Week 14: How to Clean a Home

June 23, 2020

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I just want to preface this slide show with the sad, but in retrospect unavoidable, result: this did not succeed.

A few weeks ago, I spent half a day of my weekend — those precious 48 hours when I try to stay as far away from my computer as work and household bill paying will allow — working on a PowerPoint for my family about how to clean the house. It wasn’t my idea, mind you, to create a PowerPoint in the first place. I didn’t even know how. But Liam, our oldest, has been having Zoom PowerPoint parties with friends, wherein they make up slides about silly subjects and present them to each other. He’d been trying to get our family to have our own PP evening, and for two weekends in a row, I’d avoided participating.

Meanwhile, Liam entertained us with a presentation on who should play different members of our family in a biopic of Liam’s own life (we do live in L.A., after all). Eli compared jazz greats to different characters in the Avengers. Sarah took us through a tour of Harry Styles’ hair dos. And Bill analyzed three different bike brands, only to discover, to his shock and dismay, that they were all manufactured by the same company (it was a lot funnier in person than it sounds, written out like this).

Finally, it was my turn. As usual, I was stewing about the state of our housekeeper-less house, and the ease with with my offspring lounged about the furniture while I scrubbed toilets and their dad mopped floors. So I created a PowerPoint that I hoped would begin to solve my problem. The good news? The kids loved it. “It was so informative!” Sarah said. “Now I know all about which cleansers to use.” The bad news? I just had to point out to Liam that he may think he cleaned his bathroom, but there’s still work to do when I can see and feel the grime on the faucet. Ah well…

Anyway. On a day when I have a ton of work to do, not a lot of brain space left beyond it, and a house I wish was cleaner, I present to you:

Day 34: Housework

April 30, 2020

It’s that time of the week, closing in on Saturday, when I’m going to feel compelled to turn to my family and bring up the dreaded topic of …. housecleaning.

As much as certain members might prefer it, I cannot cheerily allow this abode to disintegrate under a film of grime. I’m also not willing to call my housekeepers back into action, for their health as well as ours.

So. How to divide up the duties?

Obviously, I come into this at a great disadvantage because we’re all spoiled. For years we’ve paid people to mop our floors and wipe down our counters. There were about seven months there, during the Great Recession, when we did it ourselves, and I’m still recovering from the trauma of strong-arming my three children into helping me clean the bathrooms.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Now here I find myself again, much to my surprise. You really can never predict what life will have in store for you.

Granted, it’s much easier this time. I’m not running childcare as I’m sweeping. I’m not trying to make a game out of Windex and a mirror. And to a certain extent, I don’t mind the work. Unlike in 2010, when I had an 11-year-old, a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old, I’m not always on my feet. I now spend long stretches every day at my computer. I love that — but everything has its limits.

So Friday night, when I’m setting the dining room table for Shabbat dinner (we eat at the kitchen table the rest of the week), I clear away my office chair and my keyboard and mouse and laptop on a stand and the books underneath the laptop to prop the screen up to eye-level and the slanted footstool on the floor to promote good posture and all the cords that come with the apparatus — all of it moves to the side. That’s where it stays until Sunday morning.

In the Jewish tradition, the sabbath lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and during that time you’re not supposed to work. We almost always have a family dinner on Friday night, but that’s where our observance usually stops. However, these days — these long, faceless, blending-all-together quarantine days — I’ve felt a need to delineate. Work for me is sitting. So on Shabbat, instead, I move, a spray bottle in one hand, a rag in the other.

The only part that’s unpleasant is when I walk by my family members lounging, screen in hand, a smile on their lips, not even aware the hausfrau is passing by.

In case you were wondering — you probably were — my husband does his part on the cleaning front. But there are five of us living in this house, and watching others not participate burns a small, hot fire in the center of my chest.

I’ve gotten an offer this week from the trombone player, newly liberated from schoolwork, to do 30 minutes of housework every day. I just need to come up with a project and ask, and he will get it done on his schedule. That’s 3 1/2 hours a week, if he’s really game for it — nothing to sneeze at there!

The other two…. in all fairness, the oldest child does the bulk of our grocery shopping around here, and shops for my mother and her boyfriend as well, every other week. And the youngest is still deep in school work.

Still. Saturday, and the dirty house, looms. I’m going to try to cut a deal with them tonight. Wish me luck.

How do you handle the housework in your house? Chore charts? Yelling? Just give up and do it yourself? Please feel free to add a comment !