Monday Listicles: Cleaning?

Today’s topic over at Northwest Mommy’s wonderful linkup, Wendy, aka the Twisted Domestic Goddess asked us to list 10 things we’d rather do than clean.

It could be a very short list:


I’d rather do anything rather than clean. But then that wouldn’t actually, exactly, be true. And it’s even less true now that I’ve hired a cleaning woman who comes in twice a week. Be still my beating heart, there is someone else sponging down the gritty counters and mopping the floor.

My mother never had a cleaning person – or, as she used to say, she was her cleaning person. Apparently she didn’t pay well and the job had no benefits, so on the days of “big” cleaning (mopping the floors, the bathrooms) we all tried very hard to steer clear.  What I realize now, looking back, is that we’re lucky she didn’t impale us all on the mop handles because we were so incredibly ungracious and unappreciative of her hard work.

Um, mom? I know it’s like two three decades late and many dollars short, but “thanks!”

She did, however, develop a serious incentive program to help us, her darling children, pick up our crap and stow it where it belonged. Our house was old and had a laundry chute running from the top floor down to the basement: clothes slid down the chute and landed in the (overflowing) hamper.  Whatever she found lying around–tennis racquet, algebra book, sweater, shoes, notebooks, toys–she would toss into the chute, so you’d have to go into the basement and root around in the dirty clothes in order to find your belongings. Sometimes things never surfaced. I suspect there was wildlife down there homeschooling their offspring with my French book, which went down the chute one day in 1980 and never re-appeared.

I digress. I don’t have a laundry chute (apartment dwellers–we’re a horizontal people) and I don’t have a good system for getting my sweet boys to pick up their crap and put it away, unless by “good system” you mean saying,  “put that away, please.” “Put that AWAY please.” “Pick that up PLEASE!” “PUT AWAY YOUR BACKPACK.”  To which the usual response is an eyeroll and a “well you don’t have to yell.”

So. Cleaning:

1. Cleaning can be what I call productive procrastination. Have to prepare for teaching tomorrow? Let’s do the laundry first. Need to work on an overdue article? First you should probably clean the stove burners.

2. I’m one of those people who has to clean the kitchen before she can start to cook; I tidy up my desk before I sit down to work. I like a clean slate, I guess you could say.

3. There’s a distinction between “tidying” and “cleaning.” I’m a tidier. I think that means that ultimately I’m pretty shallow: if the bed is made, who cares if there are dust mice the size of buffalo under the bed?

4. I make the bed. Always. Husband has almost left me over this compulsion I have. I hate to leave the house if I’ve not made the bed. Husband says, why? You’re just getting in it again later…And I know. It’s true. But if making the bed feels…orderly. And no less an expert than Gretchen Rubin, the Happiness Project lady, said once that making the bed in the morning is one of the tiny things that you can do to make yourself feel better about your life.  And who are we to argue with her?

5. I would rather watch an entire evening of Kevin Costner movies (including Waterworld) than mop the floor.  In my old New York apartment, my kitchen floor was about as big as a large dog, and even though mopping it took about six minutes, I would only break out the mop when I was in danger of becoming permanently stuck to the accumulated goo beneath my toes.

6.  On more than one occasion, I have cleaned the floors (bathrooms, kitchen) by putting damp towels on the ground and sliding them around with my feet.

7. If people are coming over and the house looks like its standard who-turned-the-building-over-and-shook-it-mess, I’ve shoved all the crap into a closet (or under the bed with the dust buffaloes), and squirted a little poof! of some cleaning fluid into the bathroom, to make it have that nice “clean room” smell (similar to the “new car” smell they spray into used cars when they’re trying to sell them).

I’m going to veer away from the standard ten-item list (what a rebel, right?) because I am going to make a confession here: I actually don’t mind cleaning. I mean, no, scrubbing toilets isn’t ever going to be my idea of a good time, but I like having things in order.  Maybe it’s because inside my head it’s really messy, with ideas and projects all bumping into one another, so I like my external surroundings to be as non-chaotic as I can get them. Most of the crap going on in the world I can’t control, but I can line up all those sneakers by the front door, dammit, and I can make my bed.

So sure, there are lots of things I’d rather do than clean–and I might have to draw the line at the Costner movies–but on the other hand, if my choice is chaos or mopping the floor?

I’d take the mop.


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11 Responses to Monday Listicles: Cleaning?

  1. Stasha February 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    I would rather watch back to back Caillou then Kevin Costner of Mel Gibson anything!! You know, I kinda feel inspired to go tidy something up after reading your list. I am sure that was not the point of this topic, so THANKS…

  2. Arnebya February 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I don’t particularly mind cleaning either (although you’d never know it by the look of my house). I can see what I’d like to have cleanliness-wise, but it’s oh so hard to actually GET THERE. So:

    If the kitchen is already flooded with dishes and I need to make dinner, I will wash just what I need. I’ll wash those dishes, um, later. Definitely done the impromptu towel squeegee w/feet thing. And I haven’t made my bed in so long I’m afraid to actually admit it. I am friends with the dust mites under the sofa and under the bed. They’ve been there so long I figure why tear apart families.

  3. Twisted Domestic Goddess February 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    ok I’ve so done the damp cloth on the floor thing SOOOOO many times! I love your list!Can I add I’d rather clean then watch any Liam Neeson movie though?(we saw the Grey this weekend and oh my gosh!)

    • Deborah Quinn February 25, 2012 at 2:14 am #

      Hmm… I’m thinking that having Liam in my apartment doing a little scrubadubdub might not be such a bad thing….hmm….maybe the two of us could, you know “damp mop” together. Heeheehee

  4. Varda (SquashedMom) February 22, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    I really really really hate cleaning. Yup. My dust bunnies can beat up your dust bunnies anytime.

    And speaking of Kevin Costner & Mel Gibson? There was one summer in NYC in the early 90’s when I was married to husband #1 & we lived in Stuy Town and there was no air conditioning & we had a major loooong heat wave. Weekdays weren’t a problem, we went off to air conditioned buildings. But weekends? We saw every movie that came out, the longer the better. And this was the summer of Waterworld AND Braveheart. I survived. Barely.

    • Deborah Quinn February 25, 2012 at 2:10 am #

      OMIGOD waterworld and braveheart in one summer? holy crap. i might rather sweat…of course, in those years I was in grad school and desperately poor – I used to refer to myself as a “freon whore,” because I’d pretty much befriend anyone who had AC in their apartment. Ha!

  5. Cookie's Mom February 22, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    I’m a tidier too. And I make the bed because then it’s nice and cozy when I get back in – I’m an anti-wrinkle sort of girl.

  6. Mama, Hear Me Roar February 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Between chaos and the mop, I’d take the mop anytime too. It’s a control thing, undoubtedly. Which has turned a bit ugly these days! “Put your shoes on the rack, YA HEAR?!” Sigh.

  7. Audrey February 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Ah great list! I am much more a tidier than cleaner 🙂 But I have to agree with your husband on the bed, why bother? 🙂 And I wish I had a laundry chute!

  8. Lady Jennie February 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Apartment buildings have trash chutes and that can be even more effective! 😉

    • Deborah Quinn February 25, 2012 at 2:02 am #

      You know, you raise an interesting possibility…I’m going to consider this the next time I step on a pile of legos. Thanks for the idea!

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