A mom’s unpaid labor to her house each week: $300. (Jennifer Bardsley)

A mom’s unpaid labor to her house each week: $300. (Jennifer Bardsley)

My house was clean three weeks ago. Sorry you missed it

Sticker-shock quotes from housecleaning businesses inform a mom just what her labor is worth.

Whoever said it doesn’t cost money to be clean was lying. Yes, soap is cheapm but the time, energy and ability to clean are precious things.

Three weeks ago I tore my right calf muscle. I’m at the start of the projected 6-week-to-3-month recovery period. Meanwhile, my once-clean house is going through an identity crisis.

After the first few days on crutches I realized it would be wise to hire a housecleaning service. Lots of people have housekeepers. How expensive could it be? We have a 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom house.

The first service I contacted quoted me an initial cleaning of $1,020 and then $320 a week after that. The second service said the first cleaning would be about $816 and then $277 afterwards. The third service would have charged $380 for the first visit, and $330 afterwards. House cleaners work hard and they deserve to be paid living wages. Business owners have insurance bills to pay and other expenses. I understand why these quotes were so high. But that doesn’t mean that hiring help was in our budget, unfortunately. So I came up with an alternate solution which was divvying up the chores I usually do amongst my family members.

My husband has always been a champ at helping with housework, but since he works long hours, there’s only so much he can add to his already busy day. Our teenagers have always helped, too. They do their own laundry, sort out their rooms, clean their bathroom and wash their dishes. Now I was adding big chores to their list like driving me on errands and buying groceries, as well as little chores like opening the blinds in the morning and closing them at night. It’s the little chores where things get sticky.

My daughter will gladly raise the blinds but she’s not tall enough to open them all the way. My son wonders why not keep the blinds open all the time and stop messing with them?

Nobody but me seems to understand that even though we have a locked mailbox, it still needs to be emptied every day.

There is a 72-roll mega pack of toilet paper that has sat in our entryway for days waiting to be put away. Apparently it’s invisible.

But the major source of untidiness around here is me. I’ve become a clutter machine because I can’t easily pick something up and put it away. I collect clutter everywhere I sit.

As our house slowly descends into messiness, I’ve been reflecting on my own unpaid labor over the years. If I had both legs working, and could spend today getting my house shipshape, that would be worth $1,000. I usually give $300 worth of labor to my household every week, just by vacuuming and scrubbing toilets. That’s a lot!

The value of a mom’s financial labor is often invisible, but like toilet paper, as soon as it runs out you desperately miss it.

Jennifer Bardsley is the author of “Sweet Bliss,” “Good Catch” and more. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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