Those Constant Little Niggles

26 May 2020
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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.

Until yesterday.

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.

Mary

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Daisy

May 27, 2020, 4:37 a.m.

Dear Mary well done! Thank you for the interesting blog- for me it is admin that is the boggle I don’t do. The amount of time I spend thinking about the form or email or phone call is far greater than the feat. You must be proud of your house clean take xare

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Cathy

May 27, 2020, 5:18 a.m.

Daisy, I hate admin too but what a relief when it’s all done. I recently bought lots of new files to encourage me to organise my paperwork and I have managed to do some but it’s never-ending. However I’ve discovered that loud rock music helps as it energises me into filing so it might work for you!! Best of luck Cathy

Cathy

May 27, 2020, 5:18 a.m.

Daisy, I hate admin too but what a relief when it’s all done. I recently bought lots of new files to encourage me to organise my paperwork and I have managed to do some but it’s never-ending. However I’ve discovered that loud rock music helps as it energises me into filing so it might work for you!! Best of luck Cathy

Nicco

May 27, 2020, 9:37 a.m.

I, too, hate paperwork - the pile in my in-tray (top one of course so it can go as high as it wants) is making it bow to almost breaking point - several years' worth in there so it can't all be that important as life has continued without my dealing with it. It's probably mostly filing. *** knows why my career was secretarial (sevretary/pa) as i hate paperwork with a vengeance. I can't cope with any form of noise, including music, when attempting anything to do with the written word, but i do find it helps to energise me when doing (now occasional) housework.

Molly

May 27, 2020, 2:56 p.m.

Hi all, being a secretary/pa myself, I was so organised at work. At home, another matter. My boss’s affairs were all in order, but not my own! Now mostly done on the internet, I tend to keep on top of it but I still have that pile of paper that I don’t know what to do with. I have a filing case but if I attempt to file, I don’t get very far! Molly xx

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:34 p.m.

It's admin for me too, Daisy! ;)

Cathy

May 27, 2020, 5:15 a.m.

Mary I just had to reply to you on this as I feel exactly the same. Like you I look at all the things I should be doing in the house and when I achieve a dust-free surface or a tidy room I’m ecstatic. Since no one is visiting and it’s just us we do the bare minimum but recently I bought a Flash Speed Mop now I can clean the kitchen floor effortlessly and instantly and that feels great. I’ve also discovered that Cillit Bang cleans stainless steel jobs and sinks effortlessly and instantly too and that makes me feel good too. One thing a day that you achieve is a great advance so well done with your dressing gown. We always joke that we’re boosting our immune system living in our house as it’s not always spotlessly clean and before anyone visits we usually have a blitz and tidy up the living room and downstairs so it all looks great. I’ve also discovered several things I thought I’d lost in the process of tidying up and that makes me feel good too as I get very attached to things. Glad you’ve got some willing help in the house and that they don’t expect you to do everything yourself. I’ve also been putting things off if I felt I didn’t know how to do them but I’ve learned that if I take my time and really think about what I’m doing the impossible becomes possible and that practice really does become perfect. Thanks so much for this insight into your life and I hope you continue to get a little fillip from all your successes. Best of luck. Cathy.

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Valerie

May 27, 2020, 7:33 a.m.

Hi Cathy,I found by accident that a squirt of that low-calorie frying oil,buffed up,puts a nice protective coating on some stainless steel.x

Lexi

May 27, 2020, 2:04 p.m.

I am loving these cleaning tips! The two things I absolutely hate are washing floors and cleaning the stove top. I would do toilets 100 over before having to do those.

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:37 p.m.

A flash speed mop, eh? (Looks thoughtful...)

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:40 p.m.

And, I shall try your tip for my hob (catches autocorrect before it decides I meant job! ;) )

Cathy

May 27, 2020, 5:19 a.m.

Stainless shell jobs not jobs....doh.

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Cathy

May 27, 2020, 5:20 a.m.

hobs....

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greenjean

May 27, 2020, 5:49 a.m.

