Meh. Whatever floats your boat. I think homes can be happy and messy or happy and tidy. If mess and clutter stress you out, obviously your messy house isn't going to be a happy one. If walking behind your kids all the time, cleaning up after them is more trouble than it's worth to you, then you're going to be a seriously crabby patty pursuing that magazine-perfect living room. No matter which way you are, being a sanctimonious a-hole to someone with the opposite viewpoint is a no-no, in my opinion.
I'm not always tidy; I'm not always messy. I let my mood dictate which one I'm going to be (or somewhere in between) on any given day. When I'm in the middle of writing a first draft of a novel or in the final stages of the publication process, I'm more apt to ignore the mess around me.
When I emerge from my writing fogs and decide, "We're disgusting, and this house must be cleaned," then it better happen... in double-time. I also clean when I'm stressed out or worried or angry. That is, when I'm not hiding in bed eating chocolate because I'm stressed out, worried, or angry.
My attitudes about tidiness and housekeeping seem to drive the rest of my household. It usually takes me reaching my clutter limit for the finer details--like vacuuming and dusting--to be addressed. And that's fine. Whatever. See, the benefit of that is that when I want the house to be clean, we clean the house; when I don't care, nobody bothers me or guilts me into thinking we should clean the house. It's a beautiful arrangement. (Fortunately, I also have a husband who's a functional, responsible, useful human being and doesn't need to be treated like a child and told to do what needs to be done to keep us from being shut down by the Health Department.)
I'd like to make one thing clear, though: my possession of a vagina has nothing to do with my ability or desire to live in a clean home. Therefore, my housemates' (a.k.a., husband's and offsprings') genitalia are also irrelevant. So when I see things in my online travels that seem to place all of the responsibility for housework on the wife/mother of the family (with occasional "help" from the kids and husband, "if he's willing"), well........ stroking out is a real possibility.*
I know, I know... scroll on by. But... but... but... I can't! Because... equality!**
Now. Let me state specifically what kind of living situation I am addressing here. I'm talking about a two-adult household in which both adults work a job (whether at home or away from home) that requires them to focus on non-household matters in order to support their family. If you're a stay-at-home parent (male or female), and you make the person who brings home the bacon (male or female) scrub toilets on the weekend, you're a jerk. (Unless they really love scrubbing toilets, and then... well... you're living with a somewhat strange person, but to each his/her own.) And if you're a single parent, God bless you, and you deserve to be five times as outraged as I am by these privileged a-wipes who spout their "womanly housework wisdom."
Let's just take my own family as an example: I work forty hours a week outside the home; my husband works forty-plus hours a week outside the home. When we're home, we share in making and cleaning up the mess. And our spawn contribute three-fold to that mess, so they have to help clean it up, too. Do we divvy up the chores according to age, ability, and inclination? Absolutely. I hate grocery shopping, so my husband is nice enough to do that. You know, because he eats the food, too. I'd actually like our clothes to remain wearable, and our kids still have plenty of time to learn how to turn white underwear pink... on their own dime... so the kids get to do things like unloading and reloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and keeping their rooms tidy(ish). I get the odious task of paying bills. Everyone pitches in with bathrooms, because--this may shock you--we all use the bathrooms, some of us more neatly than others. It's not about score keeping and being all fairsy-waresy, necessarily; it's about getting the job done. Notice, though, that sexual organs don't play any part in the division of labor. Not one bit.
So when I do run across "helpful hints" for "working women" about how to keep a clean, tidy house, in addition to everything else we do, it brings out the snark in me. Big-time. I don't care who writes it. That lack of solidarity, that smug know-it-allness, that "See? You can do it all, if you just try harder" bullshit makes me want to scream.
