Friday, June 10, 2011

Zen and the Art of Household Maintenance

Exhibit A1: The kitchen.

I have a lot of childhood memories of my mother being very stressed out about the state of our house. I remember feeling like my mom was missing out on a lot of fun because she was always trying to organize and stuff.   

Exhibit A2: Detail of the kitchen
We had a big house, four girls, and way too many toys thanks to our very overly genorous grandma. I suppose we were pretty messy as a group - I know that our kids' bathroom was full of dirty clothes and I guess that's pretty gross. And I recall the playroom being taken over with elaborate "houses" made from easels and blankets sand pillows.  That probably looked pretty awful through the lens of adult perspective.  And, generally, none of us cleaned our room on a regular basis...  OK, so there was some merit to her constant fretting about how much of a wreck the house was.  And in retrospect, the four of us were probably being brats by being so unhelpful about cleaning.  Things you realize with age...

As much stress as the lack of cleanliness caused, she was fighting a losing battle. Despite her crusades against clutter, all four of her progeny are pretty much slobs. We have a collective tendency to roll our eyes at folks who regularly clean their windows and change sheets once a week.  I have a terrible time with basic stuff like actually walking across the room to put things away, and (blush) even throw trash away.  My sisters are worse.  When I helped them clean out an apartment they shared a few years back, even I was grossed out by the mess - and it takes a lot to gross me out. 

Exhibit B: Toys gone mad.

Since the arrival of AwesomeKid, it's been an uphill battle to keep our house from descending into complete and total squalor. Between my laissez faire attitude and BestHusbandEver's tendency to hoard and pile ("If it's in a neat stack it's not clutter!"), AND the lack of a dishwashing machine, we are like a sinking ship in an ocean of crap. It's actually enough crap that it sometimes makes me anxious and makes me start to miss the fun stuff and obsess about the mess everywhere. Which means I might be becoming my mother.


Exhibit C: Crap everywhere!!!

So the mess generally had been taking over slowly and steadily, and with both of us working full time, the running around toddler who NEVER STOPS, and the accompanying exhaustion, BestHusbandEver and I were feeling a bit lost and hopeless about the whole situation. 

But then we did something brave, something bold, something AMAZING!  Something I never ever thought I would do.  The laissez faire attitude stopped, we recognized the importance of cleanliness and we took matters into our own hands!  We took a brave new step in the battle against the STUFF!

Did we throw out all the stuff we don't need?  Did we create a system for organization? Did we actually start cleaning up on a regular basis?  NO!

We hired a housekeeper.  Best effing decision EVER. 

Exhibit D: Shiny!

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