Parenting and the Co$t of ‘Saving Face’ – Is it Worth It?

By: Kathryn Wilking – Guest Blogger

DO the chores get left behind when you are working?

Do you love, or hate, the surprise when people pop over unannounced? I have a habit of forgoing housework while on a deadline; frequently, when all-is-at-its-worst, there will be a knock at the door.

You see, I’m a Decorator and Feng Shui Consultant, so there is a ‘bar’ I need to maintain: a stereo-type of my home perfectly decked out in style -all-the-time. And, it’s worse when a business contact comes into your home!

If I’m lucky, I’ll get some notice. Regardless, I run around like a b-itch on wheels at the last minutes, tidying up, hiding laundry and stuffing all the dirty pots into the oven.

~ I remember writing out a cheque to someone while our dog did a thorough ‘pre-wash’ on the dishes, sitting in the open dishwasher; most amusing to the salesperson, yet, very embarrassing for me.
~ Another time when I was in conversation with a client downstairs, my oldest son snuck in the back door with spray paint and a few car parts. Hmm…time to reinforce a few rules.

All of this leads to: ‘When do you ask for help? What is the real problem? How does anyone maintain standards in their own house when working, in order to save face?’

When my boys were younger, 12 and 16, they had assimilated into a regular chore routine mowing the lawn and take care of garbage. I figured they Working Parent and Household Chores kaare longcould help out a bit more.

I defined my specific pet-peeve: vacuuming. We had a big ranch house with two full floors of carpeting and stairs. Sometimes, it would take an hour for me to get through the house. If I could get someone to run the vacuum, I could tend to the fussy, decorating (reputation-saving) stuff and keep the house presentable. I compromised: It didn’t have to be perfect; the house could look like it was vacuumed by a six year old, which would be fine too.

Here was the offer: Okay kids! You are both looking for spending money so here it is! On top of your chores, if you wish to earn extra money and bonus points with me, the chore of vacuuming is up for grabs! I’m paying FIVE BUCKS for anyone to run the vacuum through the entire house. RIGHT NOW!

This incentive worked for about a year! All I had to do was drop a five-dollar bill on the counter when I wanted the place vacuumed.

Until…the older one got a ‘real job’.

~”Mom, I’m not vacuuming for five bucks. It takes an hour, not worth it.”

The younger one stepped up to the challenge, until one day, he too decided; “It’s not worth it.” Like the older son, he had looked at other options.


The next weekend we hosted a dinner party; cleaning, shopping, cooking and no one to vacuum. I dropped a TEN DOLLAR BILL on the counter and the kids came out of the woodwork.  The cost of saving face had just doubled.  But it was more than just inflation, as the boys were simply growing up.

Happiness, and a clean house, does come with a price; I didn’t realize just how much it would cost!

Seasons change, people change, and kids grow up. It is inevitable that our efforts to raise responsible citizens would lead to awareness; and the value of a dollar. Their time and effort was worth more money, and we parents need to respect their journey into adulthood.

This exact scenario happened about 15 years ago. The boys are now fully grown, and I’m so proud of them.  So, what was the actual cost of saving face back then?

– Actually, worth every penny!

Enjoy the journey,



Guest Blogger for


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.