Got Orthonomics in your Email Box?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not Mutually Exclusive

A reader kindly pointed out an article that appeared in Mishpacha magazine which looked primarily at the challenges of regular cleaning help (having a non-Jew as a member of a Jewish household, being a good employer, payroll legalities, when kids get too used to the amenity, and more). I guess the article was biased towards cleaning help, noting a famous Rebbitzen who talked about trading in fancier dinners for more tuna and cleaning help. For many, there is no such calculation.

In the sidebar, the author writes a little history of household help titled "How Maids Became the Rule, Not the Exception." The truth of the matter is, yes, cleaning help has become a very marketable service in the United States, as evidenced by the many cleaning agencies that one can locate in the yellow pages. But regular cleaning help is still the exception, not the rule across the USA. I wish I could find the footnote in a book I read about spending habits in the United States where it noted that homes employing cleaning help had doubled between the late 70's and late 90's. The percentage of middle income to upper income households employing regular cleaning help is still somewhere around 15%. Of course, if you live in the frum community, it would be easy to believe that cleaning help is the rule, rather than the exception, because within the frum community that is largely true.

The part of the article I wanted to concentrate on is this:

Every Jewish woman has to keep in mind her natural inclinations and her priorities. Most rabbanim will insist that a Jewish mother’s primary tafkid is not housecleaning,not even cooking, but the chinuch of her children. If our children are well-cared for and given the proper love and Torah guidance, then it doesn’t really matter whether the kitchen floor is washed by Mom, by Dad, or by an immigrant from Guatemala. Cleaning the house is a relatively low-skilled job that many different people could do, but Jewish motherhood requires a large measure of seichel and love that are not easily replaced.

Perhaps it is because I lack *paid* cleaning help, but I do not view chinuch and cooking/cleaning as separate realms in which if I am doing one, I can't be doing another. Granted, one's work schedule certainly plays into the equation. Not only do I believe that I can both parent and cook/clean at the same time while enhancing the chinuch my children receive, but I believe that engaging in some cooking and cleaning with them around and/or participate is part of being mechanech them. Perhaps the most important lessons they will learn are that of caring for belongings and that sometimes things just need to get done. (This, of course, is not to say one has to do all of the cooking/cleaning to be mechanech, just to point out that they need not be viewed as separate realms, one detracting from the other).

I have run into many children over the years (and a handful of adults too) that have no idea how to perform basic tasks. The author seemed to be dismissive of the skills involved in cleaning writing that "[cleaning is a] relatively low-skilled job that many different people could do" as she compares cleaning to Jewish parenting. But is cleaning really something "anyone" can do? Well, yes, with the proper training. Few parents would say the same of learning handwriting, i.e. anyone can do it. We recognize that the brain needs training in this area and we recognize that the fine motor skills necessary for writing need to be developed, preferably in the younger years. Same goes for cleaning. There are fine and gross motor skills that need developed, as well as certain brain functions. And, yes, not everyone has developed those skills adequately.

By no means do a mother, father, and children need to do all of their own cleaning at all times. However, chazal tells us that we need to ensure our children have the life skills they need. Basic cleaning and cooking should be part of the chinuch we provide our children, and we should not be dismissive thinking "anyone" can do it, because, well, I've seen plenty of grown adults who can't do it!*

*I'm reminded of a neighbor who called me on a Friday noon desperate to borrow my non-existent cleaning lady, as her cleaning lady was sick that day. I informed her that I didn't have a cleaning lady, but was more than happy to give her a hand (Note: her husband was a student and she only worked about 10 hours a week. They had no kids at this point). She wouldn't allow me to come up and lend a hand, but was rather amazed that I either knew how to clean and/or was willing to do the job, saying "you clean your own bathroom." Personally, I wish she would have accepted my help. I can't think of a much bigger chesed than helping an adult become more fully functional.

38 comments:

triLcat said...

I'm trying (with setbacks) to learn how to do chinuch and household management at the same time.

I had some success last week making a stew. My 21-month-old took each potato peeling, one by one, to the garbage can for me. I praised her for helping with the cooking and cleaning and I tried to explain what veggies I was putting in the stew...

I still tend to put her in her high chair so she can't get in the way, but I'm trying to be more patient and trying to include her more. I guess it's also some chinuch for me :)

SephardiLady said...

