Next time you bleach the tea stains off the kitchen sink, descale the kettle, mop the floor or wipe babyfood off the high chair, take a moment to look at the result. Think of what it looked like moments before. Appreciate that you did this. You made this difference. It is unspectacular but tangible, an improvement and it is all down to you.
To get a cleaning lady or not? How many of us have asked ourselves this question. Well I’ve decided against it and I’ll tell you why. It has nothing to do with having a stranger in the house or having to clean before she comes and it is irrelevant that with the mess the children make it just isn’t worth it. My not hiring a cleaner is my way of staying sane.
My mother once said that people underestimate the mental health benefits of doing your own housework. At the time I wasn’t sure what she meant, but over the years, as I’ve had my own children, bought a house and continue to work in a challenging job, I can see what she means.
In the world we live in nowadays you can buy everything you need – a childminder, a cleaner, get your car valeted, order meals in or eat out, bring your clothes to the cleaners and have your shirts ironed by a professional.
This leaves us with time. But time does not equal happiness or satisfaction nor does it leave us mentally balanced. Working at a desk job, as so many of us do, we have nothing tangible to show for what we have spent the day doing. Our project may have made progress, our profit may have increased, but we can’t see that or hold it in our hands. Without manual tasks we lack the satisfaction of physically seeing a job well done. A carpenter sees the bench he has crafted and can sit on it. A builder can walk into the house he has built. But a data entry officer, a project manager, an employee in HR, a bus driver or a waitress doesn’t have that at the end of the day.
But with cleaning, you can see immediate results. You do something and straight away you have enhanced the situation. You have created something that wasn’t there earlier that day – a clean bathroom, a hoovered carpet, a washed window, a sparkling mirror.