Actually, my husband did ALL the hoovering ... ha!
Now, 14 years later, living in a different town with a different husband, I am Ms Antisocial, with the result that (yippee!) we hardly ever get people coming round to interrupt us from mooching round the house in horrendous leezurewear and leaving the washing up until the morning.
No-one will know if I couldn't be bothered to clean the kitchen floor, if the pile of ironing hasn't been put away yet, if the coffee table is covered with ... let me just take a look ... three arty dishes containing miscellaneous stuff, several pairs of glasses outside their cases, one open book, four closed ones, my iPad, handcream, and several pieces of equipment for keeping my hair out of my eyes.
What's your attitude towards all this? I don't think that housework has so much to do with the time available to do it in, as how important it is to us. I don't like living in a pigsty, so when a room gets to a certain standard of messiness I clear it up. I don't mind stuff all over the place, as long as there are some clear surfaces and it's not dirty. But I'll probably look at the top of the chest of drawers in the bedroom and think "hmm, must tidy that up" for about 5 days before I actually do it.
But I'm a WRIT-OR! I am far too creative to bog myself down with this mundanity! That was a joke, by the way. I used to have a friend whose house was much dirtier than mine - I stayed there for six months once, and used to find all sorts of horrors in the vegetable rack. She loved me staying there because she'd come home from keeping a class of thirty in control all afternoon, to find polished tables and clean ashtrays - well, I was working in a bar at the time, it was force of habit! She had this fridge magnet that said 'Dumb women have immaculate homes', which I found slightly moronic, as it implied that in order to have a tidy house you had to be a bit thick, or that all ditzy birds were houseproud - perhaps it was just worded badly! Although the 'I'm too creative' thing was a joke, I must say that writing always comes before hoovering. On the rare occasions we have people round, or to stay, I tend to think, oh good, at least it means I have to clean the house. My husband is the type of person who would happily keep not-clearing-up until the floors were covered with stuff and he actually had to climb over things, but I get to a point when I think, no, this is pissing me off!
My mother kept an immaculate house. And, oh fridge magnet writer, she wasn't dumb at all - she was an 'A' level French teacher, completed the Telegraph cryptic every day, and taught herself Italian in her seventies. She once described my house as 'charmingly Bohemian', which was her way of saying I lived in a pigsty - by her standards, I suppose I did (do)! I think that possibly I still feel guilty about not doing enough housework, though I'm getting there when it comes to shrugging it off, but those memories of her going ape-shit at me for not tidying my bedroom remain! Mum was much too bright to spend all her time on the upkeep of an inanimate object, but I think that was partly a generational thing. She did give me a very good piece of advice, once, and it's one upon which I even remember to act, now and then: the key to having a tidy house is never leaving the room empty handed. There's always something in the room that should be in another, isn't there? The newspaper that needs chucking out, the coffee mug on the shelf under my writing desk, the pile of underwear on the sofa that needs to find its way into the dressing table drawers.....
When it's all done, I love it. So why don't I keep it that way? It's because if I have half an hour before dinner, I won't think, ooh, just time to clean the bathroom - I'll go on Twitter or answer an email or .... start writing a blog post about why I can't much be bothered with housework.......