At 21 months the attention span is only starting to develop. Sometimes the lesson after the helping ends is that she needs to pick something else to work on quietly.

tesyaa said...

When I skimmed the article I noticed the tuna dinners v. cleaning help calculation. I think it would take a lot of tuna dinners to add up to, say, $60 per week for cleaning help.

I think the reason frum families might employ more cleaning help than the average American is family size. When my kids were being born I could not imagine doing without help -- pregnancy, nursing, infant care, toddler care and cleaning didn't mix. Now my kids are somewhat older, they're out of the house much more, and even though I'm now working full time we've been surviving without cleaning help for the last several months. It wasn't entirely the money that made me give it up; it was the poor quality of cleaning from even the nicest, most well meaning cleaning ladies. I can just do a much better job myself in less time.

When I was a SAHM I often chatted with my cleaning ladies. I was amazed at how poorly they felt they were treated by their other frum employers. Many of the frummer people insist on having floor washed on hands and knees -- a mop won't do. They often "forget" to pay, etc. I think this comes from the mentality that the non-Jew is somewhat less than human. It's very disturbing.

alpidarkomama said...

"Personally, I wish she would have accepted my help. I can't think of a much bigger chesed than helping an adult become more fully functional."

This made me laugh out loud!!!!! :) I'm a nearly-fully functional adult without a cleaning lady. :)

Anonymous said...

My cousin was staying with another cousin who had given birth to a sick preemie. She was helping with the older children, etc. When she was asked to clean the bathroom, she was embarrassed, at age 18, to say she didn't know how. And she wasn't a spoiled, pampered girl, but she'd never been taught to clean a bathroom.

rosie said...

That is one of those calculations that people keep in mind when figuring out if they need a heter for BC. If they have help with running the house, it is more tolerable to have lots of kids. If there is no money for help, and either the mother is worn out or the house is upside down, it is difficult to cope.
One statement in the article was that many frum homes have illegal cleaning women because they are the only ones whose prices are fair. I was surprised at that statement that there was a fair price for a cleaning lady to charge.

Commenter Abbi said...

I don't think the point is whether they are mutually exclusive, but more prioritizing. Particularly for working mothers, who probably have limited time to spend with their children- do they want to spend that time cleaning toilets or with their children, helping them with homework, playing with them, reading them stories? Most moms who enjoy being with their kids would pick the latter. And if they have to put off cleaning toilets till after the kids are asleep- that's probably they time they want to collapse. (i speak from experience).

Once a week cleaning help does not preclude teaching and modeling cleaning tasks around the house. I grew up with cleaning help but I knew how to clean my apartment when i moved out. I don't remember my mother actually showing me how to do it nor was I ever given the chore of doing so at home. It's really something I just figured out on my own, like most of the other cleaning tasks.

Anonymous said...

SL-

What would you do if a young woman said she could either spend time with her kids or clean? Would you continue to insist that she do could do both? To what point? What if it was true?
I agree that everyone needs some cleaning skills, you never know when they might come on handy, but many people don't have the energy for both. Those women who can clean and spend time with their kids truly have a bracha, but don't judge those who say they can't or are willing to eat Tuna so that they don't have to choose between cleaning and spending time with their kids.

rosie said...

I believe that the same issue of Mishpacha also had an article about the increase in poisonings and drownings that occur in frum homes before Pesach. It might literally be p'kuach nefesh to hire someone to do the heavy cleaning rather than to ignore a baby or toddler and attempt to clean while they are awake. Any cleaning during a child's waking hours should be with a wet sponge and mild soap, not with bleach or a bucket of water.

SephardiLady said...

I've seen a lot of budgets and the unfortunate truth is that many people don't have a lot of room to be trading chicken for tuna.

If someone doesn't have enough time and can really afford (which we can loosely define as cash on hand that isn't needed for current or future needs) then by all means, cut out the cleaning help.

I just object to this assumption that people can trade out one thing for another. Many can't, as tesyaa stated.

SephardiLady said...

I was surprised at that statement that there was a fair price for a cleaning lady to charge.

Agreed. Market rate is a "fair" price.

G*3 said...

Where do the men figure into this? Aren't any of the fathers involved in child care or household chores?
I do the cleaning, my wife does the cooking, and we share child care. (We would share household chores evenly, but I'm a lousy cook and dust just doesn't seem to bother her the way it does me.)

