Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Housework makes you ugly

If the above statement were true, I would be the most beautiful woman in the world. And I am not. Not even close. But I do keep hope alive by continuing to not do housework in the tremulous belief that someday I'll wake up, look in the mirror and see something very different than what I'm used to seeing, which could set the banshees howling.

Anyway, I am not a good housekeeper. I used to be; my husband can testify to that. Honestly, up to the time that we started homeschooling, our house looked a treat. I used to vaccuum the carpets every single day. I know! That was a little bit overkilly, wasn't it? I also used to do mad things like turn out everyone's dresser drawers and closets in a rotating order, making frequent trips to St. Vincent de Paul with bags of clean and neatly folded outgrown clothing.

But then we started homeschooling, and as my friend Jane put it, "When you work where you live and you live where you work, it's just about impossible to keep it all together."

True, too true.

If you've ever been to my house and it looked clean, or even reasonably tidy, it's because we knew you were coming and spent the hour before your arrival galloping through the house while I bellowed, "Wipe that off! Straighten that up! Hide that! Don't ask me where! Stick it in a drawer! Shove it into a closet! Under a bed! In the oven! Take it out to the van! Give it to the neighbors!"

To be honest, I hate being this way. Hate. It. I miss the days when I had time enough to meticulously dust the tops of every ceiling fan's blades and sandblast the bathroom fixtures weekly with a mixture of powdered diamonds and Clorox. When Carol, Lilly and I traveled down to Susie's last summer, every surface in her glorious house was so dust free and gleaming, every floor so shiny, every upper corner of every room so free from cobwebs -- I felt so peaceful and happy.

We aren't total pigs, though. We do the rudimentary sweepings and dustings and bathroom cleanings every week. The beds get made. The dishes always get done and the counters are clean. My husband is an absolute whiz at the laundry. But the clutter...the endless, horrific clutter. Books, junk mail, un-junk mail, papers, notebooks, magazines, scrapbooks and scrapbooking impedimenta, hair doo-dads. It drives me bonkers and I feel very handicapped by the two daughters of the house who are impervious to messes and could walk by a Pop-Tart wrapper lying crumpled on the floor a thousand times a day and never once give thought to picking it up and putting it in a wastebasket. I look at the same Pop-Tart wrapper and fume and silently refuse to pick it up myself, even though the sight of it makes me want to fall prostrate to the floor and drum my heels on the carpet.

A few years ago, I went to this site, FlyLady.com at the recommendation of a friend who has the same trouble I do with marshalling the troops -- assuming, of course, that one's family considers themselves one's allies and not the advancing enemy -- and getting the house into a well-ordered state. FlyLady's system works on the principal that if one does a little bit consistently each day, starting with having a shining clean empty kitchen sink before going to bed at night, the house will never be a hideous mess all at once. Doing fifteen to twenty minutes each day isn't hard, she says. Cut the clutter, shine the sink, swish out the sinks and the toilets every day and keep up with a few other small details and you will never live in CHAOS (which stands for Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome.)

Every fall, I start out with a freshly sharpened ambition to FlyLady my way through the school year. I speak persuasively to Meelyn and Aisling about how easy it will be to keep things tidy. They look at me with a speculative eye, wondering how long it will take before I'll crack. It usually happens somewhere around November. They wear me down by not following through with their part of the routine and before we know it, the clutter is back with us and I'm buying hair color in greater quantities than in the previous year and my husband is asking plaintive questions like, "Why has there been a sock draped over the arm of my chair for three days? Is this a science experiment?"

By spring, when it's time for deep cleaning, I am tired of the mess and I read FlyLady Marla Cilley's book, which is titled Sink Reflections and is linked here to Amazon.com. I hold a series of stern lectures with the girls about how if they continue to treat this house like a barn, they're going to be served hay for breakfast, lunch and dinner until they get a clue. And sometimes, I even call my brother, Pat, if I have a frightening mess on my hands, because he is the world's best Clean Sweeper (TLC needs to give him a show) and has proved himself in the past to be very good at throwing out my things. We get the house cleaned up for spring and we stick with FlyLady like glue until school ends.

Then we go to the pool and by the time we get home, I'm too tired to do fifteen minutes worth of housework, even though all I've done all afternoon is bask on a lounge chair and sedately paddle in the in the water like a happy manatee.

And now you can see why the whole cycle begins again in the fall. *sigh*

1 comment:

Kbg said...

Fly Lady??? I could BE FLY LADY! I first heard about Fly Lady when someone asked me if I was Fly Lady...LOL!

What is more important, schooling, and time with your kids or a clean house? Not the clean house. You have to be absolutely crazed (yes, I am, I know it) to do both...and I no longer do both as my boys are no longer homeschooling. I know...I will come and clean your house for you when the boys are at school! Or better yet, I CAN TEACH MATH! I love Math...M and A will so love me teaching them Math...LOL.