Friday, April 15, 2005

Housework Hell

I always do this to myself. Everytime I plan to be away from home for any length of time I do this. I bust my ass cleaning up the house from top to bottom. And why? Because my mother did, I guess. Why do we do half the stupid shit we do? I can understand my compulsion to clean house when the entire family is going to be gone because "it's nice to come to a clean house" (OMG, I AM turning into my mother!). But this time it's just me leaving. The kids and Mr. Chick are staying home. And yet here I am, frantically cleaning every room prior to my departure. I'm vacuuming, dusting, making beds, doing laundry, scrubbing shit, even washing the rugs that go in front of the doors, for pete's sake! - and I'm not even going to be here to enjoy the housecleaning afterglow (not that it lasts too long anyway with two kids in the house). What I suspect, deep down, is that I feel if I clean the house I sort of "earn" my weekend away. Is that just total bullshit or what??! But yet I still do it.

I have a small house. It's our student house. Our "downsized" house for the law school years. It's about 1340 square feet, but really, it's 1200. Mr. Chick has an office that was an addition to the house off the back and it's not part of rest of the house. In other words, I don't have to clean it. So MY part of the house is 1200. 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. A kitchen, living room, and dining area. A standard ranch layout. Essentially a big rectangular box. But it's cozy and comfortable and really nice for student living (we own the house, it's not a student rental). And oh yeah, let's not forget the 4th bonus room off the back. It's sort of a hobby room or studio. Or if you're a law student, an office. It holds all of Mr. Chicks' crap that I don't want in the rest of the house. I've come to appreciate living in a smaller space. Less to clean. I mean, when you can vacuum your whole house without having to change where you plug in your vacuum cleaner, you live in a small house. I can do that - one central plug and I can do the whole place. And with two kids, a dog, a cat, and a husband, I do a LOT of vacuuming. So yeah, there are benefits to living in a smaller place. But there are drawbacks, too. Like it takes 5.3 seconds to mess it all up again. Small space = clutter, and I HATE clutter. It's my daily mission to rid my space of clutter. I might win a battle here and there, but overall I fear I'm losing the war.

I have a routine I follow when I do housework. I'm sure we all do. I'm curious to know how other people do housework. I often wonder if I do it the hard way or create more work for myself. If there isn't a better flow. This is how it goes for me: I always start in the kitchen. It's the heart of the house and it seems our lives revolve around the kitchen. So I MUST have a clean kitchen. (sidenote: Mr. Chick and I have an ongoing debate about what it means to do the dishes. For him, it means taking the dirty dishes from the table to the sink, rinse, and put them into the dishwasher. Clean pots & pans, or put them to soak. That's it. WTF?! Yes, that's a good start, but then you have to wipe down the table, wipe down the counters, put away any condiments or leftoevers, and then actually wash & DRY the pots & pans and PUT THEM AWAY! To him, what I just described is "cleaning the kitchen", not "doing the dishes". I say they're the same, at least in my book. I think this debate will rage between us for years to come.). After I clean the kitchen and get the table all squared away, I tackle the mountain of shit that has accumulated in the living room. All the crap the kids drag out and leave everywhere. Throw pillows on the floor, toys, Tupperware, shoes - always shoes, and misc. clothes. You name it and you could probably find it in my living room at some point during the day. The kids have a playroom yet seem to prefer scattering stuff all over vs. keeping it contained in the playroom. So I clean all that crap. Then I vacuum. I even vacuum the kitchen floor. I don't like to sweep, so I vacuum. It works quite well, I've found. Our house came with champagne-colored carpets, so everything shows. I do a LOT of spot-cleaning. This is the best cleaner I've found. Then I tidy up the playroom. You wouldn't think the kids were ever in there based on the amount of shit that ends up in the living room, but they usually start in the playroom. Lauren has a thing for pulling any and all books off the shelves, so it's a given that there will be a mountain of childrens books to be dealt with. I make the kids help me tidy the playroom - it's their stuff and they made the mess, after all, but their "help" is time consuming. Necessary, but slow. I make a sweep through the bathroom, removing any clothes that might still be on the floor from baths the night before, mop up any water puddles that have formed from Nicholas washing his hands (he likes to sometimes play in the sink and fill it with bubbles, etc. so it can get pretty swampy). By then it's time to feed the kids and start all over with the dishes. I swear, I must spend several hours a DAY standing in front of the sink!!