Oh Terry, the perennial dilemma isn't it? Do I do the housework, tidying up etc, or do I do what I really enjoy/is more lucrative/is more productive…after all, the house will only get dirty again…yes. Me? I am chronically untidy, but I do like things to be clean. I'm also a scatterbrain and can never remember where I've put stuff if it isn't where it's supposed to be…even on a boat the size of most people's broom cupboards, I still manage to lose things, so I adopt your mum's strategy…although I don't have many rooms to leave, but I try and always put things back where they came from…eventually :)ReplyDelete
Val, I feel we have a similar standard/outlook on all this, as I'd suspected we might!!! I've always rather liked the thought of having a very small space I had to make 'work' - would be lovely for me (a big chucker outer of stuff) and horrible for Him Indoors (a hoarder)! I really think I'm starting to find my natural level and stop feeling guilty now, though.... sort of...!!Delete
Aha, Terry, we are absolutely kindred spirits! I am a great chucker outer too. Always in trouble from Him indoors who doesn't use something for years, hence I chuck it out. Then Murphy comes along and ruins it by reminding Him to ask where x, y and z are! But yes, a small space does kind of FORCE you into some semblance of tidiness…and definitely not for hoarders :-))Delete
I'm no good at housework, even this morning I have had to wade through the debris my dogs have brought in just to get to my desk. I just don't see it, my mind is elsewhere and I'm usually moving at speed. I like your line that 'the key to a tidy house is to never leave a room empty handed' and I'm going to give this a go though I fear it will mean that I leave the kitchen each time clutching more food to take back to my desk!!ReplyDelete
Oh good, so nice when I read about other people like me!!!!!! I don't eat when I write, though - I drink coffee and diet coke, and chew nicotine chewing gum!ReplyDelete
Housework? There's always another day... Enjoyed your post, Terry.ReplyDelete
The housework has to fit in around everything else when I get an idea for a poem I write as long as it is done for when the grandchildren are here two days a week the rest of the time it can wait having had Agoraphobia for many years now I Can go out I do that is why I usually wizz round with vac at 9pm having learnt twitter facebook etc I am usually quite busy.ReplyDelete
Ha. I'm with you. And our mothers are twins, too. About five days ago, I saw dust on my dressing table surface. About time to dust...company next Sunday. So sometime this week:)ReplyDelete
Yes..... I so get that!Delete
It would be a dull indeed if housework were at the top of my list of priorities. Your mum's tip is a good one for keeping the house tidy without trying - wonder if ai can train my the rest of the family to do that? They always manage to walk past the things I leave at the bottom of the stairs to be taken up as they pass - and then complain that it's dangerous walking upstairs when things are left there! Great post, Terry!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Debbie! Hmmmm - the trouble with husbands and children is that they see 'training' as 'nagging', don't they!Delete
I used to be fanatical about housework, simply because my mother was obsessed with it and I grew up with the belief that it was vital to sweep and polish from dawn until dusk. She is eighty-six and still won't allow a speck of dust to settle.ReplyDelete
But as soon as I started writing, I stopped bothering with housework. Nowadays, I only tackle it when we start walking into cobwebs. The family like it much better. I didn't realise how much of a pain I was before, putting all their things away and constantly wiping and hoovering.
Writing is far more creative and makes me much more relaxed and happy. But my mother rarely visits these days - I can't please everyone!
It seems you've lost your 'mum guilt' too, then! Yes - my father is 84 and keeps the house as mum always did (she is alive but in a care home) - I do think it's partly a generational thing, though - and Dad went to boarding school and was in the army, so it was ingrained early!Delete
I do it, because BH has rhinitis, which is caused by allergy to dust mites. But it's not white glove clean. What amazes me is that my mother, who did not work, had a cleaner..... if I had a cleaner, I'd have to clean before she arrived. *shame*ReplyDelete
I used to have that, too, but it got worse when I did the housework; I used to do it with a surgical mask on, or I got into a hell of a state. Oh, I'm all for employing cleaners - I'd do it if I was allowed, but Him Indoors says he doesn't want strangers in the house! I agree, though - yes, I'd probably do that too, in case they told everyone what a slob I am.....Delete
I always know when I'm at a tough point in the writing process because I start cleaning. Sometimes it's a distraction, but other times it helps to have a physical act that mirrors what I'm trying to do in my brain... straightening up helps straighten things out.ReplyDelete
You sound like my friend, the one I said who I lived with for 6 months. When she was teaching, she used to find herself deciding she MUST polish the teaspoons before she started writing reports!! I do know what you mean, though - and the difference between physical and mental activity does you good, too, I think!Delete
