Why I don’t want you to clean for me on Mother’s Day

A clean house or “a day off from cleaning” is a crappy Mother’s Day gift. There I said it. 

You might be reading this thinking ‘WTF are you talking about, I really, really do want a clean house for Mother’s Day. Stop ruining this for us!” and I get it, I really do. I see the panic in your eyes.

Hear me out.

I understand that mumming is the most demanding job in the world, and there are literally no days off (a rude shock after you pop out your first kid). I get that Mother’s Day may seem like your only opportunity to temporarily reclaim some of your brain space usually occupied by the mental load. I know you feel like you’re one wiped counter away from a repetitive stress injury. I am one of you.

Yet the idea of not having to clean for one day being a “gift” for me, stokes the feminist rage that dwells deep within. (Read more feminist fire here)

It’s 2022, and holy shit are we making great strides towards equality in co-parenting. It’s an excruciatingly slow shift, but brick by brick we are dismantling generations of built-up gendered stereotypes. 

We have cottoned on to the concept of the mental load and we’re attempting to redistribute it more evenly. So why is this stereotype of cleaning as a Mother’s Day gift still hanging around like an unwanted party guest at the end of the night? And why are we acting like it’s socially unacceptable to ask it to leave?

Ask any dad what he wants for Father’s Day and I’d be very surprised if he said “I would love to not have to clean today” or “For someone else to handle the mental load for the day”.

Google both “what do mums want for Mother’s Day” and “what do dads want for Father’s Day” and compare how many times cleaning is suggested as a gift for each. Go on, I’ll wait.

Now, if you’ve gotten to this point and the thought of a day off from domestic duties still stokes a different, sultrier type of fire in you (LBH this is all of us) go forth and enjoy your day as is. Soak up all the extra brain space you can, for as long as you can. You damn well deserve it.

But do me this favour: After Mother’s Day has been and gone, when your brain starts rapid firing to-dos again and the washing starts piling up, sit your partner and/or your kids down.

Explain calmly like the Queen you are that you will no longer be accepting cleaning, or a break from the mental load as a “gift”; that their contribution to cleaning isn’t a result of mum needing help. They aren’t doing you a favour, they’re learning how to play their part and function within a partnership, and a team. 

If they protest, tell them that if that’s the case, they’ll be receiving the exact same gift back for all their future birthdays.

Now copy this bit and send it to your significant other:

When your incredible, selfless spouse asks for cleaning, time off, or for you to take over the mental load for the day – this isn’t actually a gift request. This is a cry for help my friend. This goddess of a woman who took one for the team and endured nine months of pregnancy AND childbirth (seriously, what a woman), isn’t getting what she needs, simply put.

Making an effort to take over your household’s domestic duties isn’t a “gift” for one day of the year. If it was, I’d say your partner is “gifting” you every damn day (Crap! – that’s a lot of gifting to make up for). 

Now go tell her she’s amazing and buy her the glorious present she deserves for Mother’s Day!

Share this article with a mum who deserves an amazing Mother’s Day (or a little bit more help every other day).

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