04/02/2006: "Posts, Posts, We got ya Posts here!"
First is Confessions of a Passive-Aggressive Housecleaner at fMh
Next we have Converting Miss Téa at A Prayer of Faith
They're worth allll the money you paid for 'em =D
Confessions of a Passive-Aggressive Housecleaner
By: Téa - April 3, 2006
(You may recognize this adaptation of a Russian Folk Tale which the wee blogging fairies left on my computer in exchange for a couple of Tom Jones CDs)
There once was a fairly young man. (For the purposes of this story, let us name him Fairly Youngman.) Fairly didn’t like to wipe off the countertops in his kitchen. It seemed to Fairly that no matter how many times he wiped and scrubbed and cleaned them off, they always got dirty quickly again and it didn’t seem worth all the trouble to Fairly. One day Fairly got so frustrated with this trend that he went to see the wise old woman who lived down the street whom we shall call Oldenvise. (Fairly didn’t really know her last name as they were not on a last name basis and Oldenvise knew better than to put signs with her surname on her front door.)
Upon hearing Fairly’s problem, the first thing that Oldenvise said was, “It could be worse.” However, upon observing that Fairly was deeply vexed by his struggles with his motivational patterns, Oldenvise thought better of it and gave Fairly the following advice:
“Take a half a dozen eggs and beat them thoroughly. Then pour them out across your countertop and let them sit for two days. At the end of those two days, take two cups of Kool-aid and pour it evenly over the surface of the eggs. Allow the Kool-aid to sit for about two hours and then sprinkle it lightly with cookie crumbs and allow this to set over the next five days. At the end of the week you will have found the solution to your motivational problem.”
Fairly went home and followed Oldenvise’s formula to the letter. He even made some improvements by adding some splotches of jelly here and there, since he could not set the bread on the counter to make his PB&J and was not particularly skilled at holding two slices of bread in one hand and making a sandwich with another. There was also a bit of ranch dressing that spilled on one corner and swirled and blended very nicely with the pinks and yellow already present on the counter, and with the taco sauce highlights.
At any rate, Fairly reached the end of the week and was more than ready to have his counter back. Fairly took out the putty knife that was reserved for the really tough cleaning jobs and unleashed all of the righteous indignation he had felt against the counter as he chiseled away at the egg-cement mixture. Okay, so Fairly never actually had to use a hammer to manipulate the putty knife, but it did cross his mind. After some good chiseling and scraping and scrubbing, Fairly had his countertop looking as good as new. Oldenvise had really know what she was talking about. The old counter appreciated breathing the free air again and Fairly was glad to have his countertop back again—so much so, in fact, that Fairly was happy to clean his countertop after that and had no further problems with his motivation for a week and a half.
Now, the moral of this story is not lost on you. In all honesty, it is not completely lost on Fairly, either. I think every one knows that there are two ways to do housework: the passive-aggressive method and the disciplined method. (There’s theoretically also an outsourcing option, but that does not fit into Fairly’s budget anywhere, so it is purely theoretical.) In the passive-aggressive method, the cleaner has two modes, complacent and angry. Cleaning is drudgery, although not nearly to the degree that Fairly imagined it to be. After Fairly’s energies are exhausted, he lulls himself into complacency again. Fairly does understand that if he just did a little every day, it should be easier and that he would be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor that way instead of just trying to keep up appearances. So, the question is why can I not—er, um, why can Fairly not get this lesson through his head once and for all and make his life a whole lot easier?
31 Comments »
Fairly’s passive-aggressiveness didn’t come to him in one day, it will take time for him to get used to his new complacency.
It took me two years of therapy to develop my new “aggressive” tendencies!
Comment by Formerly P-A Housecleaner — April 3, 2006 @ 9:22 am
Fairly’s problem is quite common I think. Its because we don’t see the whole picture while we’re cleaning. I know in my head that if I just clean up my messes that I will have less to clean later . . . but the ten seconds it takes to grab a wrag and wipe off the counter seems like a mountain of a task at the time. Silly huh? But it does.