SephardiLady said...

Anonymous-One more note. . .I'm NOT judging. I am disagreeing with the assertion that cleaning help is the rule, rather than the exception is. A cell phone is. Cleaning help isn't (outside of the Orthodox community).

I am stating that I don't put household work in a separate box from chinuch. Just stating that they can co-exist where possible. (If I worked outside of the house fulltime, I'd probably be hiring someone from time to time).

I am objecting to the assertion that "anyone" can clean. Clearly that isn't the case.

If someone needs cleaning help, by all means, get cleaning help. But I've been asked by other mothers about tips on keeping a house in order because they don't want to spend the money, but they haven't really found their groove. Those who want to find their groove should know that with some adjustments, it can be done.

Mike S. said...

I have both had cleaning help, and also done it myself (or with my wife.) I have a hard time making this a moral issue; assuming one treats the help properly it is a trade between money and time, and, for us, which was more important has varied over time. I do not believe it is an issue principally for frum Jews. I remember when my wife went back to graduate school with 3 barely school-age kids my Gentile boss told me in no uncertain terms that I should hire some cleaning help.

RaggedyMom said...

Great post, so timely.

I actually grew up with little knowledge of how to clean because my mother is extremely fastidious about cleaning and honestly enjoys it. This may sound silly, but when I got married, I took her along to the hardware store to figure out which cleaning products and implements I needed, we went to the apartment I was newly renting, and she showed me her routine.

While I don't get up at 4:30 a.m. and run through all of it nearly every day as she does, I really did learn a great deal by being shown what to do directly, aside from what I had assimilated being an admittedly spoiled, preoccupied child (in that I wasn't expected to pitch in at home while growing up).

My husband taught me how to wash the floors and do heavy cleaning. He's still the best at it, and is more than happy to pitch in but isn't home all that much between long hours at work and school at night. When his family moved from one country to another (he was 11), his mother, who had a background in economics as well as in nursing, worked as a cleaning woman at first. The work was very hard for her - she had had a mild case of polio as a child - and he and his sister would accompany her and help with the work.

Nowadays, with my own kids, I try as much as possible to inculcate the values of being a part of maintaining our home, if only so that they are less clueless and intimidated than I was.

There are friends and relatives I can think of who have regular cleaning help at home, whose children just drop their clothes, toys, and belongings wherever they fall, or who would never contemplate picking up a rag and wiping up a spill, but this isn't across the board.

I do emphasize (and re-emphasize!) more of a sense of participation and helpfulness on the part of the kids, although they are younger (1 1/2, 3, and 5). I tell them that they're lower to the ground, and it's easier for them to bend than it is for me (this is true). It helps that my oldest is cooperative and sets a good tone for the rest.

Although it may be an easier trap to fall into, it certainly isn't the case that kids with cleaning help at home are clueless or spoiled. There are plenty of kids to be sure who have a sense of responsibility with household help in place, just as surely as I was a kid without cleaning help at home who knew little about cooking, cleaning, etc. It's definitely an attitude.

ProfK said...

It seems to be that the argument is breaking down as follows: have regular cleaning help and your children will not have the teaching they need nor develop the skills necessary to clean for themselves; don't have regular cleaning help and your children will be taught those skills by you as they help you clean. This is so not an either/or situation.

Let's look at the facts. If someone has weekly help that help is there from 4-8 hours for the day. Depending on your household and its condition, a lot of straightening gets done and some cleaning as well. But in that time period it is simply not possible to clean everything that has to be cleaned in a house. In addition, some tasks that are done on cleaning day also require being done on other days. If you've messed up the kitchen on Friday do you seriously leave that mess until the cleaning help comes the next Thursday? The only time that counters are cleaned is once a week? I have regular cleaning help and in no way does that leave me with no cleaning to do--I'm cleaning something every day. Even with cleaning help the kids had and have their chores to do and plenty to help me with as well. There is plenty of time and opportunity to teach the kids what needs to be taught about cleaning, if you are so inclined.

And what about those who do not have regular cleaning help? They aren't necessarily doing more teaching of cleaning skills to their kids. Some never involve their children at all in the process. Some of these women do not themselves know how to approach cleaning a house systematically, and some, frankly, just don't care about cleaning. They look at it as drudgery and they aren't interested. They do the absolute minimum--and sometimes not that--and nothing more.

