Right, so today I’m talking cleaning. Yes, cleaning and tidying and all that household nonsense. I realise that this may be risky, and you would be quite entitled to think, ‘what depths of banality will that woman not plumb?
But it feels like every time I chat to friends, we take a collective sigh when we think of the state of chaos into which our homes have descended. Over Lockdown I have looked around and often felt an acute sense of nausea. Granted, some of this has been my own fault. It was me, for example, who wanted a dog, despite knowing full well that it would lead to a messier home and less time to clean it because of pet related duties. I brought that on myself. I didn’t, however, bring about the triple whammy of home-schooling, my own work situation, and keeping a family clean, (ish) nourished (somewhat) and entertained (occasionally).
Some people are just naturally quite tidy. Neither my husband or myself fall into that category, and it would seem that our progeny follow suit, except they’re ten times worse, the little s**ts.
I’ve decided to accept that there’s more chance of Bernie Ecclestone making it to his child’s graduation ceremony than there is of me getting (and keeping) my whole house to an acceptable level: so instead I will just focus on a couple of areas. I need a some places where I can retreat without taking something akin to a panic attack.
Last year I visited a friend of mine and was upset to see that her living space was pristine and devoid of accumulated shite in all the corners. (VERY bad Feng Shui, apparently, cluttering your corners). She has two teenage boys, works full-time and owns a dog. I was affronted. I wondered briefly if we could still be friends.
‘How the f**k do you manage this?’ I asked.
‘The rest of the house is a bombshell,’ she said. ‘Don’t even think about going up the stairs.’
‘Phew,’ I thought to myself. ‘That’s the girl I know and love.’
If you’re short on time and jangly of nerves, my sagacious friend suggests, that you keep one area tidy, and make it the place where you spend most of your time. Like myself, my pal has a kitchen/dinner/den set-up, and all of it was lovely. My expectations aren’t that high. I can’t manage to keep my dining table clear, and a week after school has ended, it still groans under the weight of books, colouring paraphernalia and God knows what else. But I’m getting increasingly ratty with the children if they leave their truck around the living area, especially in the evening when I’m counting down the seconds until it’s unwind-on-the-sofa-time. Marie Kondo wouldn’t be standing for any of their nonsense.
Then there’s the island, where crockery jostles with bills and newspapers and wineglasses that don’t fit in the dishwasher. It is where hope comes to die. But we have decided to adopt a ‘clear island’ policy, and are trying to keep it clear. That way, if at least two surfaces are free of crap my nerves feel less ragged. So if the island is swept clean and the coffee table is home to nothing but a scented candle, I can just divert my eyes from the catastrophe that is the rest.
My policy in the front room is just to keep the door closed. I can’t bear it right now and I’m not venturing in for another week to start cleaning. The same goes for the downstairs bedroom. They are too awful to contemplate as the girls have annexed them as play areas and they are littered with their detritus: Lego, lots and lots of Lego.
Now I can’t possibly sign off without mentioning toilets. As you know, the Mothership is keen on inspecting the level of cleanliness of my toilets and then passing comment before donning gloves and reaching for the Domestos. I’ve never had much success with keeping the sheen of the bowl up to her lofty standards.
‘It’s coming that time,’ I said to LSB earlier. ‘Restrictions are lifting and she’ll be back in and may have a stroke when she sees sees the limescale situation upstairs. I don’t want that on my conscience.’
Now as I’ve mentioned in that past, Himself is a great fella for leaving the housework to me, but didn’t he get out his phone and start googling ‘Top Tips for Toilet Cleaning’. The next thing he was heading up the stairs armed with baking soda, vinegar and a scourer. I came back from a walk in Ormeau Park and the glean off the loo nearly blinded me. I think he felt that he had to atone for swilling pints most of the weekend, and so this cleaning spree was his penance. Either way, I’m not complaining: two clear surfaces and a sparkling toilet and it’s only Monday evening. And the pubs and eateries are open again. Hurrah.