My bedroom is always the messiest room in the house. It gets downright gross in there. Mr. Chick and I are mutually slobby in the bedroom. We're so wiped out at the end of the day that our clothes just land where they will. Usually on the floor. Closet doors stay wide open, the bed is rarely made. It's embarrassing. I would be mortified if someone came over unannounced and saw what a sty my bedroom is on any given day. I keep the "public" parts of the house mostly tidy, but my bedroom is "private" and therefore I don't feel bad shutting the door. So it's the last room I clean up. *Maybe* once a week. And like I said, I rarely make the bed in the morning. But I ALWAYS make it at night as I get into it. What's up with that??! I MUST sleep under straight, balanced covers, but couldn't care less how it looks in the morning. I usually only make the bed during the day if it's a day I've done the laundry and re-made the bed with clean sheets. Except today. The bed is neatly made because I'm leaving. I'm sick, I tell you. N-U-T-S! I don't bother making Nicholas's bed because he still naps and that would mean making it twice a day. No thanks. When he's older I'm sure I'll insist on him making his bed before school each morning, just as I was made to do (maybe I'm still rebelling against that stupid rule?), but for now, it stays unmade and rumpled. Just like mine.

What do YOU do when it comes to housework? What is your routine? Do you have any shortcuts that you could share? Favorite cleaning products? Do you ever get worn down with the never-ending cycle of cleaning? I mean, I take my eye off the ball for even a few hours and it feels like the whole house has gone to shit. Seriously. That's how I feel today, because I'm cleaning like a mad-woman, and it just seems so pointless.

Comments:
We are SOOOOOOOOOO alike Mary Pat! Like you, I HAVE to have the house SPOTLESS before I leave. This also stems from my mom doing it. I think I remember hearing my mom say something like-- "Heaven forbid something bad happen to you while you were out. You would not want someone to come to your house to go through your belongings and see that you were a slob!" LOL Kind of like the "don't go out without clean underwear on." statement.

I run around frantically before we leave the house every single time. It drives my family nuts, but I can't help it.
I usually start in my bedroom. Like you, our masterbedroom is the worst. I do laundry daily- and fold it. I just never put it away so it piles up. ugh. Anyhow, before I can start cleaning my bed has to be made and the counters in my bathroom have to be wiped down and the toliet wiped off. Then I move on to the kitchen. We have stainless steel applicances that show every smudge so I wipe them off right away.Then on to the living room-family room etc. I would vacume every hour if I could. I hate seeing little flecks of fuzz and stuff. Our carpets are already trashed and it drives me NUTTY!!! I do use the same Carpet cleaner as you do though and LOVE it!!!!!!!!
Our windows always seem to have smudge marks on them and I am going to buy thoes windex wipes next time I am at the store.
Anyhow-- talking about this has put me into a cleaning mood now. Ha. I am going to read the rest of your entries and then get to cleaning. I am linking your blog on mine. Be sure to come check mine out and answer the questions I just posted today.( Saturday)
-Tanya
www.lifeasmommy.typepad.com
 
I start in the kitchen. And don't think you are the only one whose husband does not believe that the counters and table need to be wiped down. I have given up on that one. I feel if my kitchen and bathrooms are tidied up/cleaned then I've done a good job. I also never make my bed, and just close the door.
 
I think men are physically incapable of wiping off counters. It makes me nucking futs.

I love cleaning, but I'm really anal about it. Sometimes I have to remind myself to chill out, otherwise I end up screaming at Brent for making himself something to eat and messing up my clean kitchen. :)

I'm a big fan of the Clorox with Teflon bathroom cleaning stuff. I swear the sinks and tub stay cleaner longer with it.
 
Me too MP! All my blog getaway trips I made sure the house was clean and everything was ready before I left. Its amazing how much work needs to be done before mommy leaves the house for a few days.
Hope you have a wonderful time in SF and thank you for helping my friend when you get back!
Kelly
 
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