It's simply illogical to assume that in homes with cleaning help children receive no training in cleaning and in homes with no cleaning help they do. And let's not romanticize cleaning either. The vast majority of cleaning tasks do not require intense study and mental effort--yes, anyone can do them if you show them how once or twice. This is not brain surgery we are talking about.

Commenter Abbi said...

Profk, I agree completely. I have once a week help, but my kids still have to put away their toys every day before bed, I still have to wash dishes every day and clean the counters and do a big kitchen cleaning before Shabbat, after all my cooking.

Also, SL, you say you only object to the idea that you can trade out tuna for cleaning when many families can't, but that seems to be only one objection in your post. For people who haven't budgeted properly, than that's a mistake in budgeting.

But you seem to be arguing against the very idea of cleaning help, even if you can afford it, when your posit that families with cleaning help bring up children who don't know how to to clean. You also objected to the idea that chinuch and cleaning are "not mutually exclusive" (that was the title of your post).

For working women, yes, actually, they are. Again, if the choice is between cleaning toilets and helping your son do chazara for homework, sorry, those things are mutually exclusive. Also, kids after school do deserve a few hours of undivided attention, even older ones.

As I said above, it's a question of priorities. There are only so many hours in a day, there are only so many days and years in a childhood. Do you want your kids remembering your clean floors or your attention?

Tamiri said...

Anonymous said...
My cousin was staying with another cousin who had given birth to a sick preemie. She was helping with the older children, etc. When she was asked to clean the bathroom, she was embarrassed, at age 18, to say she didn't know how. And she wasn't a spoiled, pampered girl, but she'd never been taught to clean a bathroom.

March 23, 2009 4:02 PM

Well, maybe that one session I spent at Camp Moshava in 1973 paid off: they taught us how to clean the toilets. There was no cleaning help besides the girls in the bunk. Thanks Mom and Dad1!!

triLcat said...

toilets are easy. It's floors that have me stumped. I know how to do it in theory, but it never quite works.

Commenter Abbi said...

trilcat: I think the thing with floors is that I feel I have to clean everything else ie: get everything off the floor and then clean them. Since it's so overwhelming to clean everything and then floor, they never get done.

My MIL washes the floor nearly everyday. She said when the kids were small, it was nearly twice a day. I really don't know how she does it.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about household help. I waited until I was 40 to get a cleaning person and then it was only one afternoon every other week. After the price went up, we cancelled the service, although I do miss it.

I think its ok to have some household help if you truly can afford it -- aren't getting tuition reductions, are saving for retirement, etc. I appreciate that in homes where both parents work long hours, it may be a necessity. Of course, if someone has a disability or medical condition some help may also be a necessity.

Having said that, I also think that the family doing some of their own housework on a regular basis is important for several reasons. As discussed by other, teaching the life skills are important, but its also the attitude about hard work and self-sufficiency that comes with doing it yourself that is important. No one should think they are above cleaning a toilet or scrubbing a floor. There also can be something very satisfying and therapeutic about cleaning. There are immediate results that you often don't get in other areas, and it is good excercise. To those who say that cleaning time takes away from family time, if the kids are old enough to pitch in, it can be terrific family time, particularly if its approached with a good attitude. There are plenty of ways to make cleaning time fun, or if not fun, at least there is comraderie in tackling a task together.

Finally, it's important that kids see both parents sharing cleaning and other household tasks. Both boys and girls need to know how to handle household chores inside and outside the house.

Ariella said...

It always amazes me how those who are authorized to speak to the frum world misrepresent things in order to make them fit their agenda. Strictly halachically speaking, chinuch habanim is the father's obligation -- not the mother's. Also strictly halachically speaking, there are household tasks that were considered a wife's duty (based on the Mishna. If her husband could afford a maid, she gets off of some. The more help they could afford, the less she has to do as far as housework. Yet the warning is there not to make her free of all work because absolute batala leads to boredom and trouble.

Another halachic problem with maids is bishul akum for those who have them cook for the family and work done on Shabbos and yom tov. It is hard to resist the convenience of the Shabbos goy to have more done than is strictly permitted. And I know of incidents where the household "staff" has violated Shabbos and Yom Tov at the behest of the employer. One further thing, when people employ live-ins, they take far less responsibility for being with their children. It is housekeeper's job to take the children out to the park even on Shabbos.

