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A Clean Break

The unexpected side effects of housekeeping

by Florinda Pendley Vasquez  |  2685 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

When working moms talk about the things that sometimes get shortchanged in the "juggle," cleaning and housekeeping chores usually are pretty high on the list. Those that can outsource to a housekeeper often do, but for others, it's not really an option. In my case, I live in a three-bedroom apartment with no yard, and mystepkids only live with us part-time, so turning these tasks over to someone else is hard to justify.

Like many working couples, my husband and I tend to save cleaning for the weekends, when we have more time to deal with it. We try to keep up with what I refer to as "policing" (because I can't stand the word "decluttering") at least a few times a week; clearing off surfaces and putting things away, wiping down counters and sinks - that sort of thing. One thing I've noticed is that neat will often give the casual observer the same impression as clean, but as far as I'm concerned they're not the same thing. Unlike many apartment dwellers, we have a washer and dryer in our apartment, so it's convenient to do laundry any time, and one way or another it seems that we're in some stage of laundry-doing every other day (stuff in the washer to be moved to the dryer, stuff to be removed from the dryer and sorted, stuff to be put away) - and bless his heart, my husband does most of it. He feels responsible for the kids' laundry (I guess that's since they're his kids), he's picky about his shirts, and he's actually willing to iron. Dishes don't sit around - we use them, we wash them (or put them in the dishwasher, and run that when it gets full). But serious cleaning is an item for the weekend to-do list, and when it doesn't get done for more than a couple of weekends, I get restless.

My husband and I divide the household chores between us - maybe not 50-50, but neither of us feels overburdened - and that works out pretty well when it comes to cleaning, since we're both irritated by different things. He doesn't like dust, so vacuuming and dusting are his tasks. I don't like gummy sinks or sticky counters, so the bathrooms and kitchens are my territory.

I find cleaning those rooms to be more of an exercise in "pure" cleaning, since there's not usually much clutter to be sorted and removed first, especially not in the bathroom - we keep it pretty organized in there. I just come in with my supplies and get to the spraying, sponging, scrubbing, and mopping. It's the best kind of mindless task, in that it keeps me moving and physically engaged. And it provides prompt feedback - soap traces rinsed away, spots removed from mirrors,countertops shiny and not sticky - and evidence of accomplishment.

About the Author

Florinda is a wife, mother, stepmother, blogger, and accountant employed by a Southern California nonprofit agency.

Read more by Florinda Pendley Vasquez

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