Saturday, October 24, 2009

Domestic Engineer: Part I

I have not worked full time for greenbacks since 2001. I have learned a few things from this time where I have not been compensated for work in the home if you don't count sticky kisses and cuddles as compensation, which I don't only because they don't accept that at the grocery store.

First and foremost among those lessons, is I am a horrendous haus frau. I despise cleaning and tidying. I can tolerate laundry but only if it doesn't accumulate. My lack of ability to deal with paperwork has been documented. This fall Husband and I recommitted ourselves to a lot of things, chief among them reclaiming the house.

We're improving. Even this week, we really kept up the kitchen each evening. We wiped counters, washed pans and actually looked for stray dishes in other parts of the house.

Come Friday, the teachers had a day to professionally develop themselves, it's raining and Sydney is under the weather. Happily we have a set of brothers coming over at 2 pm for a play date which will hopefully hit before Jackson's boredness climaxes. I got a call while I'm still groggily drinking coffee from another mom who is proposing get-together at her house of us, plus the play date brothers and their mom. I filled her in on the play date at our house and invited her over with her kids. Six kids in our house, but I get a grown-up to talk to! She approved the idea.

I hung up the phone and looked at the work to be done. Even the living room, our tidiest room, had newspapers, toys and miscellanea to clean up. I set to it and tidy the living room and head to the family room for a clothing reconnaissance mission. I placed a ginormous pile of kid clothes on the stairs and dove straight into the deep end for a declutter and organize of the wall unit in the family room. I sent almost all toys either up the the playroom (organized and purged last weekend) or down to the final purging area (purge-atory?), the rec room in the basement. I organized books, puzzles and even repatriated most of the DVDs, videos and CDs with their cases. It was looking lovely.

I headed to the kitchen as it's lunch and while making mac 'n cheese for the kids for lunch, I started working there. Then I received a revelation. The kitchen was not as bad because we'd done that little bit extra all week. The counters were less cluttered. The stove was even semi-clean. The white sink was not as bad as usual (seven whacks with a wet noodle for person who thought white porcelain sink a good idea ... just a few toast crumbs and the think looks dirty). Because I was working less on the counters and the sink, I could actually vacuum the floor WELL and spot clean it. I admittedly did have to spend too much time on the kitchen table and counter (#@#^&* school notices!!) but in less time than normal it looks like other people's kitchens!

I think back to a time when we went to some friends for dinner (my capital G girlfriend). We were invited over for dessert and we arrived and they were finishing cleaning up dinner. They washed and wiped and when they finished their kitchen sparkled and I was thinking I wish ours could be that way. But Husband and I have a habit of leaving till after bedtime stories and by then we're near out of gas hence only dishes, foods and the worst of the rest of it gets done.

So THIS is how other people live!

Anyway, at 1:30 I got a call from Mom who was to come over and she forgot about an appointment so they won't be coming. So during the play date I drank tea, sat by the fire and read a magazine (I would possibly be blogging but there were 4 kids jockeying for their turns).

In the evening, I was a bit dispirited. Even though we had ordered pizza for supper, the kitchen didn't look as it had in the afternoon. There were plates and cups and pizza boxes. And DQ Blizzard cups for our very special treat. And dirty napkins. And the kids had played with a couple things and they were on the floor of my previously immaculate family room. I grumbled as Husband and I set it to right.

This morning Husband made pancakes for breakfast. He took Jackson to skating lessons and I received another revelation. If I actually clean up breakfast in its entirety, the kitchen will be clean again. So I emptied the dishwasher and refilled with pancake dishes and washed the fry pan, put away a couple food items and wiped the counter and table. I very much doubt it took me more than 4 minutes. Yet I rarely do it, opting to leave some or all of it for later.

As I found earlier this year after a similar reclamation project, I am struggling not to get cross with the kids over a tiny bouncy ball migrating into the living room and over their noxious habit of sitting on the couch and throwing the cushions on the floor.
Next project? The kids' bedrooms. Sydney's is not too terrible as I spent a couple hours in there not too long ago, but I want to swap some furniture which will lead to a reorganizational domino effect. Jackson's room is almost beyond recovery. I've told him all week "you room is going down ..." I think he expects ME to do all the work.


Ellie said...

Purge-atory is my new favorite word.

I absolutely detest when they take the cushions off the couch and pile them on the floor - for some reason I can handle mess almost anywhere else, but this one gets me.

I get dispirited when I do a major reclaimation project - it feels like it only takes a few days to return to chaos. Sounds like you guys are doing a good job staying on top of it - at least you're in it together!

Will you guys come here and clean up, too? :)

Konnie said...

Ellie, we are not near done our house no way we can contract ourselves out!

What is it about the cushions? Drives me mad. If I ask them to replace them I have to do so 19 times and the angry Mommy voice usually appears. Sigh.