In Defense of Cleaning My Own House

By Ashlea Johnson, LCSW

Over the twelve years of my marriage we have had many renditions of household cleaning systems. We have been lucky enough to have wonderful house cleaning companies help us out. We have had fiscal crunches happen where we had to acknowledge the need to handle chores on our own. And we now have two elementary school age children that are capable of helping out with chores around the house. I’m finding that a game changer- one of those darn parenting moments where what you WANT is in opposition to what you KNOW to be in the best interest of the little humans your are responsible for raising into functional, self-sufficient adults one day.

Here’s the thing- I LOVE the luxury of having someone clean our house every other week. I literally calculated how much longer I would have to work to make up the money I spend on this service, and I easily accepted the longer years as a social worker before retiring in trade for the amazing feeling of coming home from work to a clean house. I love the accountability too- cleaning for the cleaning lady means decluttering on a routine basis for all corners of the house because this frugal momma wants her money’s worth when the cleaning company arrives! I don’t want areas left undusted because I stacked a bunch of paperwork I need to go through on the desk.

Now I am at a crossroad. I know the research… “Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school.” (

Anybody know a kid that could use more of those soft skills? Yea, me too… So here I sit, procrastinating the inevitable pushback of starting weekend chores. There will be checks of rooms and rechecks. There will be disputes over who should have to rearrange the shoe racks because one child inevitably will claim sabotage from the other. The next hours will be long and my patience will be tried. I will have to clean the bathrooms- because I just don’t trust them with that yet. However, at the end of the day I just hope they do learn they can push through unpleasant tasks. I hope they recognize how independent they can be and that they don’t need to rely on anyone. I hope they are resilient and that they remember our family works hard together. But I also will secretly wish the cleaning lady was coming this week.