Comment by Trivial Mom — April 3, 2006 @ 10:04 am
Hmm. After running out the door in frustration this morning, leaving behind a big mess, I looked for home organization books at the library. One of the hardest things about being home with my kids is the mess. The non-stop mess. Does anyone have books/resources that have helped them manage a household and control the clutter 1. without have to spending a lot of time doing it, 2. encouraging children to help out (I have a 4 1/2 year old that I think should be able to help somewhat, but who often doesn’t/won’t).
Comment by Mimi — April 3, 2006 @ 10:49 am
Disposable cleaning supplies (you know, those canisters with damp cleaning rags from Target (Lysol makes a name brand version, too). They make life so much easier… Just grab one, wipe the counter and throw it away.
Or those Pledge wipes for dusting. It’s the only way I’ll ever dust- if I can do just a bit at a time without having to go get a cloth, the Pledge, etc…
I know they are bad for the environment, but I figure ants in the house are worse, so that’s my trade off.
Comment by laura w — April 3, 2006 @ 11:21 am
Sorry about the solid lumps of text, all, either fMH wordpress doesn’t recognize my paragraphs breaks or it just really really doesn’t like me =/
Comment by Téa — April 3, 2006 @ 11:24 am
If Fairly lived in my house, he would be steaming not so much about the drudgery of cleaning but about the perception that Fairly is wiping down the stovetop a great deal more often than Fairly’s spouse…
But to deal with it, Fairly would keep a tape recorder in the kitchen with a steady supply of books on tape. Then the cleaning time becomes personal quiet/escape time.
Comment by Tania in Pittsburgh — April 3, 2006 @ 12:34 pm
I don’t have any books to recommend, but there was an article in this month’s Family Fun Magazine that I found extremely helpful.
I also love, Love, LOVE those wipey things! My favorites are the Lysol brand, but Costco was out last time I went and I got their Kirkland brand. I hate them. They sure do make kitchen & bathroom cleanup a snap, though!
Comment by SalGal — April 3, 2006 @ 1:46 pm
The book i have is called Organizing from the Inside Out. It’s so good that I have never read it. It’s sitting on my dusty shelf. But i heard enough of the principles to think it sounds good.
Comment by mullingandmusing — April 3, 2006 @ 3:46 pm
I’ve found Flylady (http://www.flylady.net) to be helpful. Even though a lot of her ideas aren’t suited to my personal situation, opinions, and taste, some of them do work for me. For example, the “start with the sink” and 15-minute timer are good ideas, in my opinion.
She says we procrastinate housecleaning because we want it to be perfect, so if we don’t have time and energy to get it perfect, we tend not to do anything at all. It’s kind of counterintuitive…how could someone who lets her apartment get so dusty really care about it being perfectly clean? But Flylady has convinced me that perfectionism is my cleaning hangup. I tend to want clean results rather than a cleaning process. Telling myself “it doesn’t have to be perfectly clean, I just have to clean it” actually helps motivate me to do more than I would otherwise do.
Comment by Beijing — April 3, 2006 @ 4:33 pm
I agree with Beijing. Gosh, it feels nice to type that again! (Hi, B!)
Another important flylady philosophy is that you don’t have to do it all at once; you just have to start where you are. You’re aren’t behind; you just are where you are.
She also recommends throwing away 17 things every day, and identifying your clutter hot spots.
She’s a little “squishy” for my taste, but she does have some good ideas that are easy to practice.
Comment by Ann — April 3, 2006 @ 5:11 pm
I recommend Cheryl Mendelson’s book, Home Comforts.
She gives practical breakdowns of daily/weekly/monthly/twice yearly chores which I find helpful. I am a chronic complainer and vampire (I hang onto things). Also, I grew up with the idea that I was too intellectual and important to do housework, and that all I needed was “some money and a room of one’s own,” with enough money to pay someone to clean it.
My position was emboldened when I lived with my Mormon roommate in school. We had passive-agressive contests to see who could stand not doing dishes or cleaning the bathroom the longest. She usually won. When she walked in and found me elbow-deep in grime, she would sigh, and say “Oh, I was just going to do that!”
However, some time ago, I stumbled onto another Virginia Woolf quote, which I love:
Imaginative work…is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners…. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in midair by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering, human beings, and are attached to the grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.
Between VW and Cheryl Mendelson’s book, I’ve stumbled onto some good, clean sense…and I actually feel some semblance of order.