Oh-hahaha... My daughter visiting tomorrow and I don't know where to start. Mostly my bedroom is a mess and I'm pretty grubby myself. And I was once a perfectionist! Go figure... but retirement and writing do pretty gruesome things to us, don't they? Or is it wonderful things? Well, better get off here and TRY to clean my bedroom... groan... Oops, one more thing to do before I leave. Remind you guys to help get my movie trailer to Hollywood Film Festival (my very first story to go to film...and I am Happy Dancing atop the clutter) :-) Please view and share my student-made trailer. http://youtu.be/XVOCrfJ9w1k Thanks, Terry, for this enlightening blog...and to all your friends who might view my trailer. Hugs - Betty DravisReplyDelete
Yep, retirement and writing - well, it works for me!Delete
Terry, I think we all think alike. What you have written is what I do! Every so often a friend drops round and I wish they didn't. I have guilty nightmares about the house and then have that luxury - a morning when I can actually do the housework. But if the time does not come up in the morning, it doesn't get done!ReplyDelete
I think many, many of us do, yes! I do know some people who are pretty damn houseproud all the time - for instance, I can go to my husband's sister's house any day of the week, just drop in, and it's all matching perfectly positioned cushions... I admire and even envy it, but not enough to do it...!!Delete
I just super-cleaned the house and made a pact with myself to try and keep it as close to this as possible for as long as I can...so watch my tweets in three days because I'm sure I'll be back to talking about #HangingWithMyDustBunniePeeps...Great post!ReplyDelete
To me it is all about striking a balance. When you think about it scientifically, housework is a task of diminishing returns. This is hard to explain, but take vacuuming for instance. Think of it on a scale of one to ten, where one is barely a bit of fluff or dust anywhere, and ten is a carpet as dirty as you would ever want it to get - you can't see the colour or the pattern. To keep it at one, you'd have to vacuum at least once per day. To keep it at, say, three, you might need to vacuum just once per week. To keep it at five, you could probably vacuum just once a month. The difference between eight and nine is probably the difference between vacuuming once every six months or once every year or more. This would be easy to see on a graph. The interesting bit is at the lower end of the graph. Few people would really notice the difference between a carpet at one and a carpet at three, yet the latter takes a SEVENTH the effort. This same law of diminishing returns applies to many things - washing the car, dusting, window cleaning. You just have to find the highest number you feel comfortable at and not beat yourself up about getting to the next lowest number. (I confess my windows are at about an eight on this scale - cleaned once a year.)ReplyDelete
Patrick, all I shall say to that is: Yes!Delete
I like the attitude and the logic, yes. But to only hoover once a month... your family must be naturally very, very clean and tidy...!
Life is too short and too full of more interesting things to do for me to worry about dusting and polishing.ReplyDelete
I think that about says it all, really.... needn't have written this post!Delete
I don't know what it is about vacuuming but I've sorted my head out more times than I can count while doing that. De-cluttering is also good for clearing the mind, I find. Cleaning is something I put off until I will go nuts if it isn't done but the results are always uplifting. Really should do it more often!ReplyDelete
Oh yes, I love a good de-clutter, too! And the results ARE worth it, yes.... ish!!!Delete
Could soooo relate to this Terry! Great post! You mentioned a pile of ironing though. Does that mean that you iron? I just throw it in the tumble dryer. It does a pretty good job..ReplyDelete
Aha - I actually like ironing, I do it once a week whilst watching telly. I don't have a tumble drier. But yes, I am one of those who irons pillow cases and tea towels. That's where my domestic goddess bit starts and ends, though! Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone!!!!Delete
I have friends who keep their houses so pristine. I half-suspect they live elsewhere and only use that home for when people visit.ReplyDelete
When it comes to housecleaning, I'm like you - and it sounds as if we were raised by the same mother. Oh, the guilt trips! To top it off, I can be really absent-minded when writing, so that even when I do the dishes, I might accidentally put the bread in the closet or something wacky because I'm actually still writing in my head as I clean, and only barely paying attention to what I'm doing. I once found my sunglasses in the freezer!
Ha ha! I do similar. Two hours ago I put in some washing and started changing the bedclothes - I only remembered it all about five minutes ago. I left the bed half done because I had an idea for a blog post, and just forgot about it.Delete
Re the people with the pristine houses, d'you know what really infuriates me? Those who say 'oh my house is such a mess', when it ISN'T....!
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