Friday, October 29, 2010

Now you'll never want to visit me

I grew up in an apartment with piles of papers everywhere, a hall closet with shelves of hotel bar soaps, and dozens of shoeboxes filled with unworn men's shoes. Sometimes, my dad would sit on newspapers at the kitchen table because there was nowhere else to put them.

Pack rat sounds mean. So let's just say my dear dad is a pack man. And that my response was to grow up to be very neat. Friends described my room apartment I rented in my twenties as museum-like, because things were always in their place. Having kids and a husband who has Toss Everything Anywhere Syndrome loosened me up but still, our house is relatively neat. I need that for peace of mind.

Clean? Well, er, yeah. I am good about wiping down surfaces and the bathrooms. But otherwise, I feel no guilt if I don't clean regularly, unlike 80 percent of women ages 25 to 42 recently polled by Scrubbing Bubbles for their Dirty Work Index. Nor do I feel that how clean my home is "reflects upon me as an individual," unlike 79 percent of women surveyed. Nor do I worry what others think about the cleanliness of my home, unlike 64 percent of women they asked. Nor do I clean when my MIL visits, unlike 53 percent of women polled.

I am 100 percent glad I don't know the squeaky-clean women they surveyed, and I am sure they would not want to hang with me, either. Although if they wanted to come over and clean the house, they're welcome to and if they wanted my MIL to visit them, that would be fine too.

I found all of this out at a Scrubbing Bubbles event the other day at the Rock Center Cafe in New York.  Colleen Padilla from Classy Mommy invited me (she talks as fast as I do, love that). The event did not feature cutesy drinks like The Cleantini or appetizers like Dust Bunny Meatballs, just good food, author and TV host Donna Erickson, and parting gifts of two cleaning products and two nice books, Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families and At Home With Friends.

I haven't yet put the cleaning stuff to use (though I checked out the Scrubbing Bubbles site and I liked that it listed the ingredients for products so people can make educated decisions). Here's the deal: I want the house to be clean enough to keep the kids healthy and not sneezing. But the things I take real pride in are my husband and the kids, my work and this blog. Also, I have really nice toes.

If our kitchen's chrome appliances are dull or there's dust on the TV, so be it. I'd much rather spend my time buffing and polishing and generally taking care of my family. However, if Max or Sabrina (or Dave) wanted to learn how to clean the house, I'd be all for it and come to think of it, wouldn't dusting be a nice occupational therapy exercise?

OK, tell: How neat is your house? How clean is your house? How much do you care? Would you maybe still come visit me? And if you are one of the ladies who took the Scrubbing Bubbles survey, when would you like to come over and clean? I'm free Wednesday mornings!

Photo/Gustav Metzger


  1. Clean house? Ha! My favorite phrase for when the therapists come is, watch out, my home is lived in.

    Don't get me wrong. I have the ability to clean. Its just that I would rather spend my time doing other things. So if anyone wants to clean my house, let me know, haha.

  2. my dear mother accused me of starting to look like "one of those houses on Hoarding: buried alive". She just doesn't understand that we have 5 people in a tiny house, and I just don't have any place to PUT anything...and I also have a husband and 3 kids who just drop stuff and leave it until I put it away :(

    I am NOT a neat person. My carpet gets vacuumed like once every 2 weeks, I have hard water stains in my toilet ( I did get 75% of them off), and 2 cushions of my sectional are covered in crochet stuff.

    a few years ago when I worked in a nursing home, I joked that I was going to bring home ( on a day pass) one of the Alzheimer's patients who had a cleaning fetish, and turn her loose on my house...

  3. I have that throw everything away thing, too!! My MIL has a closet of hotel soaps, too! She's a, er, "pack woman." I always fill up at least two bags of trash with each visit out there. It feels so good!!

    As for my own house, we are pretty clutter free. I straighten up often but I'm not great at the big bad "dirty" work. Laundry, now that's my thing!!

  4. I have described my decorating style as autistic eclectic because of my five year old son. It makes it easier to dust because we don't have many things on display, but it doesn't mean that I actually do it.

