Similar to the struggle of getting through life without cellphones, Americans in urban cities find it impossible to live comfortable lives without hired household help. For better or worse, there are only 24 hours in a day coupled with a finite amount of time for us to do all the things we desire. (The least of those desirable things being cleaning up our homes). As technological advancements fuel our desire for instant gratification, competitive businesses intensifies and as a result work hours are extended. The combination of these factors together with an individual's commute time and a long list of other things many people hope accomplish before the night's end is enough to make us wonder if trying to do it all without hiring someone for home cleaning is simply impractical.
Enlisting paid help for house cleaning and other household tasks is no longer a consideration reserved for the rich & famous. Although many would say that they could handle a maniacal schedule involving everything from rising early in the morning to putting the kids to bed in addition to doing their own chores, the question is: Why would you and how might it be affecting your health as well as your quality of life? These are the questions we entertain as we examine a day in a life of an urban city resident and consider the following facts and statistics to help us determine just how practical it is/isn't to get it all done without hired help.
Getting yourself ready: Our unscientific guess is that it likely takes most people an average of 30 minutes to 1 hour to get themselves dressed and ready for work in the morning. Morning, self-preparation time can vary depending on whether or not a kids are involved, their ages and the time an individual actually gets to sleep the night before. Folks who know they have to get kids prepared tend to wake up quicker.
Getting the kids ready: Depending on the age of the kids, this could average anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
Walking the dog: Considering how rushed you may be, this can take between 10-20 minutes.(Total = 1:45 mins. of your day is gone.)
There is no surprise that we Americans continue put in crazy long hours for work, consistent with numerous reports and surveys over the years outlining the causes and effects of extended hours in the work place. As mentioned in a report by (Galinsky et al., 2004, p. xx):(Total = 2:08 mins. of your day is gone.)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average work commute time most people is 25.4 minutes. However, many residents of large cities know not leave their ability to arrive on time to the mercy and unpredictability of public transportation. For this reason its common practice for city dwellers to give themselves extra time making this 30-45 minutes.
"For those with too much to do, the Overwork in America study found that the very skills that are fundamental to succeeding in this global economy—specifically, moving quickly from task to task with little time for recovery in between, facing many interruptions, and working outside normal work hours, including vacations—can be useful but also can become detrimental."
However, pinpointing a comprehensive estimate of total hours most Americans spend working is complicated by experts who insist workers often exaggerate their time when asked and drawing officially reported time inaccurately accounts for overtime. In addition to their extended hours, workers with children may share childcare responsibilities with a spouse, relative, nanny, or organized sports club to keep them busy until they get off work; while others may run home to collect them immediately after school. Curving work hours for childcare is also a reason why workers take work home with them.
With so many workers using their personal cellphones and laptops for work, the 40 hour week has long become a thing of the past. As reported in the Harvard Business Review by (Deal, 2013):
"In a recent survey of 483 executives, managers, and professionals (EMPs), we found that 60% of those who carry smartphones for work are connected to their jobs 13.5 or more hours a day on weekdays and about five hours on weekends, for a total of about 72 hours."
It's challenging to say whether most people are working six days a week or just putting in more hours from Mon-Fri, but for the purposes of making sense of it and using our unscientific law of averages we are estimating the average daily total work time as 9.5 hours excluding a 1 hour paid lunch break.(Total = 11:38 mins. of your day is gone.)
The trip home is often a little more interesting than the trip to work because it's typically the time when most people stop for groceries and run other errands before reaching their homes. Rush hour congestion can also add more time due to traffic jams and overcrowded or stalled busses and trains. But since we've already calculated 30-45 mins. to get to work, we've calculated a uninterrupted commute home with no errands.(Total = 12:23 mins. of your day is gone.)
Now you've typically got 3-4 hours to walk your dog, make dinner for yourself and/or your family, help your kids with homework, change a few diapers, read a few bedtime stories, do whatever work you hoped to complete on your laptop and if you're lucky, watch one or two of your favorite TV shows before bed.(Total = 16:23 mins. of your day is gone.)
Now considering the fact that you might want to spend the last 7.5 hours of your 24 hour day sleeping, where exactly do you squeeze in sweeping, moping or vacuuming floors, cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, scrubbing a tub/shower, washing laundry, scrubbing walls, cleaning windows, dusting or cleaning light fixtures? Most importantly, even if you can power through it and squeeze it into your schedule somehow, why would you?
Given the timeline above (or any slight variation which might better match your schedule), it doesn't take a skilled mathematician to deduce the difficulty in squeezing in time for chores. We all need time to decompress. Without taking the time to stop to relieve the stress and tension, many run the risk compromising their health. No one wants to work every second of their life outside of sleep. So whether you choose to enlist paid household help frequently or infrequently it is easy to understand how many big city residents consider it a crucial factor in maintaining their quality of life.
Galinsky, E., Bond, J. T., Kim, S. S., Backon, L., Brownfield, E., & Sakal, K. (2004). Overwork in america (xxx).Retrieved from Families and Work Institute website: http://familiesandwork.org/.../OverworkinAmerica.pdf
Golden, L. (2015, April 9). Irregular work scheduling and its consequences:Retrieved from: http://www.epi.org/publication/irregular-work-scheduling-and-its-consequences/
Deal, J. J. (2013, September 12). Welcome to the 72-hour work week.Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2013/09/welcome-to-the-72-hour-work-we/