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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Housekeeping Help for the Domestically Challenged

During the month of October I am participating in a Book in a Month challenge, which basically means there are a bunch of us completely deranged authors out there all trying to write an entire book in one month. I do these challenges every once in a while for the extra motivation, and it’s a great excuse to get out of icky stuff you don’t like to do. For me, that’s housework.

So, knowing I was going to do this challenge and knowing how much I hate to clean in the first place, I checked out three housecleaning books from the library.

The first book, One Minute Cleaner: Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin sounded intriguing and all, but it seemed they were really saying, “It takes one minute to read each of our tips, then 6 hours to implement that one tip”. Ok, to be fair there were things in there that only took a minute to do, and I tend to like books that tell me how to make my own cleaning agents, so it got plusses there. But, here’s the thing. I read through the book and 50% of the time I found myself thinking, “There’s no way I’d ever do that in a million years.” I mean, this book seemed to be put together just for the totally-housekeeping-fixated-happy-homemaker, which is so not me. Plus, it left way too much up to my feeble mind, like “make a plan for keeping your house clean.” Um, yeah, that’s kind of why I picked up the book, you know?

So, that title was pretty much out the window for me. It might work for a lot of other people but as you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m not exactly normal.

Next was Speed Cleaning 101 by Laura Dellutri. Again, it sounded good in theory. It had a few more “make it yourself” cleaning recipes and a few things I hadn’t ever though of to make some cleaning jobs easier. But, despite the title one of the very first chapters included the phrase: “Pick a one to two hour time slot for cleaning.” Ha! Sooo, not going to happen. I don’t think I could clean for two hours straight if the prophet were coming to visit.

(If you’re now thinking you will never come visit me in my home because you might not make it back out alive- you’re probably right, and I’m cool with that. There are much better things to do with my time. I’ll meet you at the library instead.)

I also had trouble following the set up of the book- if I looked closely enough, I could find 5-10 minute “Bare minimum” cleaning techniques for different rooms in the house, but they were smashed right up against the “this will take you 30-40 minutes” things. It made me very sad and frustrated that obviously I was more domestically challenged than I had originally thought. I mean this was the 2nd book that I threw up my hands at.

Then, I cracked open the third book and ta-da! There was my salvation, found in the pages of Dad’s Own Housekeeping Book by David Bowers. Here, finally, was a plain, simple, straight forward, no nonsense approach to housekeeping. Apparently I’m a guy.

Want proof? Here are a few things off of his “Things We Do- or Don’t Do- That Drive Our Wives Nuts” list that I do on a regular basis.

  • We put leftovers away in the pots we cooked them in.
  • We are much more likely to load the dishwasher than to unload it and put the clean dishes away.
  • We’re not big on wiping up the kitchen floor after making a cooking mess—in fact, we don’t even see it.
  • We don’t notice greasy handprints on cabinets, walls, the refrigerator door, switch plates—or anywhere else. (Note from Alison: Ok, to give myself a little credit- I do notice when it gets really bad, but I’m still pretty good as shrugging it off again.)
  • When we do the laundry, we rarely look under the bed or the coffee table to pick up balled-up socks or underwear.
  • We forget to empty pockets before tossing clothes into the washing machine.
  • We make the bed by pulling the duvet up over crumpled sheets.

Yep. That’s life in my house. It drove my husband nuts the first few years we were married. He’s gotten used to it now. ;)

Dad’s Own Housekeeping Book breaks things down for domestically impaired people like me. There are 5-minute “attack” cleaning methods for every room (except the kitchen- he still makes you take 30 minutes on it each day) that I can use to break up my writing day. I copied the 5 minute pages and put them on my kitchen counter, I just flip one over do it, done, and put it to the back of the stack. Even if I don’t get to anything else that day I know I did something and that’s all that counts for me.

Now you tell me. Where have you found your most useful “speed cleaning” techniques and routines?

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