See that face? What does that say to you? Yep, Lucy’s face pretty well sums up my feelings about housework. Meh. Blech. Sigh. I am not a domestic goddess. I hate to clean. But, you probably already know that if you read my blog regularly. I wrote about my lack of domestic skills back a few months ago. Okay, not so much lack of skills, as I said in that post, more like lack of motivation.
I tried role-playing. Maybe if I look like a fifties housewife, I’ll be better able to clean cheerfully? Ha. In the absence of anything that resembles fifties housewife attire, except capri leggings and a head scarf, this is my attempt to play the part. “Now, I just know one of these thingies is supposed to be for dusting.”
|Hey, the red stripe in my apron matches my vacuum cleaner. So, not a happy homemaker, but a colour coordinated one.
Okay, not funny. I’m not that useless. Truly. All joking aside, that post I wrote last winter was partly about the problem of the division of household chores in families, and the impact of that division on marriages and relationships
, and some interesting statistics
around the issue. And it was partly about me and my lack of desire to clean which is, ironically, inversely proportional to my desire for a clean house. Sigh. A conundrum right up there with being a control freak who has out of control hair.
Readers of that post
shared some great ideas. Riley’s comment introducing me to “Fly Lady” was very helpful. Riley said Fly Lady’s suggestion that we can do anything for for fifteen minutes changed her life. Even if, in that fifteen minutes, we don’t fully complete a task. Like cleaning the fridge. I hate, hate, hate that chore. Pulling everything out and stacking all the food, and bottles and jars on your counter. Dragging drawers out and washing them in the sink, slopping soap and water everywhere in the process. Wiping all the shelves down. Then when you pile everything back into your pristine fridge, your kitchen looks like a cyclone has hit it. Now, after Riley’s suggestion, I do it a shelf at a time. Yah. And… and… this is my own special newly invented trick. When a bin is empty I vacuum it out, then wipe it with a soapy cloth, then dry it. Presto. And… I’m on a roll here people… I thought if that works for fridge drawers, why not kitchen drawers? So when the cutlery drawer, for example, is mostly empty because the dishwasher is full, I take out what’s left, vacuum the drawer of all those little crumbs etc and wipe it out. Gad, I’m a genius. I’ve cleaned my fridge and my kitchen drawers, not all at once mind you, and I’ve hardly noticed.
Another one of Fly Lady’s suggestions is to “take your time and enjoy the process.” Okay, a fair enough idea. But I can “enjoy” only if I can take my mind off of housecleaning, which I will never enjoy… let me make that perfectly clear. This is my secret (or not so secret) cleaning weapon. I’ve been doing this for years. I figured if listening to books on my i-pod helped me to stay on my exercise bike, it might help me to do mundane, boring tasks like dusting, or vacuuming. Works a charm. This month I’m listening to the latest Rhys Bowen book in her Royal Spyness series. I love Kathryn Kellgren’s narration. And Bowen’s light-hearted stories are kind of Nancy Mitford meets Agatha Christie.
|Maybe not a happy homemaker… but happier, listening to books on my i-pod
And as for the suggestion to “take your time.” Like the fifteen minute thing, I can’t think why that didn’t dawn on me years ago. When I was still teaching I was always super organized about getting my marking done…not super fast, just organized. I would sit down and list all the class sets of tests, essays, projects etc that were coming in over a two or three week period, then draw up a schedule to get them all done. I’d plan to mark maybe 5 or 6 big essays every night after dinner, at fifteen minutes an essay that was about my maximum concentration time. Then if I was still feeling fresh I’d mark an extra one or two. I’d squeeze marking shorter assignments into spare moments during my day at work. That way I didn’t find the constantly towering pile of papers too daunting. I had a plan to get it all done. And I always apprised my students of how long it would be before their papers were returned. They knew not to ask if I had their essays marked the day after they submitted them. Ha. Because I could go home after work and mark for six hours. Ri-ight. But back to my point. That’s what I do with housework now. I don’t wait for a day to clean the whole house; I chunk it up. I might clean the bathroom on the day I do laundry. But after the bathroom is cleaned and the first load of laundry is in the washer I get out of the house. And Hubby and I go biking or for a walk. If the rest of the laundry doesn’t get done that day. I finish it the next. Then I don’t get exasperated, and resentful that I’m not doing something else I enjoy more than housework. Which would, of course, be most anything else.
This week Hubby is off in the wilds of Algonquin Park. And I’m home alone. Getting my domestic goddess on. I made a list of everything that needs to be done. Today I did stuff that I only do occasionally. I shampooed the sofa cushions, I pulled all the furniture out from the walls, in order to dust and vacuum behind and wash down the baseboards. Then I dusted book shelves with a damp cloth and in the back of the television and the stereo stands, where all the cables and stuff are. I did this only in the living room and sun room. Took me a good while. But I had “Her Royal Spyness” to keep me company.
So that’s enough for today. I’ll clean the bathroom, dust, and vacuum on another day. And I’ll save the moving the furniture kind of cleaning in the other rooms for next week. Or the one after. I’ve got my list, and if everything doesn’t get checked off right away, it will eventually. In the meantime, I can’t wait to start the new Julian Fellowes book which I’ve been saving for when Hubby is away. My treat for my week at home alone.
|After the cleaning comes the reading
I know, what you’re thinking… why doesn’t she just hire someone to clean her house? Well, Hubby and I did discuss hiring a house-cleaning service the other day. You see, he has finally capitulated and is hiring a lawn service for next spring and summer. Hubby hates mowing grass, and with the flower beds, and the large vegetable garden something had to give. So, feeling guilty that he was avoiding a job he hated and I was not, he suggested we get a cleaning lady again. I always had one when I worked full time.
“Nah,” I said, “let’s leave it for now.” It’s hard to explain, but sometimes a cleaning lady is more stress than I want. Every cleaning person that I’ve had in the past has been great for a time. Then they start not doing certain tasks that were agreed upon. And I have to leave notes to do, or redo, certain jobs. And they rarely clean like I would, or do things that you might expect someone to do in their own home. I mean who dusts and vacuums the living room and doesn’t plump up and replace the sofa cushions? Or not notice that Hubby has tracked mud from the garden down the basement stairs and maybe they should be vacuumed? I had one person who I discovered, thanks to a particularly convenient ray of sunshine, only dusted around the ornaments in the bedrooms. And here was I thinking how good she was in putting everything back the way I liked it. Ha. The stuff had never been moved. Sigh. And then I always have to have “the chat” with them. How I hate that. I spent thirty years in the classroom making kids do things they didn’t always want to do, and having conversations with parents when they didn’t always like what I had to tell them. I’m so done with that.
Sheesh, I sound whiny, don’t I? And like a demanding control freak. So… maybe it’s better if I just clean my house myself. For now, anyway. And the upside of Hubby’s not doing the lawn… is he might have more time to help.
Now. I have to go and start my fall wardrobe inventory. I’m pretty sure what I need to put on my list. New white shirt. A couple of tee shirts. And a coat, maybe tweed. Tomorrow I’m shopping. All day. And maybe having coffee with my friend Liz at Nordstrom. Then it’s home for dinner, a nice glass of pinot noir, and that Jane Eyre film that I ordered from the library.
Hubby may be away fishing with his buddies this week, but being home alone doesn’t mean I have to suffer. Now does it?
What about you my friends? Do you have a cleaning person? I know I already asked you this in that other post… but do you have any tips to make house cleaning more… if not enjoyable, than at least … palatable?