Dr. Housework: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the vacuum cleaner

by doodaddy on March 22, 2007

Happy first day of spring, everyone! Or first full day of spring, as I was corrected elsewhere. The sun has passed over the equator, yesterday’s night is exactly as long as today’s day, the earth is warming, the flowers are blooming, and amidst all of these manifestations of nature’s inevitability comes one more phenomenon that is as inexorable as the seasons:

Spring Cleaning!

Believe it if you can: I actually like housework. I could go on and on about it (and I think I might, if you’ll forgive me), but my philosophy about it can be summed up pretty succinctly:

I’m always cleaning a little, which obviates the need to infrequently clean an absurdly ginormous amount.

To break that down a little more:

I like housework when my expectations are reasonable.

  • I know there’s no such thing as freshly cleaned forever. At best, my home is pre-dirty.
  • I don’t see housework as a chore that can be completed, but rather as a continuous process of minor, ratchet-like improvements. That way, when I’m interrupted folding the laundry by Boobaby who wants to throw it all over, I’ve at least gone a couple steps ahead.
  • Clean doesn’t have to mean untouched forever. I feel joy when my freshly mopped floor is walked on, because that’s what a floor is for, after all.

I like housework that is efficient.

  • Clutter is just the right stuff collecting in the wrong place. Every time I move from room to room, I carry something closer to its home. Putting it away is of secondary importance: I just get it on the right track. (I actually keep a “front of house” basket in the back rooms and a “back of house” basket in the kitchen for this purpose.)
  • All my cleaning tools and spray bottles are organized into “kits” (floor, wood, surfaces) so all the items I need are there when I need them.
  • Pretty much every time I wash my hands, I wash something else, too. As long as my hands are getting soapy, I might as well wash out the sippy cup I left on the counter. That way, the days miscellaneous plastic food containers and other non-meal washables don’t become a monstrous pile bearing down on me at the end of the day.

I like housework when I have the right tools for the job.

  • After many years and probably 15 different brands, I finally settled on an Oreck vacuum. (The link is unsponsored: I’m an Oreck evangelist.) Very light, very powerful. No tools, but I’ve got other vacuums for that.
  • When Boobaby became a self-feeder, I started using a manual floor sweeper. (A Bissell 2680B if you must know, but no link, because I imagine they’re all about the same.) It’s lives behind the china cabinet and is great for getting up the cereal bits when I don’t have the time to lug out the vacuum cleaner.
  • I keep a spray bottle with dilute dishwashing soap handy for nearly all everyday cleanup jobs.
  • And… Working Mom got me an iPod for my birthday. Downloaded podcasts and audiobooks make Doodaddy very happy.

So there you have it, although the foregoing is only part of the story: I really like housework in part because I’m always learning ways to do it better.

But no, that doesn’t mean I’m going to come do yours.

I also like housework when I don’t feel like I’m the only one doing it, but I’m going to leave that little landmine for another day.

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tagged as in housework,Tips for Doodaddies ·

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Blog Antagonist March 22, 2007 at 6:36 pm

“I’m always cleaning a little, which obviates the need to infrequently clean an absurdly ginormous amount.”

Poetry, sheer poetry. How come more men don’t get this????


doodaddy March 23, 2007 at 3:19 am

@BA~ Thanks, I was particularly proud of that sentence, what with having an SAT word and “ginormous” in immediate proximity!

But… do you really think it’s a male-female thing? I picked up the habit working at a wildlife hospital — you have to be systematic and diligent in that kind of situation or risk being buried by poop and fish guts. And it was honed by parenting, that constant struggle of make-sure-it-gets-done on a dozen fronts simultaneously. If men were more frequently the primary caregiver for their kids, or worked in an industrial kitchen, or stage-managed a play, or worked as butlers, don’t you think they’d “get this” too?

If that sounds like a rhetorical question, it’s not on purpose… I really, really wonder about this stuff a lot.



mom, again September 13, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I think doing the little bit of cleaning constantly at home has a lot to do with being AT HOME. After all, many of your complaints about WM’s non-cleaning habits are echoed by those of us with working dads. I know men who work in clean situations like kitchens, who can’t be bothered at home. Hell, when I’m working full-time, I can’t be bothered. On the other hand, during the times when I’m an at home mom, I concoct frantically complicated systems of clean this with that, and store those with these, stacked this way up gets the most on the shelf so oh my god do not deviate! Which reminds me that housework is so mindless is that I must create complications to keep my brain working. When I remember this, I can chill. But, I really, really prefer the utensils be sorted into different slots when they go in the dishwasher, so I only have to grab the bunches to put them away. REally. Really. that’s my complaint of the day against my working daddy.


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