I’ve recently had some great conversations, i.e. debates, about housekeeping: its necessity (or lack thereof), its frustrating redundancy (everyone agreed on this), its value as a marker of human (female) worth, and its ability to stress you out.
I used to be in the clean-the-entire-house-every-week camp. It was a lot of work and I lived alone at the time. It caused me no end of stress, but you couldn’t say my house wasn’t clean. You also couldn’t say I was all that happy.
Then I met my husband and he slowly showed me that the dishes didn’t spontaneously shatter if they weren’t washed immediately after dinner and that the world didn’t end if you skipped the mopping one week so that you could spend a day living life to the fullest.
Now I have a much different attitude when it comes to cleaning the house. Am I still using all of those scribbled notes that are covering half of the coffee table? Yes? Let them lie so I can find them when I need them again. Will I actually use that pile of coupons on the dining room table? Yes? Let them lie so I can find them when I’m ready to go shopping. Can I see any dust on the table lamps or knickknacks? No? No need to dust just yet.
It took me a while to work up to this level of less work/more life, but I’m so glad I did. It’s a lot less stressful than the alternative. For special occasions I’ll still go all out, but for day to day living I prefer to… well… live.
To Clean or Not to Clean
If you need a little encouragement to occasionally let some piece of housework slide without stressing out or feeling guilty, here are 20 quotes* that might help:
“My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.” ~ Erma Bombeck
“Nature abhors a vacuum. And so do I.” ~ Anne Gibbon
“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.” ~ Erma Bombeck
“Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.” ~ Author Unknown
“My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” ~ Erma Bombeck
“Don’t cook. Don’t clean. No man will ever make love to a woman because she waxed the linoleum – ‘My God, the floor’s immaculate. Lie down, you hot b*tch.'” ~ Joan Rivers
“We labor to make a house a home, then every time we’re expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house.” ~ Robert Brault
“If the shelves are dusty and the pots don’t shine, it’s because I have better things to do with my time.” ~Author Unknown
“There may be dust in my house but there isn’t any on me.” ~ Author Unknown
“Dull women have immaculate houses.” ~ Author Unknown
“The washing of dishes does seem to me the most absurd and unsatisfactory business that I ever undertook. If, when once washed, they would remain clean for ever and ever (which they ought in all reason to do, considering how much trouble it is), there would be less occasion to grumble; but no sooner is it done, than it requires to be done again. On the whole, I have come to the resolution not to use more than one dish at each meal.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
“When it comes to housework the one thing no book of household management can ever tell you is how to begin. Or maybe I mean why.” ~ Katharine Whitehorn
“Housework, if it is done right, can kill you.” ~ John Skow
“A bright person can always think of something better to do than housework.” ~ Ruby Lou Barnhill
“You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping.” ~ Rudyard Kipling
“I have sporadic OCD cleaning moments around the house. But then I get lazy and I’m cured. It’s a very inconsistent personality trait.” ~ Chris Hemsworth
“If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, “Who could have done this? We have no enemies.” ~ Phyllis Diller
“Housework is work directly opposed to the possibility of human self-actualization.” ~ Ann Oakley
“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” ~ A.A. Milne
“At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unloved.” ~ Rose Macaulay
All I can say is that if Thor (you did catch his quote, right?) doesn’t clean his own house thoroughly on a regular basis, you’re off the hook too. Besides… a little dirt helps build a healthy immune system. Read this if you don’t believe me.
*If anyone has an attribution for any of the author unknown quotes, let me know in the comments below so I can give proper credit.
As always, don’t forget to share this with anyone and everyone you think could benefit from it.