Hello Mary, how your blog resonates with me too! It’s not that I don’t like housework, but that other things always take me away from it. Especially the garden which is somehow so much more rewarding. My sister gave me a fridge magnet which says ‘*** sent rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done’ ... Well in the past 2 months there have been very few rainy days with this beautiful weather. When it did rain I managed to find sewing took priority. My dear hubby is good with the hoover & iron but things like the kitchen floor has been on my to do list every day for the past week. As you say, lockdown has meant the joy of visitors has taken away the urgency to have a clean up. Housework will always be there, it doesn’t go off - my philosophy is as long as the toilet & sinks are clean the rest can wait. I see another sunny day gardening beckoning. Thanks Mary for an amusing thought on housework!

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:42 p.m.

And no rain for a fortnight. The garden needs that care, attention and watering far more than your house needs to be cleaned!?

Oli

May 27, 2020, 6:12 a.m.

One of the things lockdown finally achieved was a Spring clean of my living room. I cleaned it solely because new people were coming into my home every day. I’m not a Government exception (ahem); people were seeing my home via video calls. When I did the first video tests I could see mess in every shot. Funny what you don’t notice till you look with a new pair of eyes. And yesterday I finally cleaned my tiny kitchen. Perfect. Till I noticed this morning that I’d piled some stuff on top of the cooker, ******! I’ll do it after I’ve written this. Mary, I agree: it feels good. I’d put it off for far too long. This is a difficult paragraph. I believe it’s based in evidence but it might touch raw nerves. Putting tasks off is the same as problem drinking, the same as agoraphobia, the same as anxiety, the same as social isolation, and I strongly suspect it’s the same as depression but I can’t speak directly with that one. On the surface all these things look very different but under the surface they all seem to be driven by the same process. Namely, avoiding difficult thoughts and feelings. If you avoid something that’s difficult you get instant relief. All of those things share a pattern where you’re rewarded with instant relief by avoiding the painful thing. But by finally accepting the difficult thing and doing something about it you get something that connects deeper than quick relief. I don’t think that’s the whole story — I’m only considering the behavioural components of these problems (but remember I tend to lump “thinking” in with behaviour (I.e. thinking is something we DO, habitually, it’s verbal behaviour) — but it’s a pattern. Thank you for the stimulating blog Mary. It helps clarify my thoughts.

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Molly

May 27, 2020, 1:34 p.m.

Hi Oli, I’m surprised at your ‘difficult paragraph’. Putting off tasks is not an illness and not comparable at all with what you mention here.

Oli

May 27, 2020, 2:08 p.m.

Hi Molly, I know most people’s direct and lived experience is that those things are completely unalike. Here’s the thought: on the surface they look so different. They currently have different sections in diagnostic manuals. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. (Procrastination can be debilitating and suck all the joy from life too though if severe enough.) However, there is a growing pile of research in behavioural psychology that these seemingly very different types of illness share the same underlying process. (Experiential avoidance.) There’s nowhere near enough space to do the idea justice here but I’m putting it out there for those who are drawn towards this way of thinking. xx

Oli

May 27, 2020, 3:11 p.m.

Perhaps this: Heart attacks, strokes and (some types of) dementia look very, very different. You would think they are so different there isn’t any comparison. But we now know there’s an underlying process (vascular disease) which can be a factor in all of these things. That was a new way of thinking about that type of health. That’s basically what I’m pointing at: these mental presentations look incomparably different but could there be something which underlies them all? It’s looking that way.

Patty

May 27, 2020, 3:13 p.m.

actually Oli. I can actually be that way. But, I don't think that is necessarily always the reason behind not cleaning. There are sometimes other things that take precedence as well.

Molly

May 27, 2020, 4:30 p.m.

I totally disagree Oli, you are doing the classic thing where physical illness is more recognised than mental illness. I can assure you that my depression, anxiety, and agoraphobia is totally different to not feeling like doing jobs around the house. It’s not a case of avoidance, if it was, I would do it. The dusting can wait, but my depression won’t wait. It seems you are suggesting that we have control over such things.

Oli

May 27, 2020, 5:05 p.m.

