I’m going to kick right off by admitting that I’ve never been very good at cleaning and tidying, and I’m certainly not a housewife. When I was at uni I’m ashamed to admit that on more than one occasion I left the dishes in the sink for so long that eventually I just gave in and replaced them with brand new ones.
Later, in my early 20’s when I was a running a busy (albeit small) business, I was well known for regularly having to stop at the shops for a new outfit on my way to work because none of my business appropriate clothes were clean.
Now, as I approach my 30’s (T minus 5 months) I’d like to think that I’ve come a long way. But the nearly-30-me is ready to admit that 20-something me just might have had a point. Okay, maybe she took it a bit far, but her point was still there and (almost) completely valid.
Cleaning and tidying is
fucking boring. There are way more interesting things I can think of to spend my time doing. But aside from that, I also have some very real, very important reasons why cleaning just isn’t that important.
1. Cleaning is Boring
Okay, I know I said aside from this. But also… this! Elements of cleaning and tidying are unfortunate and inevitable by-products of adulthood (a bit like eating your greens I suppose) and I do those things because I have to. But I definitely don’t want to do them, and I do everything I can to make them as quick and painless as possible.
I like my house to be clean and tidy, I just take no enjoyment from getting it there. Cleaning windows and mirrors? No ta. Ironing clothes? You’re alright mate (does anyone iron?!)
2. I’m Not a Housewife
Firstly, not married, not a wife. Secondly, I’m not a housewife. I’m a woman who is at home with her kids, and also trying to fit a little work in and around them. I’m at home because my kids are young, childcare is extortionate, and this blogging thing seems to be doing alright.
Not only do I not want to be a housewife, I wouldn’t make a very good one (see my intro). It just so happens that I quite enjoy cooking, so I’m happy to be the full time chef of the house, but that’s about the extent of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally pitch in with my fair share of the inescapable chores; tidying toys away, washing clothes, hoovering, putting away dishes (I still don’t wash up), and the occasional cleaning of the loo. As for the rest of it, it’s just not that high on my agenda.
3. I’m Here for Them
When Amelia was small I worked full time, long and strange hours. I remember how it felt to miss whole chunks of her week, and I remember how it felt to find out that her first steps were taken with my mum and not with me, as I’d thought.
She was very lucky to go to an amazing nursery where she thrived, and learned so much. I don’t think that learning should stop just because she’s now at home with me and at (a new) nursery less often. And I don’t see why her brother can’t have the same opportunities just because he hasn’t started nursery as young as she did.
Those are the things I believe I should be spending my time doing (and want to); providing them with opportunities to learn, develop, grow, engage their imaginations, discover things and laughing with them.
They don’t care if there are crumbs on the floor from lunchtime, and quite frankly neither do I!
4. I’ve Developed Strategies to Make it Quicker
aged grown up I have of course developed much more of a pride in my surroundings. I like my house to be clean and tidy. Especially the living room where we (hopefully) unwind and relax in the evenings. I just don’t like spending all my time getting it like that. In general, I don’t ever want to be cleaning or tidying for more than 10 minutes after the kids have gone to bed, which has meant honing some useful tactics and routines to achieve that.
All the kids toys have very specific homes in their room. It might sound anal, but what this means is that I can have their room tidied in about 5-10 minutes while they’re in the bath; I start by grabbing all the people and animals and they go in one drawer. All the vehicles in another, all the blocks and puzzles, and so on. It also means the kids always know where their toys are and means they play with them more often.
I’m not big on toys downstairs. I think it’s really important that my kids develop a sense of independence from me, and keeping most of their toys in their bedroom means that they tend to wander off and play in there, rather than always having to be in the same room as me. Of course a few toys sneak downstairs during the day, and they also have a garden full of toys, so they definitely don’t go without.
Our evening routine is pretty well oiled. Luckily for me, Mr C can’t stand the dishes being left, so it usually consists of him washing up while I bath the kids and whizz around their room, followed by one of us hoovering. Any other bits like the washing, or doing lunches for the next day get tag-teamed.
5. Kids Don’t Benefit from a House That’s too Clean
Possibly controversial, but a bleached-to-perfection house isn’t always good for kids. Firstly. I hate to break it you, but there’s no fun without mess. Well, not much anyway.
Secondly, it’s not amazing for developing immune systems. The immune system needs to come into contact with a certain amount of germs in order to work out how to deal with them. I’m not suggesting living in filth, but a little bit of what’s bad for is good for you.
6. It’s Not the Be-all and End-all
I’ve said already that some aspects of cleaning and tidying are unfortunate by-products of adulting, and I accept those amongst the other myriad shitty bits of being a grown up. I just don’t see the point in making them any more a part of my life than they have to be.
When I’m old and I look back on my life, I want to look back with pride and joy at all the time I spent helping the kids learn and develop and grow into wonderful grown ups. I want to remember fun, laughter, and popcorn fights on snuggly movie nights. I’m pretty sure I won’t give a rat’s arse about how much cleaning and tidying I did.
When they’ve moved out and my house is empty and never gets messy, there’s a small chance I might even miss their mess (probs not though).
Looking back on my life, I’d like to be able to say that I read all the books I wanted to, saw all the films, achieved all I wanted to, and enjoyed life. I can almost guarantee that how clean my house was won’t be top of my list of achievements.
The stuff I want to remember the most is the stuff I want to spend most of my time doing. So why spend most of my time doing the shitty things I’m barely going to remember or give a crap about?
7. Cleaning is Boring
Wait, did I already say that? Well… it’s a good reason so I’ll say it again. Cleaning is boring!
I’m off to have a tea party with 2 kids and some dolls, read a book for half an hour, then maybe (definitely) drink some coffee. How about you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts (mostly on whether I’m bat shit crazy or not!)