As a wife, work from home mom, and the unofficial family manager, sometimes it feels like I do it all: I plan our schedules, maintain our finances, manage the food in our fridge, and care for and entertain our baby. I try my best to ensure that my husband and I hit all the marks and don't lose our minds in the process. But you know one thing I've had to learn to let go? Keeping a spotless home.
I clean and tidy daily, don't get me wrong! I just can't let it run my life anymore. You know why? Because housework never ends. Even when I finish the laundry, the clothes my family members are currently wearing still need to be washed—and I can usually take bets on whether they'll be thrown on the floor by the end of the day, calling my name from their heap. Floors always need to be swept again, and lots of times it seems immediately after they've been vacuumed. So many surfaces need to be dusted too. But babies don't keep, and in the broad scope of things, housework can seem senseless at times. There's much more to life than constantly cleaning.
Letting go of untouched household chores and learning to drop the associated guilt has been beneficial for me—and maybe even more so for our little girl's health. Johns Hopkins Children's Center actually released a study, Newborns Exposed to Dirt, Dander and Germs May Have Lower Allergy and Asthma Risk, in June 2014. Yes, there's research to encourage moms like me who are choosing to forgo the constant cleanup!
The study followed 467 inner-city newborns from Baltimore, Boston, New York and St. Louis for the first three years of life. Their findings suggested that newborns exposed to germs and pet dander in the first year of life are less likely to suffer from asthma and allergies later on.
Surprisingly, the study also noted that "when researchers studied the effects of cumulative exposure to both bacteria and mouse, cockroach and cat allergens, they noticed another striking difference. Children free of wheezing and allergies at age 3 had grown up with the highest levels of household allergens and were the most likely to live in houses with the richest array of bacterial species."
Mouse and cockroach allergens don't sound good to me; I would keep them out of our home no matter the cost! However, I now breathe easier knowing that any unswept, transient cat hair, or what my mom lovingly refers to as "tumbleweeds," is making my baby's immunity even stronger. The dust on the TV cabinet and on that light that I can't reach is shockingly good for her health, according to experts.
My husband had childhood asthma, which in turn puts our daughter at a greater risk of developing it, and has seasonal allergies. Thankfully, at ten months old, our girl has zero breathing problems — even after an extended hospital stay at two months old, due to the dreaded Respiratory Syncytial Virus — but I will definitely continue to let the dust and pet hair slide. Anything that boosts her health and makes my life easier is fine by me.
All in all, I believe this study translates to less time cleaning, more time spent making memories with family. Please show me a mama who would rather vacuum than giggle with her baby.