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Most of us learn about house cleaning and maintenance from our mothers and I am no exception. My mother was a crisis cleaner. This means that generally the housework was left until either A) we had company coming over or B) it was time to put up the Christmas tree.
There was also frantic panicked cleaning or stuffing things into cabinets and closets when my grandmother was coming – she wasn’t really considered company since she lived 2 doors away and was at the house 1-3 times a week.
At these times, my mother would turn into a complete tyrant and would scream, yell, cajole, bribe, etc to get me and my father to help her in cleaning the house.
We would work furiously to get the house into shape. We would often work late into the night getting the house into order because no one would rest until the house was to my mother’s idea of cleaning perfection.
I grew up with this and my only real idea of housekeeping was about this crisis cleaning. There was no such thing as a weekly cleaning day, or areas of the home that needed daily attention. And I grew to HATE the week of Thanksgiving because we’d put the Christmas tree up that weekend and my mother couldn’t consider putting it up unless the house was completely clean and tidy. This is when my mother would do a version of Spring cleaning that would make everyone bat shit crazy.
After all, we had hardwood floors and they needed to be stripped and waxed. The rug in the living room needed to be shampooed. The kitchen cabinets needed to have everything taken out and washed. The bathroom needed to have every inch of floor space scrubbed with a small brush reserved just for this purpose. The linen closet had to be completely emptied and all items categorized, rewashed if necessary, refolded and placed back into the closet.
What’s worse is my maternal grandmother – the one that lived two doors down? – was doing the same thing and would enlist my help. I was volunteered to help grandmother and then I had to come home and do all the same things at my house.
I later found out that my grandmother had volunteered my mother’s help to HER grandmother when my mother was a girl – so this was just what you were supposed to do. Besides, in my grandmother’s and mother’s eyes, I was young, I couldn’t get tired!
By the end of the week, I was exhausted, could care less if we ever put up the Christmas tree and just wanted to go back to school.
After Moo and I got married, I refused to do the bat shit crazy cleaning but the house would have to be cleaned or it would be a complete pig sty. In fact, while I was working, Moo and I would tackle the kitchen about once a week and we’d get the trash taken out in time for pickup. But the other stuff like cleaning the toilets and bathtubs and vacuuming and mopping were left until CRISIS CLEANING TIME!
And of course, if it’s been – GASP! – a month since you cleaned your toilet, you know that’s not a fun job. It takes three times longer to get that sucker clean as it would if you just gave it a swipe every couple of days and then really scrub it out once a week. But who can remember to swish it daily?
I believe that I have found a secret to keeping house without crazy long cleaning sessions. What I have discovered keeps me and my family sane. I’m not having to browbeat my husband into helping me because THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO AND I CANNOT POSSIBLY DO IT BY MYSELF!!!
Come back tomorrow to learn what I’m learning.