dull women have immaculate houses?

Okay. After today, I will never talk about housework, cobwebs, mildew, laundry, EVER AGAIN! Why? Because it is BORING! Okay? Okay. Doing it, thinking about it, looking at it, is just BOOORING.

But. I grew up in a very nice house. I was expected to be tidy. I like a pretty, clutter-free house! I like things like matching throw-cushions. Unfortunately, I haven't seen a matching throw-cushion in years. It is probably under a heap of laundry, somewhere.

I feel good when my house looks nice, but cleaning doesn't make me feel good. (till after!) I mean, there is so much ELSE that a girl could be doing! I could save the planet, paint the greatest watercolour ever, learn to read sanskrit teach my son to play the flute and write calligraphy and here I am IRONING??

When the boys were little, obviously it was pointless to even think about cleaning. If we had hot meals and clean clothes, I figured I was ahead of the pack. But now, my youngest is 6. I really have no excuse for the clutter and mess that we live in. Oh, yes, there is the tired old "three boys, working mother, old dusty wooden house!" but I feel I can do better.

I have a defiant fridge magnet that says "Dull Women Have Immaculate Houses". I don't really believe this. I know many lovely people who have lovely homes, but mostly they have a maid. So part one of my "house beautiful" obsession is to convince the wonderful Delises to come and clean and iron occasionally for me. I have had partial success in this.

Delises used to babysit the boys before they started going to school. She had a school-age boy of her own, and is an energetic, intelligent and trustworthy person. She used to tidy up while the boys napped. We loved her so much, and I lent her many self-help and small-business books, and told her that she was worth so much more.

Alas! Delises bought a mini-bus, and operates a school drop service in the area now. She also bought a sow, built pens, and raises pigs for sale. She now owns a washing mashine, a cell phone and has recently bought a computer for her kids, as she now has another boy and a girl! So obviously, Delises is a little busy. She really doesn't have time to come more than one or two mornings a week, if that. But if I call her up on her new cell phone, and beg and plead, she makes an effort to come.

"Delises! Hi! How are you?"

"heh heh, okay, busy, ya know, these chirren!"

"that mother pig had her young ones yet?"

"well, yes, yuh know, and she roll over on two ah dem."

"oh man. But the others okay?"

"well, we go see, God willing!"

"so you think you might be able to come by me and iron this week? De pile only falling over."

"I know! Heh, heh, we-e-ell, let me think. This van have to go to the mechanic. And Anil has lessons every day."

"I will leave your money stuck behind the mirror."

"eh heh. Well maybe Tuesday, God willing. I should take some more books for my kids. I will bring back the others."

"oh yes! I will put some new ones on the kitchen table for you to look at."

"allright, we will see how it goes."

"thanks Delises! What would I do without you?!"

"heh, heh! Don't mind, I will come. God willing."

So this is a positive step. Sometimes, weeks go by and there is no Delises, and I despair. But recently, she has been around. At the same time, I am trying to develop "housekeeping discipline". This means cleaning up every night, even when I am exhausted. And spending the weekend catching up on cleaning...

The weekend thing is not working. By Sunday afternoon, I feel resentful that I have WASTED a weekend in the worst possible way. So I need a new plan.

I am trying to deal with this logically. I have much more than the normal amount of housework, because the house is open to the elements, wooden, and overhung with an samaan tree. This tree rains moisture and mildew down on the house all day and all night. Bugs come in to the lights. Dust coats everything, in an amazingly short time. We have too many books. We spend too much time on the road. I work. I need to work, because full-time housewifeyness would surely kill me. I cannot leave the dust too long, or scorpions and other little friends will move in. (I was stung by a scorpion once, it was hiding in the laundry basket!)

So I send out my resolution to you all: to keep trying, but not to kill myself. Any advice, o wise women of the internet, would be very welcome.


Anonymous said…
How about good old child labour? They're old enough... if they were living in India, Chas would have a full resume of work experience by now! Wha u think?
Vacuuming = 3 dollars per floor
Mopping= 5 per floor
Dishes = 10 per sink load
Dusting = 5 per room
Laundry (from start with dirty to neatly folded and packed away) = 10 per basket
Ironing (may require additional training) = 15 per load as this is a highly specialized skill.

You can replace the money with other motivational things if money doesn't motivate.... like maybe points towards computer time or something.

Does this make sense? Or are you silently cringing for my unborn??
Nan Sheppard said…
Excuse me? I am not paying! I do expect them to help though- they clean and vacuum the car, clean the toilet and bathroom, keep their own rooms in order, and vacuum the house. But they do have plenty of homework now, so I don't make them work every day! Usually on a Saturday, after breakfast, I say, "right, guys! Family conference!" and Chas immediately says "BATHROOM!" because that's his favorite job. Sam HATES to wash dishes, which is fine by me. Max loves doing dishes. Sam weilds the vacuum cleaner like a ghostbuster, shouting "DIE SPIDER, DIE!" we put music on loud, and it usually works really well. Snacks all around after!

But I can't do this every day, and for the rest of the week I am yelling "PICK UP YOUR CLOTHES!!" and the laundry and ironing, I will do myself for now. Pink clothes and burn holes? No thanks!
Anonymous said…
You asked for advice and you shall have it. I consider myself an expert
organizer and love nothing more than tackling a messy closet and putting it
right. My sweaters and clothes are all hung and folded with like colors,
long sleeves separate from short sleeves. You get the idea.

Rule #1: Stop buying clothes that need ironing!

Rule #2: Each day, take one closet or cupboard or drawer and stand in front
of it with a trash can. I'll bet there are 10 things you can throw away.
Before you know it, they're all clutter-free. Have the boys go through
their clothes and toys and books and fill up a big box to donate to someone
who needs them more than you.

Rule #3: Don't start a load a laundry unless you have every intention of
seeing it to completion: folded and put away. I love how Kevin will say "I
did the laundry." and yet it is still sitting it the basket - that's not
done! Your boys are certainly capable of putting away their own. I put it
on their beds so they can't go to sleep until it's put away.

Let me know if that helps!
Nan Sheppard said…
Ah! Thanx! Will definitely do the laundry thing. Clothes lying around waiting to be folded? GUILTY!
Anonymous said…
I say to hell with cleaning.... if i ever win the lotto every week i will give away all my dirty laundry and go buy new stuff... of course come to think of it that will be something else i will have to do. oh well techanically its shopping i like that.... As for cleaning i think we should implement a mans day for cleaning ....yeah like one night a week otherwise no nooky.....ha i'm heading to divorce.
Nan Sheppard said…
Brilliant! You win a prize! If I win, we'll go shopping together!