A word about disposable cleaning wipes…I have an acute landfill aversion. However, I found “bar” towels at Target, and use them as dishrags and cleaning rags. I have about fifty. I also have about a hundred cloth napkins. Honestly, the cloth system is doable, and I find it somewhat…exciting? I don’t know why, but I love clean, pressed dishtowels and napkins. I do the ironing of the kitchen linens while I watch Medium.
Comment by pele — April 3, 2006 @ 7:06 pm
When my children were at home and little I found that if they understood that they didn’t get something new out to “do” or play with until the first one was picked up and put away it made things much easier and not quite so cluttered. I know that it is much easier said than done. (It’s too bad it doesn’t work with husbands as well )
Comment by MomR — April 3, 2006 @ 9:03 pm
Mimi, I still have a LOOOONG ways to go, but the book _Confessions of An Organized Homemaker_ is a good one. She has a good approach to organizing and cleaning, etc. The author is Deniece Schofield.
Comment by mindy — April 3, 2006 @ 9:45 pm
I used to really resent my husband for not doing enough around the house. He will cook and do the laundry; but he doesn’t really grasp the idea that sheets need to be changed more than once or twice a year; and as far as he’s concerned, the shower and toilet are self-cleaning, that’s what all the water is for. But I am fortunate in that he is just a bit clueless about it all; I have friends and family members whose husbands have impossibly high standards, but refuse to do any housework themselves.
Three things really help tame my own passive-aggressive tendencies: One, the idea that the house doesn’t care who tends to it, it just needs to be tended to. The dishes don’t care who washes them. The laundry doesn’t care who does it. These things just need to be done, and I can either waste a lot of energy running around pointing fingers and saying, “No, it’s your turn!” or I can just do it. Two, the idea that the clean house really is just for me. My husband doesn’t care. We could live in a pig hovel and he’d be happy. I clean the house because I want to live in a clean house. Knowing that I’m doing it for me, and not for anyone else, makes it seem like less of a chore. And three, finding value in housework. I’ve spoken about it before - how all these meaningless, menial jobs we do around the house have a real benefit. A clean house cuts down on disease, ashtma, allergies, etc. When I think of cleaning the house in these terms, it becomes something valuable. Doing the dishes, boring. Keeping my loved ones from getting nasty intestinal bugs, worthwhile.
Comment by Quimby — April 3, 2006 @ 10:35 pm
Adding to Quimby’s comments, I find the following quotes very motivational as well….
Neal A. Maxwell, A More Excellent Way, p.84 - p.85
Chesterton notes our low capacity for being able to deal with monotony and says in a moving passage: “It is possible that God says every morning, `Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, `Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes all daisies separately, but has never got tired of making them. ” The divine delight in what seems to us to be mere repetition is one clue to the sublime character of God. Since we must, at times, accept what appears to us to be routine, repeated experiences, we too, if we try, can find fresh meaning and fresh joy in the repeated experiences. God’s course is one eternal round but it is not one monotonous round. God is never bored, for one who has perfect love is never bored. There is always so much to notice, so much to do, so many ways to help, so many possibilities to pursue.
Neal A. Maxwell, Not My Will, But Thine, p.53 - p.54
Repeatedly God has described His course as reiterative, “one eternal round” (1 Nephi 10:19; Alma 7:20; 37:12; D&C 3:2; 35:1). We mortals sometimes experience boredom in the routine repetition of our mortal tasks, including even good works; and thus vulnerable, we are urged not to grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9; D&C 64:33; 84:80; Alma 37:34). But given God’s divine love, there is no boredom on His part amid His repetitive work, for his course, though one eternal round, involves continuous redemption for His children; it is full of goodness and mercy as His long-suffering shows His love in action. In fact we cannot even comprehend the infinite blessings which await the faithful—”eye hath not seen, nor ear heard . . .” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Comment by mullingandmusing — April 3, 2006 @ 10:57 pm
The Truest Greatness
“After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman. One is universal and eternal greatness, the other is ephemeral. It is true that such secondary greatness may be added to that which we style commonplace; but when such secondary greatness is not added to that which is fundamental, it is merely an empty honor, and fades away from the common and universal good in life, even though it may find a place in the desultory pages of history. Our first care, after all, brings us back to that beautiful admonition of our Savior: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’ (Matt. 6:33.)
