Monday, 23 November 2009

Cleaning up

I've been back from London for ages but had lots of catching up to do - sleep, work, costumes for Christmas performances, more work, laundry, cleaning.

Cleaning is a bit of an emotional topic.

Although Aksel would quite like to be transported back to the 1960s Mad Men style home, where I fixed him a drink the moment he came home from work and his most taxing domestic duty might be to change a fuse, he actually does not believe it is all my responsibility to clean and is fairly willing to do his share.

The problem is that we just don't agree on when things need cleaning and on the level of dirt that is acceptable before a mop needs to be picked up.

A quick quiz of my girlfriends and I understand that this is a normal phenomenon. Apparently, men are just able to live with a lot more dirt and mess than women. Except for one of my friends who is married to an anal type, bordering on OCD. She moans about her husband's need to clean each individual tile to perfection in the bathroom, while I am actually wondering if I could borrow him for a while.

And while my girlfriends are sympathising with me and agreeing, they don't seem to have messy homes. How do they do it? If I am at someone's house and it is really clean and tidy, I admire their home and organizational skills. I wonder if they were rushing around to clean before I arrived or whether it always looks like this. And if I am in a slightly less clean, bit untidy house I will secretly feel a bit relieved and pleased. The thing is, although I like to think that I am not judging people by the tidiness of their house, I think that people are definitely judging me by the tidiness of mine.

A former colleague once admitted to me she used the Black-Plastic-Bin-Bag-Method to clean up. This is a mad dash round the house with a sack 15 minutes before guests are about to arrive.
I don't do this, but I am a big fan of the closely related Boot-of-the-Car-Method. This is used when you are trying to sell your house and have people coming round to see it Any. Minute. Now. You need to disappear the laundry basket, the mountain of toys in the living room, the pile of coats and boots in the porch and any other evidence that your home might lack storage space or the extra bedroom your potential buyers are looking for.

I know other people who have perfected the Little-and-Often-Method. This is probably my parents and other sensible people. Their homes always look ok and they are never worried to welcome unexpected guests. The mess never gets the better of them and they are basically on top of it. I wish I was in this category. Why I didn't inherit some proper cleaning gene I don't know.

But I think I am, unfortunately, in the All-or-Nothing-Method, which is just such a shame. I don't do anything unless I can do it properly, so I don't even start the cleaning unless I can complete the entire blitz of the vacuuming, mopping, dusting, re-arranging, re-cycling, polishing, and sanitizing in one go. And as I rarely (never) have 10 hours of uninterrupted time that I need to devote to cleaning, you can imagine how often this happens. My home looks extremely brilliant and clean and wonderful for about 1 hour every two months and then slowly declines into disarray until I am stepping over piles of stuff and eventually, after much huffing and puffing, the whole process starts again.

I would like to be the sort of domestic whirlwind that can transform the post-weekend debris and chaos into a hygienic and tidy place to be with just a few swiffs of the swiffer in the available 20 minutes. Because I do like Tidy. In fact, I thrive in Tidy and am a nicer person to be around. The mess is just stressful and annoying and makes me grumpy.

So this week I am changing my category. From now on I will be a Little-and-Often Goddess.

Failing that, I have a big pile of black bin bags.


  1. Ah the old 'boot of car trick' used by me when renting our house out. It has NO storage, but you coudln't tell as I used to stuff the suitcases (no where to keep them) in the car before anyone came round.

    I'm a little and often person and thus we are generally in a presentable state. But sometimes I let it get the better of me and within 3 days it's total chaos. Gah. x

  2. I love this!
    If it makes you feel any better I did indeed rush around in a frenzy of cleaning for several hours before you arrived. And haven't done a thing since waving you goodbye.
    But I am queen of the Tidy-but-not-actually-clean category, which works particularly well in winter when guests can be kept in candle-lit semi-gloom but admire the clear floor and freshly cut flowers.