The cost of a clean house

“Sometimes clean feels empty. A bit of clutter and dirt gladdens the heart and affirms a life in progress.”
— Terri Guillemets

By Patricia Cates

The price to have a house cleaned varies regionally in the United States. Looking into things locally I have found the professional going rate is approximately $50 for four hours per week. Mind you that is for the upkeep of an already clean home. The $50 will buy you weekly scoured showers, cleaned toilets, mopped floors, wiped-down countertops, dusted furniture and a quick run with the vacuum. Laundry and dishes are negotiable. The problem I run into is that I don’t have an extra $200.
What I do have are a husband, five teenagers, three cats, two dogs and a tank of fish. So together we all clean the house. Well … sort of.
Some might argue that it is better to just hire someone to come in and do the cleaning. People say, “It is so worth it.” They tell me, “I love not having to worry about chores on the weekend!” They would rather enjoy family outings on a Saturday instead, or travel for sporting events. These also happen to be people who have incomes where they can afford to actually have someone come in and clean. We simply can’t. We can barely afford to do go the Reel Theater as a family, which by the way, we love.
Aside from not being able to afford a maid, I happen to believe that the people who live here could easily do the cleaning. I mean why not? There is absolutely nothing physically wrong with any of us. So what’s the problem?
I have tried every reward and punishment method imaginable and still can’t seem to get teenagers enthused about doing chores. Could it possibly be that we have found ourselves living in a society where our youth might be lacking a work ethic? Now, don’t get me wrong. I have good kids. Heck, I have great kids! The problem I seem to be facing is instilling in my children the mindset of pride in one’s home, and pride in one’s work. We could take it a step further and call it pride in one’s self. Whatever it may be, it seems to be scarce.
Should I be bothered that every surface I come across has become sticky, dusty or just gross? And why does this not bother the other people who live here? I certainly don’t enjoy housework any more than the rest of them. Being a homeowner and parent has merely placed the burden of task management on my shoulders. Our cleanliness standards are comparatively low nowadays. I am way past the point of having to have things done perfectly. We just need them done. The predicament is that I want everybody to get up off the couch without a hassle.
I often ask myself if it is worth arguing about. Is it worth all the whining and the rolling of eyes? Is it worth the stress and being deemed “the bad guy” all the time? What is the cost of a clean house on an emotional level? Could chore enforcement strain familial relationships? Wise grandparents have advised that soon the kids will be grown and gone, and the chaos and the mess will be missed. We should take a poll.
Who misses a foul smelling bedroom that cannot be walked in because every inch of the floor is covered? Whether it is a long forgotten sandwich under the bed, clothes in desperate need of washing, or worse, it is indeed a scary scene to encounter. Many parents will say a child’s bedroom is their own private mecca, and not to intrude on it. Personally I want the ape stink eradicated.
So is it possible to make housework fun? I would like to think so. We can definitely whistle while we work, and sing while we scrub. I have seen it firsthand. While knee deep in dog hair, leaves, or land mines, it has been terrific to have someone with a good attitude holding the bag. A smile beats a scowl any day. There have been a few good bonding moments. We just need more of them. I am a proponent of teaching kids how to get along in life after they leave home and this tops the list. I vote we all foster good habits that will help them in the future to be better roommates, wives and husbands.
All that being said I am totally outnumbered and feel regularly defeated. I probably will never hire anybody. It’s just going to cost me being unpopular for a little while longer. Because the last time I checked, elbow grease was free.

“Have a place for everything and keep the thing somewhere else; this is not a piece of advice, it is merely a custom.”
~Mark Twain

Patricia Cates is a native Californian and a graduate of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. She obtained her bachelor of science degree in natural resources management and environmental science in 2012. She currently resides in Pocatello.