Control is the problem Molly. I definitely don’t think control helps; I don’t even think it’s possible. When did trying to control your depression help? What about when I was in a serious pickle and I was supposed to control my drinking? Addiction is not possible to control when you're living inside it. Or my anxiety? I tried controlling my anxiety till the thing burst open and overwhelmed me. This is absolutely not about control. (But what if my addiction and my anxiety shared the same underlying process?) How did I manage my feelings of loneliness? Well, I avoided them. I didn’t like them and I wanted them to go away, and I couldn’t control them but I could *avoid* the experience with alcohol. How did I manage my feelings of anxiety? I *avoided* every situation where the anxiety would appear. How did my friend’s daughter manage the **** of her compulsive behaviours? She avoided all situations which contaminated her. But when that failed and she was “contaminated” she scrubbed till she bled to *avoid* the feelings she hated. The avoidance is in our response. I’m thinking of a friend with agoraphobia who manages her feelings of panic by, guess you’ve guessed it, by avoiding the situations which cause it. Molly, thank you for replying. Even if we don’t agree, (and *** this is a controversial stance, I know), I hope you know I don’t mean — “we choose this and we can control it”. xx

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:48 p.m.

I can see your logic, Oli. I think maybe there are different forms of procrastination but I know some of my "problem" behaviours come about through trying to avoid unpleasant emotions. In my case, there's a huge amount of anger I don't want to acknowledge and deal with. And beyond that anger, feelings of rejection - and beyond that, feelings of worthlessness... Oh gosh, that's deep! So much to think about, but you definitely have something there...

Ach UK

May 27, 2020, 8:09 p.m.

Hi Oli, I'm late to this blog and there's an annoying mosquito at the end so just to say I'm with you on your thoughts about the similarities on the processes of procrastination whatever the subjects. And also if I may, I'll slip in here a Thank you to Mary for a most amusing and practical blog. Found myself singing " Flash . . Ah--Hah . . . Cleans up the impossible ". . . . I couldn't find the brilliant white standard poodle tho, Only my over-heated moggy underneath the garden bench stretched out in the shade. Stay safe all. XX Ach.

Molly

May 27, 2020, 8:33 p.m.

Am I the annoying mosquito?

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:38 p.m.

No, Molly, love - not you- one of those "let me tell you about an amazing magic spell" spammers.

Molly

May 28, 2020, 12:52 a.m.

Thanks for clarifying Mary. Oli, I am obviously not on your wavelength today as usually I know where you are coming from. Let’s take agoraphobia for an example. I haven’t avoided it because I have HAD to go out and deal with things. It’s not been easy at all for me. I don’t sit in my chair and say ‘I can’t leave the house and therefore I’m not going to’. I did it, for the sake of my husband. When I had the dogs, I didn’t say to them “you are not getting a walk today because I can’t leave the house”. They got their walk come rain or shine. And we can then bring anxiety into it. Yes I suffered severe anxiety at times having to leave the house. I didn’t avoid it though. I went to hospital appointments for either me or my husband. I stayed in a hotel on my own when he had an operation that wasn’t local. Your theory to the blog appears to be that if you don’t feel like doing the dusting, there must be an avoidance issue or a phobia or a problem. I’m allergic to dust anyway. I’m allergic to life as it happens. But I don’t avoid it, I carry on with it. I’m allergic to cats too but it won’t stop me stroking one. I will suffer the consequences of that. I think you turned a light hearted blog into something quite ‘avoidable’.

Ach UK

May 28, 2020, 4:46 p.m.

No Mollie not you at all. Just some magic person on the wrong wavelength. HUGS Molly you make perfect sense to me. XX Ach.

Molly

May 28, 2020, 4:58 p.m.

Thank you Ach xx

Sally

May 27, 2020, 6:50 a.m.

Hello Mary, I’m definitely a “My house was clean last week, sorry you missed it!” Sort of person. I made great efforts in the first days of lockdown to keep on top of housework , well, some housework. But I’ve since slipped. My only tip here is to start with something small...cleaning the sink, and to work outwards .I generally find that leads to a bit more( the worktops) and a bit more. There is satisfaction in accomplishing the tiniest task. Thank you for your honest blog. I suppose I tend to compare my housekeeping with people I know who excel at it. There’s a happy medium somewhere.

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:50 p.m.

You have much in common with the Flylady, who recommends you start with a shiny kitchen sink! It's a small step, but a meaningful one.

Dido

May 27, 2020, 6:58 a.m.

good blog Mary, it's how to get out of the stuppour I find myself in. Watering the garden is one thing that needs to be done and is a strong enough driver to get me moving .

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:51 p.m.

It certainly does need watering! A very dry May.

Liz

May 27, 2020, 7:15 a.m.

