I often wonder how clean other people’s houses REALLY are. You see, I am an awful mix of complete neat freak and terminally lazy. I think people who often have WAY too much going on in their heads often have neat-freak tendencies. If I can “just sort this room out” then my brain will be all calm and my thoughts will be in order. Perhaps it’s a sign of an anxious person. “I got all these things to think through AND a stinky, messy pit to clean up…GAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Actually. That does sound like me.
And I like my house to be clean. REALLY clean and tidy at ALL times. But it isn’t. And it never has been. Even before I had kids. Even when I only had one cat or even when I lived abroad and had NO cats. It was never, ever shiny spick and span. Because as with everything in life, my expectations do not meet reality.
So then I wonder how clean other people’s houses are. Because I am secretly weirdly competitive about stupid things like this. Now, I am not talking about the super messy, life’s-too-short brigade where stuff is everywhere and no fucks are given. And just for the record, I have NO ill judgement of that either. I don’t care if you live in a pit. And I do envy your no fucks given attitude too. Because if I had that attitude, I’d either have been chasing the dragon, or have had my brain entirely re-wired. My MO is worry about everything at all times and that includes the state of my house. It’s not necessarily the best MO.
I am talking about the ones whose houses are relatively clean looking and tidy, as much as they ever can be with small kids involved. So usually one room, at least during waking hours, will resemble a jumble sale but that’s NORMAL. But how often do they really clean their kitchen floor, change their sheets, wash the towels, dust the shelves, hoover, scrub the bath? Do I do it enough? Sorry, I mean do WE do it enough? Is it weird to ask? Would you tell the truth? Is it normal to care? Is it a feminist issue?! OK that last question is a bit of a red herring.
The reason I got to thinking about this is two-fold. Firstly, I do have a cleaner who used to come fortnightly and now comes once a month. And the 5 minutes after she has left are the cleanest my house will ever be and it’s BLISS! But she’s MIA at the moment and I’m having a moral (if not, an excruciatingly middle class) dilemma: do I look for a temporary replacement or do I section off a big chunk of our weekend to get it done? And I am spoilt enough to REALLY not want to do this! I spend most nights bashing away on social media / writing / filming / editing / promoting and 4 days a week in work and the rest of the time parenting. I don’t want to clean. But I want a clean house! WHAAAAAAAAAAT!
Secondly, and this is apt, whilst we were all out ignoring house work last weekend, I stumbled upon the fantastic and seemingly anachronistic 70s book “Superwoman” by Shirley Conran. Its preface stating “Life’s too Short to Stuff a Mushroom”. I had actually picked it up to scoff at its outdatedness…. Who gives a monkeys about being a domestic goddess these days?! Pah! GET with the times, love! But then I actually started reading it and I was HOOKED! It’s ace! It’s witty, and funny and SO handy! A million tips on everything to do with running a house, from making your own washing liquids to weekly budgets and shopping tips. Having done a little background research I’ve discovered it was quite trailblazing publication. It was aimed at the emerging working woman who had little time to dedicate to cleaning her house.
Of course it IS vastly dated in that it suggests you never ask your husband for help, even if you ARE cutting corners a bit in your domestic duties! My reply to THAT is here. But some of the tips are fantastic! This is a good one:
Clean one room at a time because you can stop right there if time runs out or you get bored. Stop half an hour before you had planned, because then you won't be too exhausted to clean up properly.
So true! My normal cleaning mode is “OMG so and so is coming around in 10 minutes and I need to vacuum the whole house and clean the bog at LEAST.” By the time the person has arrived I’m a sweating heap and in need of a rest, and they have to make their own coffee!
But one big thing I took from the book was the LEVEL of cleaning that was expected, daily weekly and even annually. I mean, do you take down your curtains every spring and have them dry cleaned? Do you EVER hoover your sofa or mattress? (This is a weekly job apparently). Is part of your weekly routine to clean all the cupboards out and the fronts and dust all the high bits in the room and door frames?! How the bloody hell did women ever get anything done if this was a guide to skipping corners! How is taking down ALL YOUR CURTAINS skipping any corners?
My thing is, if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it! Cupboards need cleaning when something spills (including fronts); curtains need cleaning if some outside force has interfered….spillages / mould / cats; cobwebs get dusted at BEST when I can be bothered. I’d LOVE to have someone else do all of those things for me weekly but even I know that this is beyond reasonable.
But as I said before, I am weirdly competitive. I need to know if we’re normal or if we’re scumbags.
So. In 2016: How clean IS your house? What are your weekly routines? I need to see if our level of cleanliness meets acceptable standards. Comment, Facebook or Tweet me. I NEED TO KNOW, like NOW!!!!!