Amy Tries Again


Things I Do Not Like: Basic Housekeeping
June 2, 2010, 6:17 PM
Filed under: Things I Do Not Like | Tags: ,

Cleanliness.  Apparently it’s next to godliness, but I am both a slob and a heathen.

I have never been what you’d call a tidy person.  As a child, my room got so bad that my mother would order me out, arm herself with gloves and a garbage bag and sort out the worst of the mess – each time telling me that from now on I really had to keep it halfway decent.  Half-eaten pieces of fruit would be found under my bed, my school swimming bag would moulder in the corner for days, and I would think nothing of leaving the school jumper I’d spilt yoghurt on at little lunch stuffed behind the door for a week or so.  I really was a disgusting little creature.

Do keep in mind that I didn't have any teeth. It's hard not to spill yoghurt without teeth to hold it in.

Of course, adolescence did not make me any better.  Stinky shoes, an apparent sighting of a rat in my locker in year 9, my room’s collection of old, dead bowls of 2 minute noodles, an impressive floordrobe and rebellious teenage half-smoked cigarettes saved for later stashed stinkily in a coat pocket (sorry, Mum).  Again, quite disgusting.

(No, no picture of teenage Amy.  That’s another story for a another time.)

Sharehouse life a few years later wasn’t the madcap freedom I’d dreamt of.  My first sharehouse was with some girls I’d gone to school with, and they insisted on things like cleaning the bathroom and arranging to have the lawn mowed.  Thankfully, a few years later I found myself in a far more appropriate venue, complete with trolleys borrowed from the local supermarket, magic mushrooms growing in the bathroom cupboard, a kitchen that was frequently home to a possum you had to practically attack with a broom to get to leave the benchtop, a secret cat and an extra tenant whose room was made out of sheets and plywood.  For quite some time, I didn’t actually have a key.  I just climbed through the window on the back verandah if nobody was home.  Keeping our home sparkling was not our priority.

Pretty much.

I am not quite like that now.  I’ve been living like a semi-responsible adult for a few years now, but I am still definitely…pleasantly bohemian in my cleaning habits.  I’ve had times where I’ve gone quite domestic, though, because there’s a flip side to my slobbish ways.

You see, it’s not that having a cosy home doesn’t appeal to me.  On the contrary, I am quite obsessed with decorating and design blogs.  I love the idea of having things…well…nice.  One of my favourite things to think about as a kid was what I would do if I could pick my dream bedroom – I treasured a book about children’s bedroom makeovers and would move my furniture around my room, ‘decorating’, quite a lot.

During the cranky, stinky teenage years, I was obsessed with the op shop, with any terrible old furniture I could persuade my mum to let me drag out of storage downstairs to adorn my room. with putting together the perfect poster wall and with ironic trinkets (this obsession hasn’t yet worn off).

Even during the dodgiest of sharehouse years, couldn’t help myself sometimes.  I turned our back verandah into a tiki hut with fairylights and bamboo.  (I would occasionally clean THE ENTIRE BATHROOM or THE ENTIRE KITCHEN in a glorious display of effort, but that was about it.)

How could I be both these people at the same time?  I’ve even gone through parts of my life as a neat freak.  This  always seems to happen when I’m stressed – I must have inherited my mother’s cleaning-the-bathroom-in-times-of-worry gene.

So what’s the middle ground?  It seems to me that the sort of standard housekeeping that people just have to do on a regular basis is boring.  I want to do creative pretty things to my house, but I don’t want to do the washing up.  I’ve attained a level of basic hygiene in my old age, but things could be better.  Maybe instead of analysing it to death, I should just start cleaning up after myself.  I read that it takes 21 days to gain a habit, so for the next 3 weeks, I’m going to keep my house clean.  I’ll report back then to see if my ways have changed at all.  I don’t want to coast on enthusiasm for a week and then burn out, so I’m just going to try to do the normal amount that people do to keep things shipshape.

The next three weeks.

See you on the other side.  Maybe I’ll distract myself from my drudgery with another, smaller, Try Again.  The football is on soon.

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3 Comments so far
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21 DAYS?!? I could do that! Maybe. Thanks Amy, I now feel encourages to clean my room and keep it that way!

Comment by mia

Great article – very cleverly written.

Amy, though I would like to say that keeping ones house clean is like small business operator saying am going to be a ceo of a multinational for 21 days…. Terribly courageous … but a bit mad.

Remember that before we women on mass agreed with the patriarhy that housework was a trivial not important past time we actually thought of as it as full time job. And you now why? because it is a full time job. If I cleaned to the standard that woman in the fifties did it would take me all bloody day or at least half of one. Keeping a home well kept is a job and we in the modern world fail to honour it by even reckonising the time that it takes or the beauty it can add to our lives. (I also think that those couples where the man actually has a clue about the housework and participates actually get more shagging in. It’s as though “your housework” becames “our housework – let’s get it out of the way and then let’s get on the bed” Nothing says let’s shag like a nicely made bed that just needs to be rumpled. – Just a heads up to the guys out there wanting a tip)

So if you are on to a housework bint then may I suggest if you want the habit to stick then start small. A popular housework support site “the flylady” suggests you should start with “shine your sink” each evening. It sets up the notions of before bed routines and morning routines and evening routines.

Comment by Zoe

Hmm… We have a goal to make sure the sink is clean each night. “Scrub the sink” is probably what I’d say is in my head as the rule. “Shine the sink” is essentially the same thing, but now that I’ve thought about it, it betrays that I focus on the despised action (scrubbing) rather than the desired outcome (shiny). Maybe that’s why I hate housework. Hmm.

Comment by Kris




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