Hi Mary thank you for your blog. When I was a housekeeper in between doing jobs that I preferred, I became obsessed. When I left them I became rebellious. You see with all three it involved nitpicking my work. I got home and I cleaned. It stayed with me and I became slightly obsessed . I worked three different places - a holiday place for disabled guests with THE most picky head housekeeper. I loved it when I was left on my own for two days. She was patronising in the extreme and blunt. The second was for a hotel up here with posh guests but behind the scenes they were being ripped off and I was advised (by the Housekeeping Manager who had been trained by another better known hotel chain) to wipe down the floors and toilets with the hand towels (I kid you not). Dreadful job. Minimum wage and working with a***holes. That included the management. And occasional bullying guests although I was not party to it at the one time I was on holiday and one of my colleagues got the worst guest who barricaded her into a room effing and jeffing. I would have loved to have seen him try that with me! Third role I worked for a "lady". I had to iron her top bed linen. Treated with disdain. Stood up for myself as she was a tyrant and a bully although occasionally charming. The experiences have not been good. Now I am defiantly wonderfully rebellious. If people come to stay (which they did regularly before lockdown) I would be slavish with the cleaning until I realised they came to see us and relax. Now I just drift past the rooms and if I feel like doing it I will. My only thing is I have to have a clean kitchen and the downstairs toilet and upstairs bathroom have to be clean. We have a pooch here and there are black hairs everywhere and little footprints. And I wouldn't have it any other way!! x I should say also down South where we used to live and when I was between jobs I had a month again in housekeeping. The awful wife of the manager whose house we used to clean for "free" said that she would not pay for what I had done, all because I had put back the things where they were - she didn't know if they had been cleaned or not because they hadn't been moved. A cushion-plumper extraordinaire and clearly a huge snob to boot. It's at times like these that I wish on my last day I had dumped in her toilet had I had the opportunity to do so - and left it there for the lazy cow to do herself!! x enjoyed that rant... thank you.

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Valerie

May 27, 2020, 7:37 a.m.

Hi Liz,I had a stint of working as a chambermaid in a rather run-down tourist hotel in London.I have also worked in dog kennels mucking out.I know which I preferred,people can be disgusting! xx

Liz

May 27, 2020, 11:55 a.m.

You are not wrong there Valerie... their behaviour and their habits!! xx

Molly

May 27, 2020, 1:24 p.m.

Oh Liz, your last sentence! Xx

Nicco

May 27, 2020, 3:48 p.m.

Liz, if you'd have put the things back differently she would have moaned as well! I know from experience there's no pleasing some people. I worked & was trained as a chamber maid in a hotel when i was 14 yrs old (the same hotel my mother worked in & the same job she used to do & i used to go with her during the Summer Holidays when i was at school so i knew the job inside out & backwards). That training stood me in good stead over the years, especially when i gave up my secretarial career when i worked for six households later on when i had my daughter & she was of school age so i could work around her school hours. Some people can be very grateful, some no matter what you do it's wrong or they expect you to do more & more. On the whole i enjoyed it but had to stop when i got ill with a very bad relapse of ME which put me in bed for three years. The training i mentioned, however, has got me in hot water too as i've been told by my own family that i'm too thorough, too picky, & want things too perfect when i'm cleaning. As i've got older & notice a gradual decline in my various ailments, i've relaxed some of my previously high standards & cleaning is now done on a strictly need-to basis as it can br a bit like painting the Fourth Bridge - especially now my other half has retired & lives at home 24/7 & his idea of 'clean & tidy' isn't necessarily mine, although he is very handy with the hoover & the iron & fully au fait with the washing machine & microwave oven! I enjoyed your 'rant', Liz, as it brought back memories & made me smile!

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 5:57 p.m.

I have had a cleaner in the past, but although I am not one of those nightmare employers who complains and cares, I have never found a cleaner who cleans to my standard. And - I don't feel my standard is particularly high. I don't like paying for somebody to do a job worse than I would do myself. But - just how do you get rid of the brown stains in a lavatory? You can temporarily get rid of them with bleach, but they come back. I have heard that professionals empty out all the water in the bowl - using a yoghurt pot - and then scrub with lime scale remover. Does that work?

Molly

May 28, 2020, 1:01 a.m.

