by Amanda Jette
I have a dirty little secret. Very, very dirty.
I am a terrible housekeeper. Forget domestic goddess; I’m a domestic hoggess.
It’s not that I don’t like clean homes. I love them, actually. I admire the clutter-free spaces occupied by my childless friends. I gently caress the crisp magazine pages that feature sparkling tiles as I whisper, “Someday…” I go to Ikea and pretend the floor model is my living room. (They usually ask me to leave when I start suggesting people knock before coming into someone’s home like they own the place.)
My problem isn’t even that I hate tidying up. I actually find it really therapeutic. When I’m angry I do a lot of deep cleaning. My husband’s big clue that he’s crossed the line is when he sees me scrubbing stuff. I’m spraying venom and earth-friendly cleaner when I get down to toothbrushing the sink, y’all. Better step back.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t tick me off nearly as much as he should if he wants a clean house. If he did, our place would probably look like my Swedish home with the 16 kitchens. I tried talking to our marriage counselor about it. She said perhaps it was time I get my own therapist – maybe one with a few more letters after their name than she has.
I know I’m happier in a clean home, too. I’m more productive. I’m a better mom. I’m a more creative cook and writer. I’m a cheerier wife. Things are just easier when our home is functional, we can find the things we need, and we’re not experiencing excruciating foot pain from stealth Lego assaults.
So, why isn’t my home tidy? Because I have three boys. Three energetic engines chugging through the house at top speed, leaving a trail of terror and toys in their wake. Three grimy little gremlins eating and drinking and touching and wiping wherever they can, whenever they can.
I have three boys. They are not clean. It is their sworn duty to spread dirt far and wide. And I am very tired of picking up after them.
Look, I’m not one of those martyr mommies who walks around sighing and passive-aggressively slamming the dishwasher door as loud as she can while the rest of her family relaxes after the meal she’s cooked them.
Okay, okay, fine. I am sometimes. Or I was. But I’m not anymore. I’ve been demanding more help around here as they’ve gotten older, and they’ve been all, “anything for you, amazing giver of life,” and things have improved greatly.
Okay, okay, fine. They haven’t. I demanded and it totally didn’t work. I mean, it did, but it involved a great deal of yelling on my part and whining on everyone else’s part. And I still make them do it, but only when I have the energy to put into it. And when I don’t have that much energy I do it myself because it’s less work than yelling for half an hour. Also, I get to save my voice so I can sing Ke$ha in the car the next day.
Forced family labour = no singing voice = frowny-faced Maven listening to Ke$ha (who sounds a lot better with her Canadian backup singer.)
So I’m left with a few choices.
1. Do it all myself (or with my husband, who actually does help out a fair bit). This is not an option because I’m trying to commit to a lazier lifestyle and I feel this would sabotage my efforts.
2. Make the kids do it, there’s a lot of complaining, I threaten consequences, I implement consequences, there’s now crying possibly bordering on wailing, and then I get all yell-y and my pop princess gets no morning drive harmonization. My grumpy kids finally clean the living room two hours after I could have done it. This does happen a fair bit, but mostly because I do not want their future partners planning my untimely demise.
3. I train the dogs to clean up. This might actually be easier. My incentive to not yell is that the cocker spaniel will submissively pee all over the floor, and I’m pretty sure dogs can’t learn to work the carpet cleaner.
4. Ask Ke$ha to pay for a housekeeper. We’re pretty tight. It could work.
5. Offer to babysit for anyone who brags about how great their kids are at doing chores. It’s not violating any child labour laws if I’m not actually employing a child, right?
6. Give up. Wave a flag. Drink coffee. Eat chocolate. Throw sacrificial crumbs to the dust bunnies. Write a guest post about what a terrible housekeeper I am.
When Amanda isn’t chasing after her three boys with a mop and bucket, she writes as The Maven of Mayhem on her personal blog. Thanks to a highly developed caffeine addiction, she’s also a freelance writer, fledgling screenwriter, and raps a pretty believable Jay-Z. You can find her procrastinating on Facebook and Twitter.