Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How Clean is my House?

Going to dinner with friends on Saturday night, who probably have the tidiest and cleanest house in the known universe (they are the only people I know who seem to live completely clutter-free), had the effect of making me look at my own, less then perfect abode through mud-tinted spectacles.

My house varies from being vaguely tidy to a total pit. It is very rare that I manage to clean properly anywhere - apart from the bathrooms about which I am fastidious. Sadly my spouse isn't. So I have spent most of my married life cleaning the bath after he has been in it, because apparently the effort of running a shower round a bath after it has emptied is too much to manage in the morning. As he is big on ergonomics, I have tried to explain that if everyone who uses the bath cleans as they go, when I come to clean it properly it isn't such hard work. But I explain in vain. Apparently two minutes to clean the bath in the morning will definitely result in being late for work, and I wouldn't want to be responsible for that. I did once try to leave our bath and use the kids' one instead, in the vain hope that he would get fed up of the dirt and take some action. But do you know what? He didn't even notice. And I, sad git that I am ended up cleaning it because I couldn't stand it any longer.

To be fair to him, while cleanliness might not be his thing, he is much tidier then I am, and does a fairly decent job of tidying up after the sprogs. Which of course is the main problem with my vision of having a clean abode. Our friends have one child, aged nine, who like her father is dementedly tidy. We have four. And not one of them possesses the tidy gene.
However, in an insane fit of Keeping up with the Jones', I decided that I would have a go at spring cleaning (yes, I do realise it is the wrong time of year, but as I didn't actually do any such activities in the spring, I have some catching up to do).

I started in the kids' bathroom, where, not content with a good scrub of the bath, sink and loo, I also cleaned windows and wiped surfaces. By the time I had finished, it was sparkling - and here I have to make a BIG confession, I actually get quite a buzz out of cleaning. It makes me feel better about the world, but like a chocolate fix it is - oh so temporary. Particularly in this house...

On a roll now, I decided to tackle no 4's bedroom. This was a brave move, as no 4 has spent the last few months showing her creativity by liberally decorating her walls with crayon. It took me about half an hour to pick away at the red crayon on the front of the door, and another half an hour to tackle the back. I then emptied both her toy boxes, removed all the detritus from under the bed, and cleaned the skirting boards. It took me ages, but eventually, toys were vaguely replacd where they should go (it frustrates my anal inner soul not to put everything in its proper place, but hell, I only have one life, and the little buggers will have messed up my good work before I can blink, so there really is No Point).

After that I started on nos 2&3 - who share a bedroom. I have to say I entered it with a fair amount of trepidation. It has been my aim all term to get in there and Do It Properly, but helas, I keep running out of time, so just shove toys back willynilly in the toybox, throw books back on shelves, and whizz the hoover around a bit. I haven't looked under their bunk bed for months... This is a very bad move as it happens, because under the bunk bed is obviously the only place to drop clothes, books, feet from your Bratz dolls, old stickers, torn up bits of paper, and the odd biscuit (from the rare occasion months ago when I ill advisedly let them eat something in bed). It reminds me of a title of a book I once edited, It Came From Beneath the Sink... and yes it's very very nasty...

At the point at which I was beginning to lose heart with this project, Spouse reminded me that it was time the sprogs were fed. And thereafter house cleaning duties had to be put to one side, as I was taking the little ones to the school Christmas Fair, while he was taking the big ones to Harry Potter (I got the long straw, evidently...)

So I took a well earned break from my activities, and instead endured the horror that is the Christmas Fair. Given this is my sixth year in attendance, to say I am somewhat jaded is to put it mildly. At least it is easier now then in the days when I had small babies, plus after many years of having MUG printed on my face I have finally mastered the art of saying NO. So though I had offered to help on a stall, it was only the one stint(last year having two at the school meant I spent some time as an elf at Santa's Grotto plus a stretch selling some old tat on another stall). Sprogs came with me and managed to fleece me of nearly all the money I had bought as our class had the pocket money stall, full of nice bright shiny things... And you have to do something to do distract the little darlings...

Duty done, we had a quick visit to Father Christmas, a rather slower visit to the face painting table, and then I was able to escape back home, to the joys of cooking the Sunday roast, followed by a revival of my cleaning campaign.

"Mummy, that was fabulous," said no 3 clutching her favourite new treasure, a ghastly make-up collection (I am sooo going to regret that). Oh to be five and so easily pleased....

Once the dinner was on, I left the sprogs watching Annie, and returned to face the horrors that were lurking under the bed. Spouse came in half an hour later and stood thunderstruck in the doorway, "It's worse then ever," he said. Er - yes. But part of the joy of clearing up is going through that painful middle bit when everything is out, before you can attempt to put it away again. Like Macbeth, I was in so deep, it was going to take some doing to get myself out...

Spouse meanwhile manfully went to take charge of the dinner. He even made Yorkshire pudding (and to add insult to injury on this, his virgin attempt, the buggers actually rose. It's taken me years to get beyond biscuits...)

Eventually the deed was done. No 2 &3 also had a pristine bedroom. But I had yet to tackle no1's room, our bedroom, the spare room and our bathroom. And as for downstairs, well don't even go there (I stand an outside chance of getting there before the next millenium).

As a result of my activities, we had dinner an hour later then planned, the kids therefore went to bed too late, and I had ignored all the washing, although Spouse had not. Now here I should state that I am totally grateful to have a man who knows how to work a washing machine, and now he's got the idea of separating whites from coloureds, he is also quite helpful. However, he still hasn't mastered the notion that folding things as they come out of the dryer, saves time later and cuts down on the ironing - why is it that ergonomics don't apply to housework? Anyway, net result is that there is not one, but three baskets overflowing with clean washing, none of it folded, and none of it put away. By bedtime I am so hacked off with housework, I really can't face it, so leave it for the next day, which turns out to be a big mistake, as somewhere hidden deep in the piles lie all the children's uniforms...

The next day I am out, so have no time to finish whatI have so foolishly started. On Tuesday and Wednesday I am busy playing catch up on my freelance work. Tomorrow I have to start the Christmas shopping. By the time I get to tackling the rest of the house, the rooms I've already started will need doing again.

How clean is my house?

Not very...

Author's note
I started this blog, partly as a result of some very generous and supportive friends on an egroup I am on. Sadly, I heard this week, that one of them, Pam Cleaver had died suddenly. Although I never met her, she was kind, considerate and funny. And like most of us in the group, not that big a fan of housework. I would like to dedicate this column to her memory. She will be much missed.

1 comment:

Jan Jones said...

Pam would have loved it!