There is a strong cleaner you can get but I can’t remember the name of it. A friend did mine as I couldn’t budge some stains, he worked in the business so had all the proper equipment. Maybe worth a google on it. They don’t make toilets like they used to, I don’t remember having these issues a few years back!

Valerie

May 27, 2020, 7:48 a.m.

Hello Mary, I have been known to wear a skirt or bra mended with a safety pin as an emergency,with the pin still there years later.Always having dogs sprawled everywhere means I dread casual unexpected visitors.Sometimes I walk in from the fresh air and it hits me-damp dog and urine-nice.We have a serious type of carpet cleaning machine,and buy industrial quantities of shampoo,but still it lingers.The beagle has her own peculiarly nasty body odour,like vomit.I sometimes give her a blast with Febreze,if I can catch her.Great blog,love to hear from the secret sisterhood of slobs.xx

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Lexi

May 27, 2020, 2:09 p.m.

Valerie...febreze the dog...lol xo

Valerie

May 27, 2020, 2:21 p.m.

I have been known to give Spock a blast as well!

Molly

May 27, 2020, 4:57 p.m.

Ha ha Val, you are a card xx

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:23 p.m.

I am familiar with the permanent "temporary" repair!

Lex

May 27, 2020, 8:03 a.m.

It is such a powerful pair of glasses to view the world through, Mary, "What have I done well today?" I hope you never turn into a domestic goddess, but I do hope you continue to feel uplifted by each 'victory' on the way to creating a life you love more and more.

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Patty

May 27, 2020, 3:18 p.m.

I like that Lex.

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:24 p.m.

I don't know about domestic, but I'd quite to be a goddess...

Alice in Brockwell Park

May 27, 2020, 8:39 a.m.

I couldn't agree more. Lockdown has meant I'm busier than ever (I live on a boat, and have to handwash my smalls now... etc). Since we don't go out to pubs and restaurants though, I have had to make the living environment work better. I have made an effort to tackle "micro stresses", so I reorganised the kitchen to work better for hot weather and guess what? It worked, life is easier and smoother. And then I went on to tackle microstresses at work. And then I did more improvements to the kitchen. Fly screen sarong, anyone? I thank you. I've asked for help on facebook/whatsapp and got it, I've asked for help from neighbours and got it, and we're just now getting to the point where my partner and I can ask for help from each other without growling. As sugru branding says: "fix that thing"!

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Molly

May 27, 2020, 1:43 p.m.

How lovely to live on a boat ! Xx

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:26 p.m.

That's lovely. Really uplifting to hear how just making one thing better, then another thing, really helps.

Alice in Brockwell Park

May 27, 2020, 9:15 p.m.

it's lovely sometimes. everyone asks if it's cold in winter. no-one ever asks if it's hot. It's really hot. I spend half my time putting towels over windows so that I can see my computer... :) -- Mary my current theory is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and planting them as firmly as possible x

Molly

May 28, 2020, 1:50 a.m.

But Alice, is it cold in winter!!!!

Sue

May 27, 2020, 8:50 a.m.

Quite agree Mary, does anybody enjoy housework? At the start of lockdown I decided to create a routine which included one housework item I had been putting off. It worked well, cupboards have been cleared, skin care and make up sorted (and some binned). Then I stopped deciding what to do the day before and things slipped. Oh well, no-one is visiting to inspect, but it did feel good to get some of these things done.

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:29 p.m.

Some people, I know, find housework theraputic. They also value highly having a living space that is attractive, so find attending to that space as satisfying as other people find gardening. It's about priorities, I suppose.

Ruth

May 27, 2020, 8:59 a.m.

Being proud of the one thing you accomplish. I like that. I will remember it. XX

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The Gardener

May 27, 2020, 9:29 a.m.

I have no 'little' niggles, just one big one - inability to concentrate. Basic 'musts' kitchen and bedroom, my havens, you can't have an untidy haven, because untidiness provokes restlessness. My gardening antics are OTT, so strict watering rota in heat vital. Otherwise, I move to big garden, comfort, shade, crochet, puzzles, old Punch magazines and can't spend more than 10 minutes on anything. But I am devouring books, Angela's Ashes again, so good. The story of Esther Costello (Nicolas Monserrat, such good stories). Thanks Mary xx

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:40 p.m.

I have avoided Angela's Ashes... it always sounds a very gloomy book. But maybe I'm wrong...