  5. "wouldn't dusting be a nice occupational therapy exercise?" Yes. ;)

    And dusting is not likely a goal on an IEP. ;)

    Like you, Ellen, my housekeeping habits have spanned a developmental progression from neat-single-person to someone who measures the value of how time is spent more than how the house looks. But, I find the benefit of exercise in vacuuming and yard work - now in 'middle' age. Barbara

  6. Me? I'd really, REALLY like my house to be sparkly clean. But that doesn't translate into reality. I used to get down on myself about this... but then I realized that there is a finite amount of time in the day and that we are all making choices on how to spend that time...and if I spent my time cleaning my house instead of playing with my kids and doing things that fill me up a bit (blogging, for example), then I'd end up be a grumpy mama with grumpy kids living in a super clean house. And who wants that? I'd rather be a (mostly) happy mama with (mostly) happy kids in a (mostly) clean house.

  7. My husband is like your dad, but he's slowly realizing that being able to find things without combing through piles of clutter is a Good Thing. It's still not great but so much better than when we first got married. Also, I have a cleaning woman come over once a week. It's expensive but I'm willing to make the sacrifice for my sanity.

  8. Honestly, my house isn't clean at the moment. There are action figures strewn from one end to the other, someone's breakfast plates on the table, magazines surrounding a living room chair, and the bathroom could definitely use a good scrubbing. As much as I'd love to have a spotless house, the only way it will happen is if I sent Monkey and Daddy to live in a doghouse in the backyard. Like you, I'd rather spend my time with my family than scrubbing toilets on a daily basis.

  9. I'm ashamed to say that a neat/clean house is one of my greatest pleasures. I feel much calmer and relaxed when everything is in its right place, the toilet is clean, dishes are put away and the floors are free of dog hair and dust. I don't keep my house clean for others, there's just something inside of me that loves cleanliness in my OWN home (I could care less how my friends keep their homes and it would never affect me visiting them). But this need for clean makes me feel guilty sometimes because I want to spend as much time with Ruby as possible and I feel so conflicted when the house is a mess. I truly WISH that I didn't even care if my house was messy. Maybe I need House Cleaning Anonymous or something?! More power to those of you who don't have the same compulsions as me! :)

  10. Looks like I'm hardly alone here! Angie, House Cleaning Anonymous made me laugh. And, really, there's no shame in saying that a neat and clean house is one of your pleasures. I may be more about neat than I am about clean, but I still love it when my house is in good shape--like I said, I need it for peace of mind. Even more so when Max was little, and everything felt out of control.

  11. I'm pretty anti-clutter. I like for most things to "put into their places". Clean, though? Well, let's just say that the cobwebs hanging from ceiling were probably hanging there long before the Halloween season.... :)

  12. Books everywhere. Everywhere. And I hate leaning, and especially clearing up. We have a concept in Judaism that you can't give a servant/worker "pointless work", where you do something over and over again and it never gets finshed (example- emptying one barrel into another bucket by bucket and then doing the reverse). That's what housework feels like to me.

    Also, I'm bad at training the kids to pick up after themselves. And any inate cleanliness any of them had has been destroyed by E.'s tendedncy to come into their rooms and destroy them.

    I used to not care about the mess- I was often too crazed to notice it. But now, I'd actually like it to be clean.

  13. We pick up because we have a power wheelchair user in the house. The floor are always dirty but we do mop/steam vacuum frequently. Just lots of foot/wheel traffic at our house. Winter time just makes it worse.

  14. My house is pretty terrible in terms of neatness, but I clean it when people come over.

  15. I used to be neurotically focused on clean..and I was going to school and working part time...and one day my shoe stuck to something sticky on the kitchen floor- I left my shoe and kept on doing what I was doing.

    It was a huge turning point for me!


  16. I'm a hopelessly organized neatnik who actually doesn't mind having a little dust around. Being a single woman still living home with my parents and a slob of a college-aged sister, you learn to adapt... ^_^

  17. I would like to be neat, clean and live in a place that looks like a magazine...but that is not happening--life gets in the way too much. My mother does better (and good thing because we're in her house for the time being), but she fails "Clutter." Way too much of it! Oh well, it's "homey."

  18. I'm a neat freak...OCD is what my friends call it...I don't know. The thing is that I don't do it for other people. My hubby and kids would much rather live "less clean"...but me, it's my release. It is the one thing that I can control. I have always been neat but after my daughter's diagnosis, it became obsessive. I'm ok with it. It doesn't change my life style or hinder my life at all...but I don't go to bed until it's all done.

    I do though enjoy going to my friend's homes who aren't so neat...It is I would definitely come and visit!

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