But maids have become so much the norm that I know women who don't even work and have only one kid or 2 spaced widely apart who take cleaning help at least twice a week and treat themselves and the family to 3 meals a day from takeout. Prioritizing has nothing to do with such choices.

tdr said...

I work almost full-time. I no longer can afford cleaning help, but that's not the only reason I don't have any.

I remember feeling utter relief when I finally told my last cleaning help not to come back. I had a service of about 10 ladies who would come in for about 45 minutes to clean the house. But I had to have it straightened up by Monday morning! It made me so stressed out. I'd rather live with dirt. AND I still found clutter behind the doors that they didn't bother to sweep behind, etc.

I really did not like being an employer. I also found that it is untrue that cleaning is something anyone can do. It is a skill that must be learned. I bought a Speed Cleaning kid (www.speedcleaning.com) a few years ago and the instructional video that came with it is the only instruction I ever had on how to clean a bathroom! I recommend the speedcleaning website and book for cost-effective supplies as well as an FAQ. The Speed Cleaning book has been out forever -- it pre-dates the website by a couple of decades I think.

I've had cleaning ladies that came every week and after a relatively short period of time, you could tell they never cleaned the toilet. And how do you explain this in Spanish to someone when you don't speak any? I had a cleaning lady who was supposed to show up the morning of erev bedikas chometz as Tuesday was her day! I heard from a friend at the last minute that the CL was going to the latter's sister that day and I was STUCK. Another good reason not to rely on cleaning help. If you are counting on it and it doesn't show, you are really up the creek! It happened often to me.

I was never very good at picking up after myself and I seem to have inculcated this one value into my kids very reliably. AND with cleaning help, we took it to new heights. We are all better off without the help. It makes us more vigilant.

Now when we clean, I try and make it a family event. You should have seen my kids (8 and 9) go to town on the living room floor last night! They were so gung ho I only wish I'd had the energy to clean some other part of the house together. And I think their enthusiasm probably cannot last for another 2 weeks...

If I could pick any household help, I'd rather have 1) a cook since I love good food, but hate to cook it or 2) and personal valet to pick up my clothes from the floor every night and lay out new ones in the morning. Oh Jeeves, where are you when I need you!?

Ariella said...

One more thing that some comments have touched on: frum women really look down on their domestic help. Cleaning women are often referred to as "the Goya," with the implication that menial work is suitable only to those considered less than human. Obviously, with such an attitude, one would consider it a slight to her own self-esteem to do her own cleaning. That is not to say that it has to be a woman's duty. Certainly, if she works full time earning substantially more than the $10-$15 hour rate that cleaning women get, it could make sense for her to hire help. But there are women who are earning no more on an hourly rate or who earn nothing who still have an attitude of "I wouldn't do such work even if you paid me." I would imagine there are even people receiving food subsidies, not to mention huge scholarships, who still regard such hired help as essential because of this view.

Anonymous said...

It's odd how in some areas frummies are so beholden to tradition, but ignore it when it comes to manual labor. Our grandmothers or greatgrandmothers for those of you who are younger, never looked down on cleaning and hard work. They took pride in it. Do you really think the jews who lived in Europe or came to the u.s. in the first half of the 20th century thought they were too good to clean toilets or scrub floors?

My grandmother scrubbed her own house on hands and knees well into her 70's even though she had the money to hire help, she never would have dreamed of doing so as long as she was physically able.

As for the attitude toward gentile help, I am so embarassed.

Anonymous said...

Given all the irrelevant shidduch questions, perhaps some relevant ones should be added (for both boys and girls) like:
How many time have you cleaned a toilet? scrubbed a floor? vacuumed? Planned, shopped for and cooked a full meal? Do you know how to paint a room? Balance a checkbook? Do you know what an IRA is? People who answer no or never aren't ready to get married.

tdr said...

I have a friend whose husband declared that "He vacuums" and will not let her touch the vacuum cleaner. Apparently in his home, his mother assigned him this specialty and that is his thing. (He does do other things!) I wonder if he told her on the first date, or after they were married, or sometime in between?

trilcat: I just saw your comment about how you are baffled by cleaning floors. Here is what I do. I do not use a mop. I use towels. 1 biggish towel to slop water all over the floor. I smush it around with my feet -- my kids love doing this, too. Then I use one or two largeish towels to clean up the dirty water from the floor. This way I feel like I'm really getting the dirt up rather than just moving it around as I used to do with a mop. Sometimes I use a scrubby to go around the edge of the kitchen first with my hand to get up all the stuff that gets shoved into the corners.

