In the last two weeks I’ve successfully added two more daily tasks. Hooray!
One is a kind of easier way of keeping the hard floors clean. I love my steam mop, but I’ve used it a total of once since Baby A arrived. I used to get it out on the weekend and steam everything in one go, and I think because that’s the association I have with it, it just seems too overwhelming now that I don’t have as much time. It doesn’t take that much time to set up really, so I think down the road I’ll phase it back in as more of a quick steam here and there thing.
But for now! Just keeping it simple and doable. I got one of those cheap mop things that you can attach a cloth to the bottom of and wipe the floor with. I thought that because I have daily floor brushing and a weekly vacuum, the hard floors could do with a weekly ‘mop’ on to of the daily sweep. I’m being a bit floor central – because it makes me feel better, but also I am concious that I will soon have Baby A crawling all over the place, and well, I guess that’s about my peace of mind too!
The other thing is a daily bench wipe down, including a number of ‘other’ surfaces. I’ve noticed that cleaning that needs to be done in order to continue with daily tasks is easier for me. For example laundry always gets done, because it has to. Cooking Baby As food always gets done. Wiping down the benches gets done, but wiping down other bits of the kitchen hasn’t been getting done because it doesn’t need to be done to continue functioning. So I’ve added a new daily task which includes wrong down the benches and 5 other kitchen surfaces. I wipe down anything that looks dirty and then anything else I haven’t wiped in a while. The motivation is again that Baby A likes to bang away and touch the cuoboards in the kitchen. I think it’s good that he gets a bit dirty and germy, but I’d prefer him not to be touching meat juice accidentally dripped on the cupboard from last night’s dinner!
One last thing, after realising that there is some purpose in looking at the past, I thought I would reflect a bit on why chores stress me out so much. I said in a previous post that I never had a problem with cleaning before Baby A came. I don’t think I ever had a problem getting chores done in my adult life, but I think I do have a long standing problem with cleaning.
It never occurred to me before, but we never had chores growing up. We were never asked to do any chores or shown how to do any chores. I remember doing my own laundry from early on because otherwise it wouldn’t get done. There was no laundry hamper though, I just collected the dirty ones off the floor of my room. My dad used to do his own daily chores quietly without bothering anyone. He never asked for help though. Sometimes he would hang my clothes out to dry during the day if I had put laundry on in the morning before school which was great.
My mother didn’t do daily chores. She cooked quite a bit, she thought her cooking was better than anyones and was very proud of it. For this reason she would mainly not let anyone else cook or help cook – once I got inspired to cooked a meal for our family, and she just complained that I was doing everything wrong and that it tasted horrible. (Needless to say I don’t cook much, but I’m working on that! Cooking for Baby A has been a really great introduction to coming for me.)
Her cleaning method is actually not unlike mine (unsurprisingly I suppose) – except that she would not do any cleaning for awhile and then if we had visitors or it was particularly untidy, she would spend an entire weekend making the house spotless. It seemed though that she had some resentment towards being obliged to do housework. She is very much a career woman, she also believes she is very much superior to most people, and I get the sense that she sees things like cleaning as beneath her.
So she would get into these cleaning sprees, she wouldn’t ask for help, but without warning she would berate us for not having done this or that, or because our room was a ‘pigsty’. If she found our belongings lying anywhere around the house, she would collect them and then throw them at us. She wouldn’t ask us to put them away, she would just yell ‘is this yours!?’. I remember feeling so guilty but kind of frozen, because I didn’t really know what to do. She never directly asked us to do any chores but then got extremely upset that we hadn’t. It was like she didn’t feel she shouldn’t have to bother with chores, like it was our job, but we were supposed to figure it out on our own somehow.
It’s weird to reflect on it – at the time it just seemed normal, and I really felt that I had done something wrong by not having completed chores, or pre-empted that Mom wanted me to do this or that – but thinking about it now, the whole situation was completely absurd! How could I have known what to do if no one asked or showed me? It totally makes sense that I would have all this anxiety and guilt attached to chores, and that I’m effectively having to reteach myself a healthy approach to doing them.
It also brings up something else important to me. I don’t want my babies ever feeling that way about normal daily chores (or anything for that matter) ! More on that in a later post…