If having a clean house is the marker for being a good mom, well I'm failing. But if working and raising good kids is, well then I'm kicking ass.
Life Parenting

Cleanliness Does Not Equal Confidence: Being a Modern Mom

If having a clean house is the marker for being a good mom, well I'm failing. But if working and raising good kids is, well then I'm kicking ass.

By Elizabeth Redhead Kriston of redheadkriston.com & My Brunette Life as a Redhead 

I consider myself a fairly organized and self-assured mom. At least I did until my printer mysteriously started delivering weekly guilt trips.

Not long after my husband “fixed” our wacky printer, it delivered a mysterious, colorful sheet weekly. I blamed it on the kids. Eventually, I got tired of seeing the paper sitting untouched in the printer tray, so I grabbed it.

At first glance it looked like some sort of journal entry. I tossed it aside. The next week it appeared, I looked a bit more closely, seeing it was something for “mom.” Distracted by my glass of wine, I tossed it aside.

Though its relentless reappearance sparked more interest, it took my husband’s guffaws coming from the kitchen, followed by him running into the living room, shaking the paper and thrusting it toward where I sat sipping wine as I watched the dust piling up on the surfaces around me, for the content of that mysterious paper to be revealed. 

My husband, with much guidance on my part, evolved into a feminist (well, a feminist with a twisted sense of humor rooted in male chauvinism). His dichotomous perspectives caused him equal parts outrage and amusement at the content.

Smirking, he read me the page, then awaited my reaction. My immediate and obvious outrage did not disappoint. He was practically dancing with giddiness!

This weekly newsletter, entitled The Confident Mom, which he “inadvertently” subscribed to, was more than a newsletter. It listed all of the things “good moms” should accomplish daily and weekly. The implication that moms completing the listed tasks provided the healthy environment needed for their families to thrive seemed absurd.

The first section listed 14 items moms should accomplish each day, such as:

  • Personal quiet time
  • Make-up beds
  • Prep dinner
  • Tidy kitchen
  • Get Moving
  • Ten Minutes of self-Care

I am not one to linger in the bathroom, primping and preening, but even the plainest Jane needs more than “ten minutes of self-care.” By the time I have my daily constitutional and brush my teeth, my allotted ten minutes has expired. Perhaps by consolidating my “personal quiet time” with my “self-care,” I’d have more time to complete all the tasks listed next, a weekly calendar of chores.

Since the author and I both work and have families, I compared “her” days with “my” days.

Her Sunday: Make shopping lists; plan weekly menu; review family calendar; sweep and mop kitchen floor.

My Sunday: Pretty much the same, but I also grocery shop and cook meals for the week. I prod, then yell at the rest of the family to “do your chores.” I write and work.

Her Monday: Wash kids’ sheets; dust and vacuum kids’ rooms, upper floors, and stairs; shine mirrors.

My Monday: I work. I might vacuum.

Her Tuesday: Disinfect & wipe toilets; check toilet paper supply; dust surfaces in living area; vacuum the furniture and living area; check kitchen floor and sweep.

My Tuesday: I work. “Checking toilet paper” translates to screaming for help as we stare, helpless and stranded at the empty tube. Why would I even look at the kitchen floor on Tuesday? I just washed it on Sunday! It’s good for at least a week, maybe two. Can furniture be vacuumed? Perhaps I should try this.

Her Wednesday: Wipe the remotes; wipe and clean one shelf in the refrigerator; wipe down the coffeemaker; wipe out the microwave; wipe the kitchen light fixtures; clean tubs and shower.

My Wednesday: I work. Wipe the remotes! Seriously? First, I would have to find them and then pry them from the sweaty, sticky hand that holds them. Wipe one shelf in the fridge? You know if you wipe one, then the others look dirty, and the next thing you know you have the entire thing torn apart and you are throwing away condiments that expired in the seventies. Just walk away from that dirty fridge! Since I am the “coffeemaker,” I am certain I do not need a wiping down, but then it depends on who is doing the wiping 😉

Her Thursday: Wash master bedroom sheets; clean master bedroom surfaces; declutter nightstands; vacuum master bedroom; clean bathroom sinks/shine mirrors; check kitchen floor.

My Thursday: Did I tell you I WORK? Why make beds when the rooms have doors?

Her Friday: Wash kitchen floor; empty all trash; wipe down appliance doors and phones; wash bathroom rugs and floors; replace bath hand towels.

My Friday: Um, still working. What is happening to the kitchen floor that it needs so much attention?

Her Saturday: Water houseplants; kids straighten bedrooms; straighten car interior.

My Saturday:  More work. I am probably nursing a mild hangover from the one too many glasses of wine I had Friday night. I am enjoying some much-needed family time.

Just when you, the mom whom I am confident is exhausted and a touch resentful at all the cleaning-up you made yourself do, think you have finished, there is still more. Other weekly tasks like paying bills, ironing, wiping down computers, cleaning the dryer vent (who does this weekly?), tidying the front porch, and wiping out the silverware drawer are listed.

After reading this “helpful list,” I am confident that my choice to be a working mom with a somewhat dirty house who relies on the entire family to get the house we all live in clean is the best choice for me.

I want my kids to grow up watching their mom confidently juggle work and home. I want them to grow up confident in their responsibility and ability to maintain a home and family, not because they happen to be girls, but because they are equal members of a family.

So, I write this while sipping some wine on a beautiful Sunday, knowing my house needs a good cleaning but confident in my choice to choose my passion over a dust rag. Cheers!

This post was originally published on My Brunette Life as a Redhead


About the Author

Elizabeth Redhead Kriston is an expert juggler of life. Somehow she manages to find time to pay attention to her husband, kids, and pets while writing children’s books, blogging, and working as a speech therapist. Liz escapes all of her responsibilities and relaxes by walking, kayaking, and reading. Though Liz is fairly inept in all things tech, she can be followed on Twitter @redheadkriston, on Instagram redheadkriston and her website www.redheadkriston.com She posts blogs on a variety of topics at mybrunettelifeasaredhead.blogspot.com