Lyn

May 27, 2020, 9:38 a.m.

You hit the button Mary. It is the daily little niggles that gets to you just as you describe. Small things like a missing button on a blouse, a pair of shoes waiting to be cleaned, a driving licence that needs renewing which has been sitting around for weeks, emails that should have been answered. I know what joy it must have been for you to finally sew that ribbon into your dressing gown. I am waiting for that rainy day but I have to go back in the garden today to finish preparing my vegetable patch, then there is weeding and pruning......

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:31 p.m.

Ah yes, I meant to prune the lilac bush today but other things got in the way. Tomorrow, I hope.

Lupin

May 27, 2020, 9:40 a.m.

I tend to live in apparent chaos, but I know where everything is, though my phone seems to end up in the cutlery drawer quite regularly. I have been chastised my whole life for what others see as my laziness and mess, and used to feel shame about it. Now I think it is simply different priorities. My kitchen is awash with sourdough culture, Kefir and elderflower champagne currently and I love the creativity and giving away the bread and cultures. I have visited friend's houses where they are so busy wiping down surfaces and whisking cups away from guests, that there is no time for real interchange and communion. I would not dream of saying 'How can you live like this?' to them but they feel no such compunction towards me and my choices. I used to shrivel with hurt at such comments and the bossy attempts to tidy me up, but now I stand up for myself and challenge their conformist assumptions, that they are somehow morally better in their self-righteous zeal for order and officious use of bleach. I will not have bleach in the house; its smell reminds me too much of my mother...

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Patty

May 27, 2020, 3:24 p.m.

I agree. Spending so much time on constant cleaning makes me think people are missing out on living and I know people who want to take your plates before you're done and clean up. I don't feel that way and hate it.

Nicco

May 27, 2020, 4:56 p.m.

I've always maintained the idea that people should live the way they want in their houses. I think this was born out of the fact that my mother - & her mother - were absolute clean freaks & so was i when i got married. They judged people's worth on the cleanliness & tidiness if their home environments so i made sure mine was scrupulous. They had some weird rules which i had to adhere to which i've spoken about here before & which i think played a part in shaping my evolving views. Some things are personal - like the choice of husband, politics, etc., & i think it includes one's living environment - what one will put up with, another can't/wont & that's everyone's perogative.

Molly

May 27, 2020, 5:15 p.m.

I remember that my step mum did the dusting on a Tuesday and a Thursday. I questioned her once about it. She said if you don’t have a routine, you don’t get anything done. I can’t remember how old I was then. I do remember in my early twenties doing my housework on a Friday evening after work before I went out clubbing, ha ha, so it was done for the weekend! Molly xx

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:36 p.m.

I find some perfectly tidy houses unwelcoming. I remember the lovely house of my music teacher - a messy kitchen with cats (never less than four) in unexpected places; something always baking in the oven and people always dropping in for a cup of tea and a gossip. I'm sure it wasnt that clean, and it was certainly chaotically untidy, but Ioved it!

Molly

May 28, 2020, 1:26 a.m.

I can visualise the house of your music teacher. What is it about teachers? I should not stereotype I know. But some seem totally eccentric. Or they did in my day.

Orangeblossom

May 27, 2020, 1:47 p.m.

Hi Mary thanks for the blog. I fully identified with it and found your final comment helpful .

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Lexi

May 27, 2020, 2:11 p.m.

Me and housecleaning...when this whole shelter in place started I put a mop in my amazon cart...three months on and it's still in the cart...I'll leave it right there. xo

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:42 p.m.

I am imagining a cart with a solitary lonely mop inside, waiting for a checkout which, like Godot, never comes!

Molly

May 27, 2020, 2:43 p.m.

