Thursday, 9 February 2012

Keeping House

Today has been a rare but lovely day all to myself. An empty day is a blissful thing, because it gives you time to think. Sometimes there are little things that you have in mind to sit and think out properly, but you don't get the time, so you carry on, and then think of something else, and you have all these half formed ideas fluttering about in your mind.

So today has been a welcome chance to give myself a bit of a mental spring clean. Much of my thoughts lately have been about home making and house keeping. I have really missed Brocante Home while Alison was updating the website, and spent some of the time reading old emails and printouts I have from the site. Last night though, I was talking with some friends, and a friend-of-a-friend, and the friend-of-a-friend expressed almost contempt for her husband, that he wants to come home to a tidy, clean house. She defended herself by saying she works, that he was comparing their home to someone elses who is in a completely different domestic situation to them..she didn't come out and say it, but the underlying words were 'it's not my job'.

Now I would never say that a woman's place has to be in the home or the housework has to be hers to do, I say each to her own, and whatever works for you. But traditionally it has been our role, and I would not be surprised to hear that in the majority of homes, the woman is the one who does the lions share of the domestic work. Now I am not making any judgement, except, is it such a bad thing for a husband, man, or anyone, right down to ourselves to want to come home to a clean and comfortable home that is well run?

And if you want to live in such a home, then you have to make up your mind to create such a home. If you get help, then that is great. But as a snippet of vintage housekeeping advice I read recently said, Women who find housekeeping tiresome and dragging is because they never half learn it and partially because they have made up their minds to hate it. Again, I would substitute 'anyone' rather than 'woman' at the beginning. The thing I am trying to say is that if you want to live in a clean, tidy, comfortable home, then the cleaning has to be done, over and over again. So you can hate it and grumble about it and resent it, or you can just decide to make the best of it you can, put on some cheerful music, treat yourself to a polka dot feather duster, and get it done so you can enjoy the fruits of your labours.

The important thing is to do it for you, no matter who you live with. If you do it for 'them' whoever 'them' is, you are going to end up feeling resentful. That isn't to say that you shouldn't accept any help you get, or ask for it. Lucy over at Attic 24 has posted about thinking of this work as blessing her home rather than as housework. Likewise, I dislike the word chores. Scrubbing a toilet is always going to be scrubbing a toilet, I guess, but a lot of what are classed as 'chores' can actually be fun in themselves as well as rewarding when they are done. I could iron shirts all day long, just for the hiss of the iron and the smell of it.

I probably sound terribly boring, but if you have to do something anyway, you may as well enjoy it as much as you can! Little domestic tasks I have enjoyed today include tidying out my under-the-sink cupboard, taking stock of my cleaning products and introducing a new storage system for our recycling. I have descaled the kettle, and am about to go and tidy out my afternoon tea cupboard. On my list for later is my bedside table and dressing table top.

I plan to sit with my pot of tea later, and rethink some of my daily and weekly housekeeping routines so I can make sure that everything gets done, and I have plenty of time left over for reading and knitting and crocheting and all the other things I love to do. Oh, and I need to try the batch of apple and raspberry muffins I made this afternoon, from the March edition of Easy Food magazine (not the BBC one, the Irish one).

Sitting and writing this post has been helpful to start getting my thoughts in order...I hope I haven't offended anyone with my thoughts. I have seen on other blogs some heated discussions about housework and gender roles! Its just that I know, by nature, I am a nurterer and a motherer, I work part time nearby and my husband works full time in London, so it makes sense for us for me to be the main domestic goddess...


Lynn said...

I think that your idea of housekeeping is wonderful x

Dinahsoar said...

Well said Mimi. If a home is to be a haven it must be comfortable. And those who live in it must contribute to that comfort, whether it be the wife, or husband, or both sharing the tasks. I never resent caring for my home because I figure if I were single I'd have to do it by myself anyway, so what difference does it make in the end? My husband has been good about doing his part and I appreciate that. We have always worked as a team and that is as it should be I think.

Hausfrau said...

I think you are so right! I believe men can and should learn how to care for a home, but in a relationship/family, if a woman has accepted her role as nurturer (which makes sense, biologically-speaking), she will naturally take on most of this herself.

Paige Turner said...

I do the lion's share of the housework in our little place, but that is because The Mr does the majority of the car repairs, house repairs, etc that I can't do. In this we switch off responsibilities so that we're each doing our fair share. That's not to say that either of us won't help the other when it's needed. I've climbed on, under and around the cars when needed.

Also, there is a cute thing that Apartment Therapy did, which was to look at cleaning your house 20min a day, every day, unstead of one big clean on the weekends. You should take a look:


PS- Sorry that was such a long comment!