Superman and I were discussing home improvement projects the other day and Superman said something that has been bouncing around in my head ever since. With respect to paying someone to work for you, he said, "You pay people thousands of dollars to do the job and you don't want to have to worry about the job. At that point, you just expect it to be handled." He's absolutely correct. On the rare occasions that we've paid someone to perform work for us, we've just expected it to be done expediently and correctly. Once we've made the decision to let someone else handle it, we pick someone to do the job that will, in fact, do the job, thereby freeing us to move on to something else.
That conversation got me thinking about work we don't pay someone else to do. Work we've held onto as our responsibility and how we handle that responsibility. I was looking at my bathroom (my not-so-secret shame) and thinking that I would definitely NOT hire me to clean bathrooms. I just don't clean them enough. Seriously.
That is how it started. After that, I assessed my performance as I performed all sorts of everyday tasks. In some cases, I was pleased by my performance evaluations. In others, a bit chagrined.
Here is what I concluded: I'm an okay jane-of-all trades housekeeper, but I still have stuff to learn from Aunt Bee and June Cleaver. I would NOT hire me to clean floors, but I would DEFINITELY hire me for vacuuming. Dusting? Once a week has to be good enough. Windows? Uh, moving right along. Cook? I would hire me to cook if you like "plain" fare, but if you're looking for exotic meals, I'm not your girl. Kitchen maid? My kitchen is clean and organized. Laundress? I am your girl. Bookkeeper? For plain-vanilla record keeping, I'm definitely worth hiring, but that is partly because I'm really good at the next task. Organizer? I would not hesitate to hire me to keep the house organized, too. Gardening and yard work? Not so much, but I'd make a really good apprentice (I have the desire and commitment, but not the know-how.) Auto Maintenance? LOL! We pay people to do that!
What about all these other jobs? Financial Manager? Supply Officer? Wardrobe Mistress? Fitness coach? Nutritionist? Social Director? What is it you do all day and are you doing it well enough that you'd hire yourself to do the quality of work you give to yourself and your family? Have you ever thought about it in those terms?
In this day and age, we all have the option of working outside the home or staying in the home. We also have the option of having smaller homes or larger homes. How many of us, however, treat the tasks we have in conjunction with those choices as jobs we've agreed to do. Using my bathroom example (yes, I'll take one for the team here): By failing to clean my bathrooms often enough, I am failing to do a job I was "hired" to do when Superman and I agreed that I would stop working outside the home and takeover the home-caring duties. No one forced me into this "job". I chose it very deliberately. I worked outside the home (in offices) for 20 years. Filing was boring, but I never would have refused to do my filing on the grounds that I "just am a slacker in that area", so why is it that I think it is okay to shirk my bathroom cleaning duties?
It comes down to these ideas:
Acceptance of responsibility: It really is my job and I agreed to do it when I accepted the job. I doubt Aunt Bee complained to Sheriff Andy that she didn't feel like cooking dinner for Opie and him.
Objective assessment: Would I pay someone to do the job I'm doing? (Um, in the case of my bathrooms...yes, I'd pay someone to do the job I'm doing, but she'd need to show up to work more frequently.) I doubt June Cleaver was ever embarrassed to have someone see her "cat bathroom".
Prioritization and Standards: I have to decide if a certain task really needs to be done (and how frequently). Some things don't really need to be done. What do I mean? I really, really didn't want to be a "Pool and Spa Boy" a few years ago, but Superman's job was leaving him with insufficient time to handle the job himself. (It had been his job.) After a summer of inadequacy (and a green pool), I convinced Superman that since neither of us wanted to be the "Pool Boy", we should just get rid of the pool. Oh, the feeling of release that came when that happy young family took off with our pool. I can't tell you. No longer did we have a job that we did poorly, instead the job went along with the pool. In short order, we figured out neither of us wanted to be the "Spa Boy", either, so the hot tub left a few months later. In effect, we "quit" those jobs.
Caring for a home is a job made up of many different jobs that you've accepted when you made the decision to live someplace that doesn't, in fact, have full time housekeeping. It is just the way it is. No more excuses...you wouldn't accept them from somebody you were paying to do the job, so why are you accepting them from yourself?
Me? I'm just not getting the bathrooms cleaned frequently enough and I'm unwilling to get rid of them, so I've got to stop doing such a poor job. I signed up for this.
My post actually ties in nicely with Momstheword's Making Your Home Sing Monday post this week, so I'm linking to her meme. She's got some really good thoughts about "taking back your home". (I guess we were both looking around and assessing what we could do better this week!)