My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
– Erma Bombeck
It amuses me when people talk about their “least favorite” household chores, because I don’t like any of them. Of course, some are easier than others — I would rather run the dust rag around the table tops before I’d choose to mop the kitchen floor, but so what? That’s like saying I’d rather eat brussel sprouts instead of fried liver. I’d rate the first as tasting better than the second, but then again, I can’t stand either.
I do my best to keep things clean, though, because as much I don’t like cleaning house, I even more don’t like living in filth. And really, it’s not so bad, especially now that the kids are old enough to offer competent help. But in the end, I’m the one who’s home all day, so I end up with the longest chore list. I keep sane by dividing it into three stages.
Stage 1 is all about LOOKING CLEAN, more than it is about actually being clean. This is the stuff I do daily, just in case someone stops by unexpectedly. It mostly involves picking up piles of household clutter and hiding them behind closed doors, stacking dirty dishes neatly in the sink and then covering them with a dishcloth, and throwing dirty laundry down the basement stairs.
Stage 2 involves dusting, vacuuming, and wiping off of sticky surfaces. I do this on days when I can see the pet hair floating in the air, or when my hand sticks to the door knobs. Occasionally some smarty pants will write DUST ME with their fingertip on the television screen and I will think to myself, “I bet it’s time for some Stage 2 cleaning!” That’s when I write, “The Pledge is in the bathroom” in the dust below that, and go make myself a snack.
Stage 3 calls for deep cleaning. It’s the nitty-gritty task of scrubbing out the house from top to bottom armed with steel wool, rubber gloves, and a vast array of powerful cleaning products capable of producing noxious poisonous fumes when mixed indiscriminately. This stage happens on a fixed schedule, with clockwork precision, exactly three days before my mother flies into town for a visit.
I think the worst part about housework is that as soon as you finish one task, it needs to be done all over again. Finish all the laundry, and by bedtime the hamper is full. Vacuum the couch cushions, and five minutes later the cat is throwing hair on them. Scrub out the toilet, and next thing you know some wise guy just has to pee.
I mean really. It never ends.