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Mothers Come Clean About Their Special Day

Survey Reveals A One-Day Vacation From Housework Just Isn't Enough

From her many jobs as cook, cleaner, grocery shopper, chauffeur and social director, mom typically receives just one day off a year - Mother's Day. In a 2000 national survey by American Cleaning Institute, 82 percent of moms said that they would like to see the housework vacation that they enjoy on Mother's Day happen more often.

"Today's mothers have to juggle so many more responsibilities than they did when the first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1914," explains Sandy Beckwith, author of Why Can't A Man Be More Like A Woman and creator of the Do(o) Little Report, which takes a lighthearted look at male behavior. The survey found that even with many mothers working fulltime outside of the home, women are still doing the majority of the housework in 46 percent of homes today, a number that has decreased only slightly (11%) since a generation ago. Says Beckwith, "A one-day break from household chores is no longer enough when the average worker can look forward to 10 vacation days each year."

Over 80 percent of Americans agree that mothers deserve more than one day off a year (87% of men/84% of women). So for grateful children and spouses who are looking for a special Mother's Day gift, ACI suggests the Vacation from Housework Certificate, good for 10 days off during the year. And to help mom relax about the housework when she cashes in her certificate, the ACI has also created How to Help Out Mom on Her Vacation Days, which provides some basic tips to smart cleaning.

The information in How to Help Out Mom on Her Vacation Days emphasizes the importance of reading cleaning product labels and following directions, and highlights some key advice by household task. Tips include:

Laundry
  • Separate colors from whites (to keep dyes from bleeding onto lighter-colored fabrics) and heavily soiled items from lightly soiled ones.
  • Match the wash cycle and water level to the load.
Kitchen
  • Use a clean, damp sponge or paper towel to clean up crumbs and other food scraps after preparing or eating food.
  • Before mopping the floor, sweep or vacuum it first to get rid of loose dirt.
The Family Room
  • To dust wood furniture, spray a dusting product on a clean, soft cloth or use a special dusting aid. Don't use a dry rag or a paper towel - this will just spread the dust and could scratch the finish.
  • Put a coaster or napkin under beverage glasses to prevent water spots on wood surfaces.

"Cleaning is easier than ever before, thanks to a whole bunch of new cleaning products. And by following the tips in How to Help Out Mom on Her Vacation Days, there's no reason why husbands and children can't pitch in more around the house - and why moms shouldn't let them," says Beckwith. "Come on guys, why not give mom what she really wants this Mother's Day - more than one day off from the chores!"

The ACI National Cleaning Survey 2000, which included telephone interviews with a national sample of approximately 1,003 adults, 18 years and older, was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International.

How to Help Out Mom on Her Vacation Days

So mom isn't faced with a big clean up after her well-deserved break, ACI has created this "cheat sheet" for kids and spouses that outlines how they can help out around the house while mom's "on vacation."

Always Keep in Mind
  • Read the cleaning product label. Different products work in different ways and can have different instructions for using them. Follow the directions to get the best results. Call the toll-free (1-800) number on the label if you have questions.
  • Never mix different cleaning products together. They can make dangerous fumes.
Laundry

Whether stripping the bedding after mom has breakfast in bed or taking the initiative to do your own laundry, the following can help ensure a successful load.

  • Separate colors from whites (to keep dyes from bleeding onto lighter-colored fabrics) and heavily soiled items from lightly soiled ones.
  • Match the wash cycle and water level to the load.
  • Use the recommended amount of detergent.
Bathroom

Just because mom is taking a break doesn't mean it's time to neglect bathroom hygiene or good family manners. Here are some important things to remember:

  • Wipe toothpaste globs from the sink before they harden.
  • Hang up wet towels and leave shower doors and curtains open after use to help prevent mildew from growing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly after using the toilet.
Kitchen

Even mom makes a mess in the kitchen. To clean up, we recommend:

  • Use a clean, damp sponge or paper towel to clean up crumbs and other food scraps after preparing or eating food.
  • Wipe up spills before they have a chance to dry.
  • Before mopping the floor, sweep or vacuum it first to get rid of loose dirt.
The Family Room

As the hub of all activities, the family room needs a little more TLC than most. Don't forget to:

  • Take at least six to eight strokes over each area when you vacuum. Be sure to move the furniture!
  • Spray a dusting product on a clean, soft cloth to dust wood furniture or use a special dusting aid. Don't use a dry rag or a paper towel - this will just spread the dust and could scratch the finish.
  • Put a coaster or napkin under beverage glasses to prevent water spots on wood surfaces.