But I don't like loud noises. So I wrote my own "tips" instead, in response to the latest piece I read. You know, for women who may not be as lucky as I am, with my thoroughly modern husband who knows how to run a vacuum and separate lights from darks. (Yes, I'm rolling my eyes.)***
How To Be the Perfect Woman (On Weeknights and Weekends, When You're Not Earning a Paycheck to Feed, Clothe, and Shelter Your Family):****
- Multi-task. Forget those naysayers who say multi-tasking isn't possible and results in multiple things being done insufficiently. If you're not breastfeeding while vacuuming while overseeing your kids' homework completion while planning the next week's completely organic dinner menu while signing field trip permission slips, you're just not doing enough.
- Technically, this is all your mess, if you think about it. You married that person and made those kids who made that mess. Now deal with it.
- We have the technology. Set up reminders on your phone to keep you on-task. Never leave a load of laundry to mildew in the washer ever again. There's an app for that!
- To save time during the folding process, make sure all of the socks have mates when they go into the washing machine. (Something tells me you're not spending enough time on your hands and knees, looking under beds. Tsk. Tsk.)
- If you really aren't awesome enough, then I suppose you can respectfully ask your spouse and children to help you out. But do so with the full knowledge that they're saving you, and any help they give--no matter how half-hearted it may be--is strictly voluntary and worthy of your gratitude. (In other words, add the ingredients for all of their favorite treats to your next grocery list, honey, and get baking!) Speaking of groceries, the pantry and fridge aren't going to stock themselves. Chop, chop!
- Forget "me" time. Hobbies are for selfish people who spout maxims like, "You can't feed someone from an empty bowl." You won't have any bowls at all if you don't unload and re-stack that dishwasher, pronto. Anyway, speaking of bowls, what's more rewarding than seeing those bags under your eyes reflected in that sparking toilet? Nothing.
- If you need more motivation, allow yourself five minutes to go on social media (for research, not for fun), so you can compare yourself to all of the women out there who have it figured out. Do you see clutter in the background of the photos of their precious darlings as they craft their homemade seasonal decor? No. Because your peers have their priorities in order... unlike some people (ahem).
- Do it all with a smile. Every job is more enjoyable when you're smiling.
Let's face it, folks: people with vaginas are simply better at scrubbing, folding, tidying, and organizing. It's science.***** So ladies, what are you waiting for? Those nearly-identical-but-not-quite white socks from this week's laundry aren't going to mate themselves. (See #4's handy tip for making this step easier.)
Now where are my pearls and heels? I need to clean the oven.
*I was going to link to the blog post that triggered my ire... this time... but I don't want to be responsible for any other exploding heads. Mine was bad enough. Just trust me. It's out there. In 2015. With more two-income households--by necessity--than ever. Also, a quicker, easier way to make your head explode is to Google quotes for "messy or clean house" and see how EVERYTHING is centered around women and features pictures of women. "A good MOM has sticky floors." (And good DADS have shaggy lawns and dirty cars... I'm not kidding!!!!) "Dull WOMEN have clean houses." REALLY???? REALLY??? What effing year is this??????? KA-BOOOOOOM! SPLAT!!!!!!!
**If it so happens that the division of labor falls along more "traditional" (I hate that word) gender roles in your household, and everyone's happy with that, GREAT! That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the assumption that women clean the house, no matter what else they do to support their household, simply because they're women. THAT is wrong. And I will be a sanctimonious a-hole on that issue every. single. time.
***Not that I take him for granted, especially now that I'm fully aware it's somehow acceptable, even nowadays, for penis-bearing people to simply opt out of basic household chores. I'm ever so grateful I didn't get stuck with one of those guys.
****Okay, the title's a little long, but I felt specificity was important.
*****Not a scientific finding AT ALL. Also, I don't know what same-sex partners do. Maybe some can chime in here and tell us how they manage to display blatant sexism in their households. I suppose women have to rock-paper-scissors each other for the privilege of cleaning out the litterbox, and men... Well... both are off the hook? Must be nice!
When I'm not writing sarcastic, disdainful rants, I'm cleaning my house. JUST KIDDING! I do write books, though. Lots of them. All the time. You can find my entire catalog right here on this site. My latest, Out of My League, released in October, and I'm currently working on three other novels, which I hope to release in 2016. If I'm not dead by then. Thanks for reading!