Hi Mary Gosh, housework, what a pain, thing is It keeps coming back. I think one has to clean every single day To keep on top of it. It’s such a good mindset to do just that one thing. I wrote myself a note to water my plant. It probably took me longer to write the note than just do it. I keep the kitchen and toilet clean, an effort in itself. I keep up with washing clothes (putting them away is another matter!) I run the hoover round, Not as thoroughly as I would like, all laminated flooring downstairs so that needs a good clean. Upstairs has been neglected because I literally just go up there to sleep, on my own, so I haven’t even changed the bedding. I think that is the job I hate the most! When I wake up, I have all good intentions. I tried to change my mindset from beating myself up about it, to ‘there will always be things to do’. As in, I can’t ever get bored! My mother’s house is perfection. But it’s cold. No love or living there. I daren’t even breathe in it. Although during lockdown she won’t let anyone through the door anyway, in case they breathe in it!!! Ha ha. I worry all the time that she judges me, and she does.... she used to do a bit of cleaning for me (she loves cleaning). But I would get a running commentary. We both smoke. I’m a light smoker but husband is a heavy smoker, especially now he’s so bored. This creates much more cleaning. It’s shocking when you see things change colour before your very eyes! Thanks for the blog Mary, many will relate, including the satisfaction that comes from completing a task! Molly xx

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Patty

May 27, 2020, 3:28 p.m.

enjoyed all these posts today. Makes me realize I am not alone in not living to clean. Rather be creative.

Nicco

May 27, 2020, 5:23 p.m.

Agree, Molly - sinks, toilet(s) & kitchen are probably the most important. And i now need help to change the bed sheets - an awful job. Gee, when i think back... i'd think nothing of cleaning the whole house top to bottom, including turning & hoovering the mattresses, doing the washing & previous week's ironing, & then digging all the flower beds & mowing the lawns all on Saturdays after a full week's work (including commute), so that i could do the obligatory family visiting on Sundays on virtual (unspoken) pain of death, esp from my husband's mother & their family. If i knew then what i know now, & if i could turn back time...

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:46 p.m.

Agreeing here too. So long as my kitchen sink and surfaces are clean and my bathroom, then I'm pretty okay with that. What I'm hearing here is more about other people's judgements and expectations. Those are the root of our uneasiness around this subject.

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:48 p.m.

Oh, and Molly, changing bedding alone is an almost unmanageable task! You have my sympathies and understanding.

Molly

May 27, 2020, 9:08 p.m.

Hi Patty and Nicco. I think we often look back and think we did things better then but we probably didn’t. That’s what I try and tell myself anyway xx

Molly

May 28, 2020, 1:20 a.m.

Thanks Mary, such a ****** aren’t they! Xx

Patricia E

May 27, 2020, 3:50 p.m.

Doing those things that make living more comfortable - you'd like to think that you'd just get on and do them, because they make living more comfortable, but to my mind, household tasks are especially heavily loaded with ancient baggage and an overdose of shoulds and oughts. My mum was a superb housekeeper. I was born at the end of the fifties and my childhood was a very regulated existence. I knew what day of the week it was by a) what household task mum was doing and b) what we were having for dinner. Dad had the same cooked breakfast every weekday morning and his dinner was on the table ( slippers warmed by the fire throughout the winter) when he returned from work at 6 p.m. So I've resisted routine and housekeeping and fetching and carrying for anyone all my life! But, it's brilliant when any of those jobs get ticked off the list. And I love the smell of polish and of freshly washed sheets that have dried in the sun, and a lovely clean sink and so on and so one. It's taken very many years, but I am finally happy to accept that in very many ways I'm very much my mother's daughter!

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Molly

May 27, 2020, 4:52 p.m.

Hi Patricia. I guess we get a few tips from our mothers that stick with us. But I have to cringe at the fact that mothers do everything for their husbands. My mother is ruled by her husband. I rarely ring her as the time will not be right, if she is contending to his needs. Either that or he moans in the background. So I wait for her to call me. I have to wait on my husband but that’s because he can’t do anything for himself but he doesn’t dictate it and he fully appreciates it. Slippers by the fire and cooked breakfast every day!! Lucky man!! Xx

Nicco

May 27, 2020, 5:30 p.m.

Molly, i have to agree. I once let slip to my husband's mother (she was never MY mother - in law or in anything else) that my husband put the washing out. If looks could have killed (never did get used to those looks). She said, "Well! I'd NEVER let a husband of mine do such a thing". I remember thinking (& wished i'd have said but knew if i'd have upset her i would have incurred my husband's wrath) as he scared whitless of her, 'Well, more fool you!'

Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:55 p.m.

I cook my husband breakfast - but as a nice loving thing I can do for him, rather than because he expects it. He is appreciative. And I send my children off to school* with a cooked breakfast too. I want them to have those good memories of being loved. Some people think I'm making myself a slave to them, but I don't agree; I just think it's a nice thing to do -and I feel good doing it. * not right now, obviously

Molly

May 28, 2020, 1:36 a.m.