Chaim B. said...

A quick Google search turned up this article (http://www.bircas.org/parshasheet/archive/Pinchas%202008.html)confirming what I had remembered hearing about the famous mussar yeshiva of Kelm --

Indeed, the Mashgiach [R' Yechezkel Levenstein] related that in Kelm, the Yeshiva’s administration voted to never hire any cleaning or maintenance staff, reasoning that it was integral to the students’ education to take responsibility for all those chores, and that by humbling themselves in order to perform them, they would drive home the importance of Torah to themselves.

tesyaa said...

Chaim B., I will say that since we started doing our own cleaning I feel a bit smug, and that's not necessarily appropriate. I would say do what you can afford, and if you can afford cleaning help and you like it why not use it. I would suggest that those with cleaning help take a close look at the supposed benefits. If you constantly find yourself getting irritated by spots the cleaning lady missed, or doing cleaning yourself often between weekly cleanings, maybe you don't need it as much as you think.

SephardiLady said...

Chaim B-Thank you for the link. Personally, I thinksome of our schools would do well to have the kids take responsibility for the surface cleaning of the classroom, to say nothing about taking care of belongings in the classroom.

Unfortunately, I have seen a Yeshiva school with as much graffiti as some inner city schools. In my day, in public school, if you were to deface property, you would not only end up scrubbing what you defaced, but everything else as well.

Scraps said...

My parents get a cleaning service once a week for about an hour each time. They seem to think it's worth it. Personally, I refuse to hire a cleaning lady to work in my apartment - I figured out how to clean the bathroom myself, without any trouble, thank you. It's not in my budget to get a cleaning lady. And I find the attitude of looking down on the cleaning help disgusting.

Miriam said...

I have cleaning help 3 days a week and can't wait to cut that back even more. (I have toddler triplets.) When we were looking for a new person last year we were introduced to the lady in town who "knows everyone" and she arranged a lady for us to try. I was given explicit instructions not to pay her more than $35 for a 9 hour work day (plus lunch) because "she doesn't have to make Shabbos. What is she going to spend it on, jeans?" (The lady we have now makes more than that.)

As for the need to teach and benefit of children caring for their environment I would point anyone towards Montessori education. My girls adore sweeping and mopping with our housekeeper and help me cook. My youngest even makes me coffee in the morning and all of them can make their own PB&J or peel eggs for salads. They are also responsible for setting their table for Shabbat dinner and helping me iron their tablecloth. (They will be 3 on Pesah, B"H.)

Anonymous said...

Miriam - $35 for a 9 hour work day is outrageously low. Was that a typo? If not, how do you sleep at night?

SephardiLady said...

I'm shocked a cleaning women would accept $35 for a 9 hour workday. that isn't even $3.90 an hour. Even more shocking is the comment that she doesn't have to make Shabbos. Well, perhaps not, but I'm sure she has dreams too.

Anyways, welcome.

Commenter Abbi said...

Anonymous, if you look in the parentheses, Miriam explicitly said "The lady we have now makes more than that." so I'm sure she sleeps fine, aside from being woken up by toddler triplets every now and then.

Miriam said...

No, not a typo. The lady we have makes more than I made when I worked and we pay her extra when she works extra hours or rearranges her schedule to fit in the chagim. I sleep fine.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I wish she would have accepted my help. I can't think of a much bigger chesed than helping an adult become more fully functional.

Over the years I've learned that some people really don't want to become more functional. I don't quite get it, maybe it has something to do with upbringing, or maybe its genetic. I know I learned a lot during our first year (well, 9-10 months) of marriage when we didn't have a washing machine and I did the laundry by hand in the bathtub, then wrung it out by hand, and hung it on the clothesline to dry (this was all in Israel).

Mark

Anonymous said...

Oh, in case anyone was wondering what I learned with the laundry, well, it was two things, one, that doing laundry by hand is quite a difficult task (hanging it is trivial, but washing and wringing it out is a great upper body workout), and two, and most important, that a washing machine is one of the greatest appliances ever invented :-)

Mark