So Much Housework, So Little Interest…

12Jan10

It is not news to anyone who knows us that after 30 years of friendship and 13 years of marriage, I still have a wicked crush on my husband. I could go on and on about his many fine qualities: he’s honest, smart, funny, compassionate, a great cook, an artist, and he rocks a mean toolbelt. And cute to boot! But he hates it when I brag on him — he is also very modest — so I shall resist.

So as much as I have been blathering on about my deep and abiding love for Steve Perry, my husband knows quite well that I have no real interest in the guy except as a musician who has lived an interesting life.

Except…

Except that if Steve Perry were to sweep me off my feet, I know that I would land on a fluffy, pure white, extremely clean carpet. How do I know this? Because for sure Steve Perry has… a housekeeper! (Cue angelic choir!) Probably a bunch of them! And I am all a’quiver at the very idea of living in a house I do not have to clean.

I am, hands down, the worst housekeeper I have ever met. It’s not that I am impaired in any way, or so put-upon that I can’t find the time — this very minute I am writing this post about cleaning instead of actually cleaning, so that gives you an idea. You know, stuff happens, but I’m certainly not beyond finding the time to keep things at least sanitary.

No, let’s be honest here: the real reason my housework doesn’t get done is that I hate it and I don’t want to do it. Ever. And why do I hate it so much? Because it is time-consuming, unrewarding, and ultimately pointless.

You know the old saw, “a man may work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done”? (Not to say that I’m the only one doing it: we all pitch in and do our share, and if my children start to complain I threaten to recite “Housework” from Free To Be You And Me. Little Possum is usually happy for the diversion, Willow [the 10 year old; not her real name] either gives me a half-lidded “Mom, you are so annoying” glare, or runs away screaming.)

But it is very true that housework is never done; at the end of the day, no matter how much you’ve done, there is still more to do. And the second you’ve done something, someone comes along and messes it up.

So consider these two scenarios (these are possible only when I am unemployed… as I am now… anyone need a writer?):

1) I spend all damn day doing nothing but cleaning my house.

2) I spend half the morning writing a post about how much I hate housework, then do a little housework, then play with Possum, then take a nap.

And what are the outcomes of these two scenarios?  They are exactly the same, to wit: at the end of the day, there will still be more housework to do. Except in the first scenario I am bitter and resentful that the life of one so clearly talented and intelligent (and also very modest) should be frittered away on such mindnumbing trivialities. And in the second one I have gotten my creative ya-yas out, made some gestures toward Godliness, enjoyed the company of my girlie, and had a lovely nap as well.

At the end of my life, will I wish I had done more housework? Unless at some point DCS declares my house an unfit environment for my children, the answer is unequivocally hell NO!

On the other hand, the state of one’s house is a definite factor in others’ assessment of you; people tend to look askance at apple cores on the kitchen counters (Willow!) or dirty socks under the coffee table (My husband!) or heaps of laundry in the basement (uh… that would be me. I bet Steve Perry doesn’t do his own laundry. Hmmph.) And such assessments tend to affect the social lives of my children — I am either struck by CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) or parents coming to pick up their children decide never again to darken my dusty doorstep.

So, I have developed a bunch of what I call “Cleaning Hacks” that help me maintain the illusion that I am a responsible adult. I’ll be posting these from time to time, and here is the first one just to whet your appetite…

Cleaning Hack Number 1: Turn your disaster into a work in progress.

Imagine you’re home slung on the couch in your comfy disaster of a living room. You are re-reading Ken Kesey’s “Sometimes a Great Notion” and snacking on Monukka raisins. The dog starts barking and you look up to see your neighbor coming up the walk. You want to invite her in for tea and crumpets, only… you look around helplessly.

What will you do? What WILL you do?

Here’s what you’ll do — pretend you are in the middle of cleaning. Haul out your vacuum cleaner and stand it in the middle of the room. Grab some cleaning supplies from under the sink and set them down, preferably where they can be seen from the front door. Spray air freshener or, better, something like Windex into the air. If you have an apron, put it on. Pick up a couple of random objects that need to be put away, and go answer the door.

“Oh! Hi!” you say, “Come on in! Excuse the mess — I was just cleaning up.

Huh? HUH? What did I tell you? Your house looks exactly the same, but instead of lazing around you are cleaning up you decent, respectable person you!

Here endeth Cleaning Hack Number 1 — check back for more tips and tricks! (Mostly tricks.)

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9 Responses to “So Much Housework, So Little Interest…”

  1. 1 SVB

    Damn. That’s brilliant. I shall have to employ this trick!

  2. 2 GN

    Except….. if Steve Perry does not, in fact, exist, he will be unable to sweep you off your feet and transport you to an impeccable place with herds of cleaning people at your beck and call.

    • 3 Deborah Bancroft

      Oh.

      Damn.

      I snarked myself into a corner there, didn’t I?

  3. LOL – I love it! I just Sunday evening scrubbing the shower walls til my palms bled to remove hard water deposits and realized the futility of it all as I rinsed with the VERY SAME WATER THAT PUT THEM THERE!

    • 5 Deborah Bancroft

      Perfect! Perfect example! Here’s a handy tip: I have heard that this will not happen if you dry your shower walls with a towel after you shower.

      Unfortunately, this requires that you have an extra towel lying around for just this purpose. Which requires that you keep up with your laundry all the time. Which requires, as far as I can tell, that you make laundry your main hobby… or restrict your family to one outfit a week and use paper towels after the dogs’ baths. Personally, I draw the line at blotting dogs, so there goes that idea.

      That shower spray stuff works pretty well, though. That’s a topic for another cleaning hack, I think — why work when you can spend that time shopping for fancy cleaning products?

      • Yep. Neeeee-ver gonna happen! 🙂

        I must confess to blotting the cats though…

      • 7 Deborah Bancroft

        Oh, well now, CAT Blotting is different. Did you know that Cat Blotting is Qatar’s national pastime? Whiz-bang Cat Blotters, those Qataris!

  4. ROTFL. OMG – Qatari Cat Blotters?! I think I just peed a little.


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