Blimey Nicco. I guess I had similar with my ex’s mum, maybe not on that scale, but he was certainly tied to her apron springs. Didn’t do him any favours in life really! My husbands mum on the contrary, would say to me ‘oh men!’ I loved her for that xx

Molly

May 28, 2020, 1:47 a.m.

Mary, there is nothing wrong with that, it’s admirable if you have the time and inclination to do it. It’s just when some men expect it, I can’t be doing with all of that. A man wouldn’t last five minutes in my house if he expected a breakfast and dinner put in front of him at certain times of the day. As for the kids, I completely agree, memories are precious. I have good and bad memories (we probably all do) but one thing I have been thinking about lately is the huge impact it does have for many years to come. We always had corned beef, mash and beans on a Saturday lunchtime! Oh and a fry up on a Sunday! Molly xx

Nicco

May 27, 2020, 5:53 p.m.

Thank you for your blog, Mary. It brought memories, & i'm glad i'm not the only one who has let things slip a little during this enforced different way of living - it makes me feel less alone & more 'normal'. Yes, i must admit i've let things slip, but i think that's actually healthy for me. At the grand old age of 60 & several years since my mother passed away, i can finally say i no longer think dust is the enemy!

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:55 p.m.

Dust bunnies are cute!

Mj

May 27, 2020, 6:09 p.m.

Best Moodscope blog I've ever read--ever! Thank you. By the way, you would feel quite comfortable in my home. Cat hair, dust, all of it. Thanks Mary.

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Mary Wednesday

May 27, 2020, 8:57 p.m.

Thank you for that lovely comment, Mj. I am imagining a comfortable visit right now! :)

Lupin

May 28, 2020, 12:50 a.m.

I just want to re-iterate that we could usefully drop external judgement on our adherence to 1950s housewifery. And that judgement is extremely patriarchal. How women are judged on the cleanliness of their house before all else. Still! Now! And no, Oli it's not about us being procrastinators or addicts; it's about it not being at all important in the overall scheme of things. We are all here to live and develop and evolve; not to slave and battle with dust and grime unless we want to, nor to make loads of money and be a success in filthy lucre terms. Our gender shouldn't matter, we shouldn't accrete positives or negatives based on our ability to fight with supposed germs and dirt, nor win in a cut-throat business environment. Both of which are still extremely gendered currently. And need not to be. Perhaps we should all do a spell for equality, liberty and fraternity and politely request foolish misguided people to stay off the site, unless they have the capacity to listen and take in the wisdom that is here and stop peddling exploitative rubbish spells....

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Catherine

May 28, 2020, 3:50 a.m.

Lots of really interesting comments and thoughts here. Thanks so much Mary. I have SO many things I feel I OUGHT or SHOULD or MUST do - lists everywhere. Lockdown seemed the ideal time to get on top of unpacking boxes from house move (9 years ago!), sorting clothes (FAR too many - can’t remember most of what I’ve got) and doing some thorough cleaning. But it just hasn’t happened. None of it! (Except keeping bathroom and kitchen clean if not tidy). I beat myself up with all those musts and shoulds and oughts that I was programmed with in childhood. I was talking with someone about my 'bucket list' of things I need to get done whilst we all have this extra time, and how utterly weary and unmotivated I feel, and we decided to rename my bucket list my (pardon the language) 'fuckit list’. Oh gosh I feel better now! I have actually done something I enjoy and could manage (I've got fibromyalgia, ME and multiple other physical issues [which are as nothing in comparison to mental health issues]- but I get lots more sympathy and empathy for the visible illnesses I have) But I’ve got out my sewing machine and beautiful Liberty fabrics and made face masks. I has brought me fleeting joy. And to those for whom I’ve made them. And that can only be good. And all the other things can wait....(And a vote for the Flash Speedmops from me..... ) xx

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Anonymous

May 28, 2020, 11:20 a.m.

Hi Mary, thanks for the tip about the ribbon and if your on Instagram you may just like the queen of cleaning mrshinchhome who has 3.4M followers called hinchers who share cleaning tips. I find a clean house makes me feel good and is part of my self care and maintains mental health too.

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