4.14.2010

Housework: Will the misery ever end?

A few days ago I posted about my mixed feelings on spring cleaning...love the result, hate the work.  One of my readers...( and can I just say how excited I am to be able to use that phrase?   As a child, I always wanted to be a writer when I grew up...of course I was planning on the writing career leading to bestsellers, untold wealth, and movie deals...the writing career was also somehow related to also being a famous detective (influence of the Hardy Boys)  and an archeologist (thank you, Indiana Jones).  How this was going to happen was a little unclear.)...sorry for the digression...anyway, one of my readers, Marlo commented, "Let us know if you manage to fall in love with cleaning and exactly how you did it because I dread cleaning."

Well, I'm certainly not in love with it right now.  In fact,  I still usually hate and resent it, but I'm tryng to change that. I can't get away from the fact that it's a necssary evil (emphasis on the evil).  Since it's something I'm going to have to do no matter what, I really am trying to find ways to make it more pleasant.

I'm taking a couple of approaches.  One is an action based, one attitude.  For example, I'm embracing the idea of "clean enough."  It's not an original idea, but it's useful.  I've tried to determine what is the minimum I can do and still be okay if others saw my home.  For me, it's a cleanish kitchen--clean countertops, sinks, and no dirty dishes (ignore the floor), cleanish bathroom (clean toilet, counter, sink..again ignore floor and wet towels as long they are hung up), decluttered livingroom, and making my bed.  The vaccuming, dusting, laundry are things I try to stay on top of, but as long as the rest is done, I'm okay with it.  Another thing I'm working on is beating the clutter itself, with purging and organization, as well as with returning items to their proper place, which has always been my weakness.  I was that kid with a trail of discarded possessions that started in the car, went through the front door, meandered through the kitchen, and ended in a pile on my bedroom floor. I come to realize that my cleaning issues are the resulting Karma for the Hell I put my neat freak mother through.  Now that I've picked up after someone else, I understand why she used to get so mad at me.

As for as attitude, I've been greatly influenced by Gretchen Rubin, who has a book and a blog, both titled The Happiness Project.  I've really enjoyed both, which chronicle her year long search of ways to increase her  happiness.  Based on my readings, one important thing I've been trying to do is not feel resentful of having to clean.  It's hard...I sometimes feel like I'm the only adult in the house who knows the magic combination necessary to open the dishwasher.  But the deal is, I'm really cleaning for me.  Thomas thinks I do a great job keeping house, and he would think I did a great job even if it looked like Grey Gardens.  As long as the health department isn't knocking on the door with official documents, he's good.  It's me who cares if the furniture is polished and the slipcovers are laundered and if the houseplants are watered, etc.  Therefore, if I'm the one who cares the most, and a clean house makes me the happiest, and I can't afford to hire someone else to do it, it's in my own best interest to learn to do it with a smile.

It's especially important for me to accept that (a) housework is a part of life and (b) i do for myself, because Gretchen describes one trait we share that can make me very unhappy....I want to be praised for my doing the housework.  And it does happen.  Just not as often as I want it to.  But it's not going to, because, if I'm honest, I want it to happen after I rinse every dish and place it in the dishwasher. after every load of laundry, etc.  Ironically, I usually don't praise Thomas for doing housework, because I'm mulishly thinking, "It's about time" instead of being appreciative of his help.

So, in short, do I like housework yet?  No.  But, I never thought I'd ever say this,  I hope that one day I will.

3 comments:

carla fox said...

Amen!

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

I am OCD about a clean floor. Everything else can be dusty but I cannot stand pawprints on my floor. The lesson here is choose your battles - do only what it takes to make you happy

Marlo said...

I like the Clean Enough strategy and Thomas has it right; as long as the Health Dept doesn’t show up, it’s clean enough.

I used to be a neat freak but after years of washing floors & baseboards on a weekly basis, whether they were dusty or not, I just can’t do the super cleaning anymore. If you walked into my home you’d think it’s very clean but I know where the dirt is hiding and even though I don’t do deep cleaning every week, it still bothers me knowing that there’s some dust here and there.

You’re very insightful to realize that you are cleaning for you and that it’s you that cares the most; that attitude just might work! :)