“We should never be discouraged in those daily tasks which God has ordained to the common lot of man. Each day’s labor should be undertaken in a joyous spirit and with the thought and conviction that our happiness and eternal welfare depend upon doing well that which we ought to do, that which God has made it our duty to do. Many are unhappy because they imagine that they should be doing something unusual or something phenomenal. Some people would rather be the blossom of a tree and be admiringly seen than be an enduring part of the tree and live the commonplace life of the tree’s existence.
“Let us not be trying to substitute an artificial life for the true one. He is truly happy who can see and appreciate the beauty with which God has adorned the commonplace things of life.” Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 40, pp. 752-3 Dec. 15, 1905.
Comment by mullingandmusing — April 3, 2006 @ 10:58 pm
i see nothing wrong with a maid service if you can afford it.
i have my own routine for cleaning set up. each day has a room, like on monday’s i do kitchen cleaning, thursdays i vacuum… you get the idea. everyday i do general picking up and the dishes.
as far as clutter, just have less of it! the less stuff in your house that is true clutter the happier you will feel. i refuse to have anything in my home that i don’t love, and/or use. why have stuff in your house that doesn’t make you happy to see it? not only is it a cleaning issue, but it drains your energy as well. i don’t know about you all, but i need all the energy i can get!
Comment by Aimee Roo — April 3, 2006 @ 11:17 pm
Quimby, I really like what you said about remembering that the clean house is for me. I tend to project things onto my husband, and I often think he cares about how clean the house is when he really doesn’t. I also try to avoid thinking that cooking and cleaning are my economic contributions to the family. I have to remind myself often that I’m not staying home to have an immaculate house, but I’m staying home for my kids.
I’ve struggled lately with housework and trying to get my husband to clean up to my standards. I’ve decided that unless I can name a good reason besides “That’s how I want it done” then I shouldn’t complain about his methods. In this way I can point out the crumbs on the counter (because it will attract bugs), but not critique the way he folds the clothes (that’s not how I fold the towels).
Comment by Starfoxy — April 3, 2006 @ 11:53 pm
“dull women have immaculate homes”
thats the motto on a plaque in my kitchen. i have some routine, my DH has his:) and the kids have their own makes life very interesting but we get by, the house can be a liitle uncluttered at times but is clean and areas do get sorted eventaully!!
Comment by debra — April 4, 2006 @ 7:00 am
One of my favorite quotes (i can’t remember who said it) was,”anything worth doing is worth doing badly” she was talking about housework. Her point was that we often don’t wipe off the stove because we don’t have time/energy to take it apart and clean it but if we just wipe it off (doing it badly) everytime it needs it we won’t need to take it apart and clean it so often. I tried to follow that advice and it did help get away from the “all or nothing” attitude. Lest you think I have been a perfect housewife, I once lost a check, looked everywhere, finally had the person write me a new check and two months later I found the check ———-I had used it as a bookmark in “Confessions of an Organized Housewife”. Shows how organized I was. Hang in there, when I’m home (I’m currently serving a “senior” mission) I hire my granddaughters to do the grunt work. They work cheap and do a better job for grandma than they do for mom so hopefully I’m helping them learn. I love the idea that we do housework for ourselves and not others, it does put a whole new perspective on it. Happy housework everyone!
Comment by Dianna H. — April 4, 2006 @ 8:26 am
Comment #14–OH, don’t even get me started on husbands helping with the housework. I’m not a self-proclaimed feminist, but the two things that will get me going quicker than anything else is 1) the majority of the housework being up to the woman even if she also has an out-of-home job, and 2) the idea that when a woman goes out an leaves the kids with dad he is “babysitting” (like he’s doing her a favor or something). Grr.
That being said, I’m an all-or-nothing cleaner. B.K. (before kids) I loved to devote Saturdays to cleaning from top to bottom, one room at a time. Now that it’s just not practical to do that, it’s been hard to rewire myself to try and do “light” cleaning daily in the rooms where we spend the most time.
Comment by Anelie — April 4, 2006 @ 12:38 pm
I think I’m atypical in that LOVE to clean, do laundry and other household chores. I sit at a desk all day long and all I have to show for it carpal tunnel syndrome.
There is true pleasure in having something accomplished. The physical nature of cleaning reminds me so strongly of the days that I spent with my Mother. When my house is clean I feel mentally organized as well. Everything just runs more smoothly.
