It’s been seven hours since I last spoke. There’s no one in the house to talk to. My husband is still at work and my kids are having a sleepover at Grandma’s. It’s also the Friday before a long weekend, so most of my friends have left for the cottage, which means my phone hasn’t dinged in a while.
So, I did what most mothers do when they have the house to themselves for a few hours. I cleaned.
I washed the dishes. I wiped the toothpaste off the bathroom mirror in my kids’ bathroom. I picked up the wood chips from the playground that were scattered all over my house.
I stripped the sheets from all the beds because I don’t remember the last time I changed them, and I’m pretty sure they’re due to be changed. I scrubbed the toilets and sinks so they sparkled like they do in a Mr. Clean commercial.
I did five loads of laundry. I brushed the cat’s hair, and then I vacuumed and mopped the entire house. (Thank goodness I have a small house.)
I did all this because I didn’t feel compelled to ask anyone to pitch in and help me out (because no one was around to ask anyway). I did all this because I knew I wouldn’t be needed by anyone. No “Mama” or “Babe” calls. I did it because it needed to be done—perhaps not all at once, but I’d rather get as much as I can done.
I did it because if I didn’t, things would pile up. And then it’d weigh on me . . . until I dealt with it.
Have you ever noticed how it’s these not-so-pressing, but never-ending household tasks that suck up your time and zap your energy the most? Dishes, laundry, bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, mopping. I groan just thinking about what needs to be done on a weekly basis when you have a house with kids.
But to me, these things are also a “necessary evil” if you want to call it such. Having a clean, orderly house helps me maintain a clear mind and keeps me balanced. It’s not just for aesthetics—although I do enjoy the aftermath of a tidied house—there is a mental health benefit too.
And in a society that often posits that the dishes can wait or the laundry can wait—to each their own, but no thank you—I’d prefer to get those dishes and laundry done now.
Because it ensures that I don’t create a ripple effect with all the other chores that need to be done when I slack off on one chore. Mentally, it helps me function better as a mother and wife. It also teaches my kids (because my husband and I clean when they’re around too and have them help in age-appropriate tasks) basic skills that are needed to maintain a house. And to my husband and me, this is an important aspect of adulthood.
Although no one really likes doing these things—I personally don’t like cleaning pee and poop off a toilet seat either—sometimes in life you need to do things you don’t necessarily like. (Unless of course, you’re wealthy and can hire someone to do these things for you on a regular basis, which makes me jealous.)
But for now, I’m going to enjoy my clean and tidied house in peace and quiet. When my kids and the chaos that comes with them return from Grandma’s? They too will get to enjoy a clean house for a short while (because let’s face it, when you have kids, a clean house doesn’t last that long). They’ll also be around a mama who is much more relaxed than before. And when next week rolls around? I won’t have a massive pile of items to knock off my to-do list, just the usual manageable pile.