Weekend Journal

On Friday morning at 8:30, the second kid waited his turn on line to enter the school bus. At this point, he always gets a kiss and some parting words, "listen to the teacher, be nice to the other kids, and have fun." Slug anyone who messes with you. Do well on the test or you’ll never go to college. Don’t get VD. Then I headed for home for the other ritual that awaited me.

Every other Friday, a cleaning woman vacuums up the big chunks on the floor for two hours.

I’ve been very ambivilant about the growing reliance of middle class
families on cleaning ladies. I believe that people shouldn’t make such
a big mess that they can’t clean it up on their own. While I don’t make
a big mess, the others in this house do. And then it was just
physically impossible to clean the house after putting in 80 hour weeks
last semester.

In an ideal world, all members of the family would split their time
equally amongst various household chores being careful to juggle
duties, so no particular patterns of gender-based roles formed.But in this far from ideal family, we’ve had to make certain adjustments. 

The adjustment is that cleaning only happens twice a month at this
house. Sure, we put the dirty clothes in the hamper and the dishes in
the dishwasher on a daily basis. But everything else happens on every
other Friday.

Before the cleaning lady comes, I have to put away all the clutter from
the kitchen and common areas. The papers get recycled. The crap on the
dining table is put away. The kids’ school papers are tidied.  The
loose change and scraps of paper on the kitchen counter are sorted.
Cleats and shin guards in the basement. That takes about two hours.
While the cleaning lady is cleaning the downstairs, I’m upstairs
cleaning the bedrooms and office. The beds are stripped and remade, the
floors are vacuumed, books are shelved, clothing is put away, trains
are tucked into the correct bins. That takes another two hours.

I hate being that anal, but it has certain advantages. I know that it
takes six hours to clean my house (4 by me, 2 by the cleaning lady). I
clean along side of the cleaning lady, which makes me feel better about
having a servant. Another advantage is that the house is really clean
for one day, as opposed to never.

I have a pile of work to do tonight. I’m looking at another night of
working past midnight. I probably should have planned my lectures that
Friday instead of sorting newspapers.

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10 thoughts on “Weekend Journal

  1. I’m kind of ok living in squalor, but we pretty much never have a clean house. It ranges from filthy to passable. I think about getting someone to clean, but the amount of effort it would take to get ready for a cleaner stresses me.
    We have had someone mowing our lawn, but mainly because I have no interest in doing it, and my husband has bad allergies to grass. Btw, I saw this the other day and totally related to the people of Newton. Every Tuesday morning at around 9, the people in the house back of us have some sort of landscaper come, and I’m guessing that sound that makes me batshit crazy is the gas leaf blower.

  2. I can’t remember too many citations right now, but I’ve always been amused by English early 20th century novels in which heroes living in dreadful poverty have charladies. Then there’s Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. The refined heroine Fanny Price goes home to her impoverished family: dad, mom, and oodles of younger sisters and brothers. This family, which lives on dad’s Naval disability check in terrible squalor, has a cook and a maid. Of course, housework used to be much more of an ordeal.

  3. OT, but 11D commenters get results:
    “(On some other possibilities, I do not believe that God will be so good to Democrats as to give us a Newt Gingrich or Fred Thompson to campaign against. Alas.)
    Posted by: Doug | June 20, 2007 at 06:44 AM ”
    ” Gingrich says no to White House bid
    By LIBBY QUAID, Associated Press Writer Sat Sep 29, 1:47 PM ET
    WASHINGTON – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president in 2008 after determining he could not legally explore a bid and remain as head of his tax-exempt political organization, a spokesman said Saturday.”

  4. 1 for 2, Doug. And a smooch for the compliment in the Dangerous Women post.
    BTW, Megan McArdle linked to this post last night and there’s another rowdy comment section discussing the morality of cleaning ladies.

  5. We have a cleaning lady, and I, too, have some guilt about it. But our house is very, very cluttered. It’s like one step forward, two steps back for us. I’ve actually started making the kids tackle their own clutter, but honestly, they’re not that good at it. I end up cleaning up behind them. Though I’d love to have a cleaner house, I’d rather spend my time doing something else.

  6. My wife and I both work 50 hour weeks minimum so we got a maid/cook who comes five days a week for three hours a day…
    It’s heaven… a hot meal every night, a clean house, and when my wife and I do get home from work we can focus on the kids and not on cooking and cleaning!

  7. Surely it is a win-win. You get more time to do what you want to do at a price you can obviously afford… and she gets a paying job that she is willing to do and so it better off than if you did not offer her that opportunity.

  8. I’m mostly at home these days, so no $ for a cleaning lady. Our house is much neater and cleaner than when I worked full time, BUT…with the cleaning lady we used to have, things were very clean at the same time after she left. I really liked that. Now I’m more likely to clean in stages and it’s never super clean all at once. I could probably make it happen, but I’m not that dedicated.

  9. Why do you believe that your family should be able to provide all its own cleaning?
    Do you believe your family should be able to grow all its own food? Manufacture all its own medicine? Weave all its own clothing?
    I’ve never understood what is special about cleaning.
    I assume when you say that all family members should split their time evenly amongst chores, you mean all family members over a certain age. But this did give me a delightful image of a small baby crawling downstairs taking the rubbish bag to the bin. Thanks 🙂

  10. Amy P.: A similar (non-English) example is in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is out of money and repeatedly behind in his rent, yet it’s taken for granted that as long as he lives in that apartment, the maid/cook will prepare all his food for him.

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