I find that it takes a few seconds to hang up a coat or put away shoes….if things are left out it take hours of catch-up.
Comment by sbowler — April 5, 2006 @ 10:30 am
One real issue is that most guys concept of “clean” is not acceptable to most women.
Another is that most guys do more cleaning than their fathers did, so they feel happy. Most women are doing the same, so they feel irritated. (The difference is that kids are cleaning less).
Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — April 5, 2006 @ 12:06 pm
Stephen, I agree with your statements…very astute.
My husband stays at home, and takes care of everything. He cooks, cleans, does laundry, shops, runs the kids around to appointments, does all the stuff that the ‘housewife’ normally does.
Everyone is totally amazed, they feel I’m incredibly blessed that he does all this (and has dinner waiting when I get home from work!) when they all work full time and can’t get their husbands to help out.
They wouldn’t be totally amazed if it was ME who was staying home and doing all this, they’d think it was normal.
But, me being a demanding woman, he doesn’t always clean as well as I’d like. I have learned to accept some things done his way, and those things that are very important to me, he has learned to do my way so as to keep the peace. He would be a passive agressive housecleaner if left to his own devices =)
But hey, it beats having to do it myself, so I’m open to compromise.
Comment by Darlene — April 5, 2006 @ 5:44 pm
BTW, you might find the rejoinder in this post funny:
Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — April 6, 2006 @ 12:04 pm
Cheryl Mendelsohn’s book makes me want to commit suicide (very carefully, so as not to make a mess on the way out!) One book that I’ve found helpful, especially for correcting my notions about what kids can and can’t be expected to help with/manage themselves is Mrs. Cleanjeans Guide to Housekeeping with Kids. I think she also has a website with schedules, calendars, etc.
Comment by Kristine — April 6, 2006 @ 8:19 pm
I swear by Flylady.net. I agree with a previous blogger that she’s a little “squishy,” but I agree completely with her whole philosophy and attitude toward our homes and lives. I love her approach towards cleaning. Her philosophy towards perfectionism and the need to declutter our lives can be applied to anything area of life–finances, exercise and eating healthy, overfilling our schedules to being to busy, etc. I am living proof. We have SOOO much peace in our home and family by following a lot of Flylady’s principles. But a lot of the ideas are just common sense, and not unique to Flylady.
Comment by Tiffani — April 6, 2006 @ 9:16 pm
So why haven’t there been any NEW threads since Monday? C’mon goddesses, get busy!
Comment by mindy — April 7, 2006 @ 2:44 pm
Hey, maybe they’ll use the guest post of mine that they asked for (and I delivered) a few months back.
One can never tell what is up.
Hope all is well.
Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — April 8, 2006 @ 1:39 pm
I have found that cleaning is a lot like leaf blowing. I have to start in one spot and just sort of work my out of it. Somehow having a spot to start focuses me.
Also, DH taught me something about cleaning up toys. He calls it “the bulldozer method.” He literally took a 2 by 4 and dragged it along the floor of our playroom, piling up the toys into one big pile. Between the 2 of us, it took us about 10, maybe 15 minutes to sort them and put them away, a job that I was sure would take at least an hour. Well, if I had employed my method where I pick up each individual toy, walk over to the correct bin and put it away, it would have. I am definitely a bulldozer fan, now.
Comment by Heather O. — April 8, 2006 @ 3:00 pm
My biggest problem when I had two little, little ones was I tended to do the same cleaning things over and over again. It was monotonous and I never got it done. I was always overwhelmed.
Now I have a schedule. I still do dishes everyday, but if it is kitchen day I clean stuff in the kitchen. I don’t worry about the tub. If it is bathroom day I clean bathrooms, if I only got one bathroom done I don’t even worry about it until the next bathroom day.
It totally helps me concentrate on CLEANING rather than just picking up the same clutter. And knowing that it is clean under the clutter is nice. So sometimes I forget the clutter and dust the baseboards or wash the sliding glass door.
It also helps me not feel overwhelmed with the endless list. My list is short and I get to focus…. and it leaves enough room for creativity (clean the microwave or the fridge? which do I feel like?)
Comment by jks — April 10, 2006 @ 3:50 pm