I’m lousy at housekeeping. It’s a fact that I’m not ashamed to admit, and which has been pointed out to me. A former friend—note the use of the word “former”—once said to me upon stepping into my bathroom, “I would have thought that you would spend more time cleaning, since you’re home all day.” Ooooh. Don’t get me wrong—I think that I’m a perfectly fine wife and mother, and I’m told that I’m quite a good cook. But the cleaning part, well, I’m not always on board with that. I do clean the house and tidy up—sometimes. But the lazy part of me doesn’t understand the necessity of doing it regularly, and making sure that every surface is dust-free and spotless, unless it truly needs to be, or guests are coming over.
I think that part of my reluctance to do housework has to do with having had to do more than my fair share of it while I was still under my parents’ roof, and having had to do it perfectly. Back then, I would get into trouble if I didn’t sweep up every speck on the floor, even if I had to chase that dustpan with my broom, around and around in a circle. (Ironically, that’s the one thing that I love doing now: I have to start off every morning by sweeping the floor. Psychoanalyse me however you want.) So now in my adult life, in my own home, I resist housework most of the time. Aside from sweeping (and by extension, running the vacuum cleaner over the floor), everything else I can go long periods without: dusting, scrubbing, folding laundry, ironing . . . . I mean, if you came into my house, you’d know that we don’t live in a pigsty, and I do insist on tidying up “every once in a while”. Still, don’t bother running over everything with a white glove, or you’ll be mightily let down.
Now, this year for some reason, I’ve been hit by the spring-cleaning bug. I don’t know why exactly, although it may have something to do with our newly-renovated kitchen, which I feel should be kept in a state of near-perfection. All of a sudden, I feel the need to clean things more frequently, fold laundry more often (instead of instructing the kids, “See how I separated everybody’s clean clothes into four neat piles? Great. Now just pick an outfit from your own pile”), iron the clean clothes, and generally put everything in order. I just spent several days organising our pantry and labelling every container of dry goods and every spice jar. In addition, Beloved Husband and I recently organised our walk-in closet so that it’s more efficient. All of a sudden, I feel like I am entitled to read Good Housekeeping.
However, in the past few days, something else has propelled me to want to clean even more: our Girl’s allergies. Found at the age of six to be allergic to a variety of things (dust, pollen, cat dander, feathers . . .) she often suffers from congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose. So we decided that we needed to really give her bedroom a good cleaning. We (okay, okay, it was the BH, I admit it) spent probably about two hours vacuuming every surface in her room and uninstalling her dust-catching window blinds. But I did do about eight loads of laundry in the space of 24 hours. We tossed about two dozen penguins from “The National Penguin Museum” into the washer. We’re even considering removing everything from that room except for her bed.
So why have I mentioned all of this? Not just because I now see that spring cleaning is a wonderfully satisfying way of tidying up your house and your life (which it is). But it’s because I’ve uncovered a truth: the love for your kids will eventually trump your own laziness.