not counting wresting on the floor or reading bedtime stories.  

No wonder I'm tired all the time and busy all the time, even though I don't feel like I "do" anything or "get anything done" all day sometimes.  And I don't even do heavy duty cleaning or have very high standards for cleanliness.  So, it could be much worse.  

I guess we've still got a long way to go, baby!  


Casey said...

Ya know, I hate to break it to you, but your house looks pretty darn clean to me. It gets easier as they get older (the kids, not the hubs). But I remember that feeling of sitting with Rocketboy when he was a toddler, looking around at everything that needed doing and stressing out about it when I could have been enjoying myself.

I laughed when I read that study about the seven hours per week, because I would probably starve to death if I weren't married. Chris cooks nearly everything and brings me coffee in bed every morning. The extra laundry is, in my case, totally worth it.

Chelsea said...

OK, I knew when I put it out there that someone would say that to me. I know the house isn't THAT bad, but having it get like that represents my state of mind and I don't enjoy myself when I feel overwhelmed and rushed and disorganized.

The hardest part of adjusting to motherhood for me has been the utter inefficiency. I hate for too much to pile up because I realize now that what I used to get done in an hour can take a whole afternoon or longer or not ever get done at all due to attending to my child's needs and taking time to play together and my newly rewired brain that can't remember or process like it used to and my low energy due to lack of quality sleep and good exercise state.

We're certainly in different situations because I would eat better if I weren't married. When I'm alone I eat healthier because our food preferences differ.

And we're an everyone has to get up super early to make it to work family, so no one brings anyone anything in bed. I'd spill it all over the bed, anyway, so it's probably better. Then I'd just be causing myself more laundry!

Where can I sign up for the cooking and coffee service? I must have forgotten to check that box on our marriage certificate. Darn!

Casey said...

Where can I sign up for the cooking and coffee service? I must have forgotten to check that box on our marriage certificate. Darn!

It's the same box as the one where you agree to stay home with two hyper kids and a dozen pets, and be a night-owl married to a guy who likes to get up at 5 am. So it's a draw, really.

"Inefficiency" is a great way to describe the way a house runs once you add a kid or two. Little people are messy and time-consuming. Right now Hurricanehead can trash the house without trying in about an hour, but can he pick it all up in an hour? Heavens, no.

He's going through a tape phase right now. I find tape stuck to everything.

Rocketboy is getting much better about picking up after himself, after only nine years of daily training!

It gets better with time, I promise.

Chelsea said...

Oh, that box. Hate how they combine those things into one box on the form.

Nine years of daily training...huh. Sigh. Well, at least I have some experience to prepare me for that as I've done 16 years of daily training for certain behaviors with the husband.

A tape phase sounds better than a poop on the sidewalk phase. (Twice this week.) I'm looking forward to the future!