I have a confession to make. I am not a good housekeeper.
No, very far from it. If any of you were to choose to eat your dinner from my floor, you would necessarily ingest a large quantity of dust and some few cat hairs. My children, both neater and tidier than I, have been known to look at the kitchen and expostulate, “Mummy – you could catch Ebola in here!” When I told them that you cannot catch Ebola from a dirty kitchen floor, the response was, “Well, Chlamydia, then!” I gave up the argument at that point and gave thanks that neither of them is considering a career in healthcare.
There always seems to be something far more interesting to do than housework. After all, it will still be there tomorrow. I haven’t quite got the stage of my Quentin Crisp, who famously said, “There is no need to do any housework at all; after four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse,” but I have considered putting a sign up with the words, “You may write in the dust by all means, but please don’t date it.”
One of the most glorious aspects of this lockdown is that I do not have to consider, “What if someone visits?” Nobody will come calling. I can have the house chaotically untidy and nobody outside the family will know anything at all.
Except you, of course. I’ve just told you.
There is, however, a problem with this philosophy. Even though I am not good at housework and become easily distracted from it, I find it vastly preferable to have a clean and tidy house.
My elder daughter has taken on the job of cleaning the bathrooms and my younger does the vacuuming, but everything else is still down to me.
I have been walking through our living room for weeks now and noticing the dust on the TV table. Every time I walked past it, I felt a twang of annoyance, but I didn’t do anything about it.
What prompted it was nothing to do with the dust; it was putting on my dressing gown and noticing, for the four-hundredth and seventy-second time, that it could really do with a tie on the inside to keep it from sliding open, even when belted.
This thought came together with a piece of wisdom from a team meeting last week, “If you just accomplish one thing every day, no matter how small, you can feel pride in that one thing.”
It was only a little thing, but I sewed a ribbon into my dressing gown. It won’t slide open now. One recurring petty annoyance in my life – gone.
I dusted the TV table and it’s shiny now. I feel happy when I walk past.
And I washed the kitchen floor.
All of those were small things and none of them took very long. But the niggles they presented have gone.
And it feels good.
A Moodscope member.