On housecleaning and toenail clipping

When a discussion of using a housekeeper exploded over on The Happiest Mom, I was taken by surprise. More than a hundred women commented on Meagan’s post about outsourcing housecleaning. Many felt too guilty to consider it and more than a few took a stand against it.

My husband and I have a cleaning person come to our house twice per month, and we also have someone who mows our lawn and tends to our landscaping every other week. When Meagan’s commenters started accusing women who outsource household labor of spending their time and efforts on the wrong things, I started making a mental list of all the things I outsource that I could be doing myself.

I could grow all my own vegetables, but I buy them at the grocery store.

I could change my own oil; I’m sure my dad would be happy to teach me how.

I could hem dresses that are too long for me, but I take them to a tailor. Heck, I could sew the dresses myself, but it would take so long, they’d fit poorly, and buying the fabric and notions would probably cost as much.

But I don’t do those things, and I don’t feel guilty about it.

About every two months, I get a pedicure. And if less time has gone by, say six weeks, it’s possible that I will have not cut my toenails in between visits to the nail salon. It is then that I laugh at myself and think “Who am I that I outsource the cutting of my toenails? That’s just plain weird!”

(Yet I outsource my eyebrow maintenance, and I don’t feel uncomfortable about it.)

I know I might get blasted on this post for confessing these behaviors, as a commenter on The Happiest Mom wrote underneath my comment

Because you have soooo much more pressing things to do with your time (making your own notepads–good grief–and going to mommy “summits”) it’s great you have “Maria” (gee, I wonder, could she be latin/hispanic?) to clean your house. Does nobody else find this nauseating?

I don’t feel I have to defend the way I spend my time to a stranger, so I won’t go there.

I actually have made a handful of articles of clothing for myself with my sewing machine. Once, I made a potholder.  I went through a beading phase and made necklaces. And now that I have kids came along I make things for them. Because it’s fun.

Usually, however, I buy things for myself already made. Isn’t this outsourcing? And usually I take my car to a car wash. (And when I am working, another woman puts my child down for her nap.)

Somehow, outsourcing housecleaning and childcare are the hot buttons. I’m guessing folks aren’t judging each other for buying bottled lemonade instead of making it from lemons.

When I hear people express guilt over hiring help, whether it’s for cleaning or childcare, I want to relieve that guilt for them. But we can’t tell each other how to feel.

So tell me, do you cut your own toenails?

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.