A New Kind of Deficiency in Our Lives

It seemed like society went through a time where we tried to feed ourselves artificially without losing out on the good stuff of real food. Maybe it was spawned by World War II where having non-perishable nutritional food was important. Maybe it was spawned by the industrial revolution where we tried to streamline everything as much as possible. Then, when we weren’t getting the vitamins we needed, we supplemented them. White bread isn’t good enough? Let’s just enrich the flour. Not getting enough vegetables? Just take a multivitamin.

Now in the 21st century we’re reversing course to some degree. We’re realizing that plain white bread might not be all that great, cold cereal should probably be classified as a dessert, and apple juice is bad for you, unlike real apples. Supplemental vitamins, it turns out, aren’t nearly as good as the real thing from real food.

Now for the analogy: our parents, at least for those of us in the middle class, did the yard work, the house work, they washed their cars in the driveway. When we kids were big enough, we helped out with as many chores as we had to before we could go play with our friends on Saturday.

I’m in my thirties, I’m married, and I have a daughter. We’re not rich by any means, but we’ve found that we can be more efficient if we pay others to clean our house, to work in our yard for us.

You’ve probably heard the economic argument of it: the increased hours you can spend working outweigh the cost of paying someone else to do it. We recently realized we could get our house cleaned twice a month for $150. That’s less than a day’s worth of wages for one of us, and since it would take a least a day to do the same work, we’re coming out on top financially. It’s a net gain.

Not to mention the lower levels of stress when your house is clean. No more getting home from work, stressing about what needs to be done around the house, not enjoying anything because you’re stressed, and then still putting it off.

However, what if the analogy is true? What if we gain something by doing these things ourselves that can’t be quantified economically? What if the act of doing our own housework does something to our brains that we simply can’t track yet, much like we didn’t realize that replacing fruits and vegetables with a vitamin wasn’t good for us?

After all, for this to work out economically, we have to work enough extra hours to make it worth it. An hour of work might pay for two hours of house cleaning, but what if those two hours of house cleaning actually de-stress our brains whereas an extra hour of work adds stress?

Or what if we disconnect ourselves too much from the tasks of homeownership? Continuing the food analogy, it’s like how we Americans are a little disgusted by dead animals when we see the whole thing, as opposed to the pre-packaged pieces that we eat all the time. Is there something gained by getting down on our own hands and knees to pull weeds and scrub the bathroom floor?

I don’t know. It’s just an analogy, and that doesn’t mean it’s true. In the meantime, I should get back to work so I can afford having the house cleaners over later this week.

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