Friday, February 27, 2009

School of housewifery

A few weeks ago when the living conditions at Nadya Suleman's (aka Octomom) house were revealed on television, I am sure I was not the only person to think "What a disgusting mess -- those poor kids!" along with other unsavory judgemental things that probably don't bear repeating.

And then I realized -- with horror -- that if a news crew ever came to my house, my grandmother would die just to roll over in her grave because of how much dust and debris we have in our entryway alone.

I'm the first to admit I'm not the best at housekeeping. I do enjoy a clean environment, but I just don't always know how to go about doing it. I get overwhelmed by the idea of cleaning EVERYTHING so my solution is to clean nothing. Typical first-born behavior -- it's not perfect so I either must destroy it or not even bother doing it in the first place.

I read an excellent article yesterday called "Study to Show Yourself a SAHM" by Heather Koerner on

Her article put into words what I have felt, but haven't been able to express: I have no training for being a SAHM.

I haven't read any books on being one. I don't know (very well) anyone who is one. And -- let's face it -- if I did know someone who is one, I'd not want the unsolicited advice anyway.

I can work magic in the kitchen. I enjoy the art of cooking. The meal preparation part of homemaking is not foreign to me, however the idea of planning meals is very foreign. I'm still in my "single girl" phase of preparing food, which is to first think about what I'm in the mood to make and then go to the store and get the ingredients to make it.

I don't plan for the week and do grocery shopping just one time. I do try to use things we have on hand, but it doesn't always work out that way. (Deborah would drive to my house and slap me if she knew what I've thrown away that would have been "PERFECTLY GOOD FOR STOCK!")

I'm just not a very organized person to begin with, so the idea of organizing the household duties is really something I can't even begin to grasp. How often should I do the dusting? (I mean, you know, besides never).

How often do I need to wash Phoebe's sheets? (I mean, what -- she's not dirty, she doesn't get sweaty, and the stupid mattress is SO SNUG in that crib and I HATE changing them).

Is there an easy way to clean the bathtub and shower? I mean, besides just setting fire to it and hoping for the best?

How many pair of shoes by the front door is too many? (5? 6? 1?)

I haven't been trained for this position, and I feel so liberated acknowledging it.

And now that I've acknowledged it, I need to improve.

I'm going to try to create a schedule. I own the big Martha Stewart Housekeeping Guide (and love it), but I know that might be unrealistic. Or, is it? Can I wash our bed sheets ONCE A WEEK? Really?

Or put the clothes away IMMEDIATELY after folding them? But what about if I'm watching LOST and I just want to go to bed right afterwards? Can't I leave them in the basket then?

Growing up we had cleaning ladies. That is because when my mom was my age, she had a 15 year old, a 13 year old (her stepsons), a 7 year old and a 3 year old. We had hot meals for dinner every night (never had take-out that I can remember), she made homemade fruit roll-ups, jam, bread and our lunches each day.

And somehow in all that commotion, she even made sure we never ran out of toilet paper.

I have no idea how she did it.

But the cleaning ladies helped. Her.

I didn't clean a bathroom until high school. And I distinctly remember my mom getting mad at me for leaving streaks on the mirror. How was I supposed to know? I didn't know how to do it!

Several years later when I lived on my own, I got my own cleaning lady. Oh Grace, I would love for you to come live with us and be our indentured servant ... sigh ...

Grace would spend 5 hours every week and clean every item in my apartment, I mean, everything: microwave, dresser, salt shaker, toilet, shower (and I'd like to think she used different sponges for each one). She'd even walk Lola.

5 hours.

The whole thing.

Granted that was just for 1 person, and not 2 people + a baby whose diapers need to be washed and folded and put away about 3 times per week (I wash them every 2 - 3 days, so it varies). But it didn't take her that long ... so maybe with more practice it won't take me that long?

I know the job I do is important, but I can get overwhelmed. I think "How do people do this with more than 1 baby?" I wonder how in the world I was able to jump through the gigantic hoop of college, but just can't figure out how to fold a bed sheet, even WITH Martha Stewart's step-by-step guide.

That said, I've made it my goal to do the following:

1. Start a schedule. Stick to it. Or at least lie to the Internet and tell you I'm sticking to it and pray that national news teams won't come to film my filth.

2. Get dressed and brush my teeth EVERY MORNING. No excuses. As I type this, I realize I haven't brushed my teeth yet today, but this morning was unusual because, well, I was thinking about all the housework I wanted to get done today.

3. Plan weekly menus. If it kills me. And it will. I am going to die from menu planning, I know it.

That's it for now.

I've done several loads of laundry today (none of which has been folded yet, natch) and the kitchen has been CLEANED (I even moved the olive oil and the utensils away from the walls and cleaned the counters behind them) and mopped. The baby's sheets have been washed and put back on the bed. Our bed sheets have been changed.

And I'm still standing.

And in desperate need of a cold beer.

But first, I need to figure out what to make for dinner tonight.


Mama Parker said...

I could help since I am so OCD...yes, thanks to my mother. I love organizing and cleaning. Something is seriously wrong with me. All I know is that being pregnant has restricted me from this joy and it's driving me crazy!!

Pathetic I know.

Annie said...

I have become a master at the art of procrastination due to my hatred of housekeeping and laundry. And meal planning - what's that?? I signed up for hoping it would help me in that department (description is here: but have yet to actually do anything with it. Maybe it will help!

Anonymous said...

I am dying. With the exception of having help, you have quite eloquently described many of my own problems! Hilarious!

(found you through Dana, so you don't think I'm a total freak.)

jeff said...

i digg reading your blog b/c our world's are so different.

that being said, the only thing I understood in all of this is the part about wanting a beer.

that fact alone is what makes us buddies.


katie disimone said...

My aunt got my grandparents (88 years old each) a cleaning lady every other week. My grandmother is horrified by the idea, but my aunt insisted (I agree with my aunt after finding a blue pill on the floor one day...with my 12 month old crawling on the ground.) Anyways, my grandma says "I don't know why she's even here. It's just the two of us, so we can't possibly make that much of a mess." To which my grandfather replied (and I still laugh as I type this) "Well, we must make some mess because she's busy for 8 hours cleaning each time!"