Sunday, June 5, 2011

Unpopular Opinion #1: I Love to Clean

love to clean
Lately, I have been insanely busy. Like work at work, work at home, do the cooking and cleaning I was doing before I was working at work, keep on top of friendships when possible, etc., all while ensuring that the Babby and I get some quality time each day. And I realized this past weekend, during which I shed my share of tears and spent basically zero time with my family - including the poor wee Babby, who was feeling under the weather - that something has to give. And soon, or I am going to go out of my mind.

But you know what that something isn't going to be? Cleaning. Because I love it. I love cleaning my house. Vacuuming. Dusting. Finding and obliterating hidden cat puke. All of it.

I suspect someone is going to strip me of my liberated woman card, but I tell you truly I could be perfectly happy caring for a home and family and doing little projects and going for long walks and doing absolutely nothing else. How do I know. Oh, I know, because that's exactly what I did - minus the family part - when I lived in Costa Rica. Every day, I:
  • got a little exercise
  • read in the sun
  • had my breakfast
  • tidied up
  • walked around town or to the beach
  • bought groceries if necessary
  • ate a light lunch
  • worked a little
  • did chores (including hand washing laundry, old school style)
  • read or walked or journaled
Obviously, that goes beyond cleaning, and sounds pretty good. But it's not like I was never lonely and sometimes the weather was just awful and sometimes I was bored, but it was just the loveliest sort of boredom. I didn't spend much time thinking about 'being successful' or making a name for myself, whatever that means. Back then, it was okay that no one knew who I was and that I hadn't published even one book. I was just living and focusing on maintenance tasks (and basking in my own ridiculous happiness that was unfortunately tempered with a great deal of missing the BabbyDaddy).

The thing is, maintenance tasks like cleaning are pretty enjoyable - especially for results-driven people since there are immediate results most of the time - when one's chores aren't something that has to be fit into what is otherwise a busy day full of work and stress. It's that what makes cleaning so unpleasant. That's my theory, anyway. One that I came up with as I vacuumed and wiped away the dirt of living on Sunday night like I usually do.

I know, I know, cleaning isn't everyone's cup of tea and not everyone holds their own homes to ridiculously high standards like I do. For a lot of people, cleaning is the first thing to fall by the wayside when time is tight. Not me, and it's not just that I'm anal, which I am. I literally feel crummy when things are out of order - I get anxious and start feeling worthless. I have trouble working, too. It's an extension, I think, of that good feeling people have when they've dressed up nicely and know they look good. I get those same good feelings when my home is neat and clean.

So I like cleaning. Who wouldn't, if it made us all feel sharp and happy and ready for action like it does for me? Maybe for you it's not cleaning, it's having a slick manicure or great hairdo or your car's scheduled maintenance all up to date or a really jammin' toolshed or a fridge full of ingredients. Find your niche, and roll with it.

I don't always succeed at having the perfectly neat and clean house, of course. Especially not now when I'm out of that house for seven hours each day, sometimes more. Used to be, back in those glorious days when I was home from morning until night unless I chose to be elsewhere, I could tidy up as the day went along. Now I have to fit tidying up in when I can, which is not nearly as frequently. But that doesn't mean that cleaning is at the root of my time management problems. No, overfilling my days is at the root of that little issue.

Cleaning is here to stay.


  1. I can't say I enjoy the actor cleaning, but I certainly feel happier and less worthless when my home is clean. When I see toys everywhere, crumbs, paper left all over the place, socks, dishes, fingerprints, cat hair....I feel overwhelmed.

  2. For me it comes in less, cleaning more. I'm trying to go on a spree before I leave for the month of July, but being here, with Em here 24/7, makes that tough. I wonder if we could start daycare 1 day/week sometime sooner? Hmm... I understand that peaceful satisfaction that comes from cleaning, though.

    More importantly, I'm worried about you! :( You are over-doing it, I think, and I hope you can figure out something to balance life a little better. Partly selfish- I miss my friend!- but mostly cause I'm worried about you. <3

  3. Jebus, that was supposed to be "act of"...stinkin auto correct.

  4. @Audrey That pretty much sums it up. It's not like I love the act of cleaning, it's more that it's something I can watch happening - no waiting for results - and something that I know definitively is going to improve my outlook.

    @m0x Pro tip: Cleaning with a toddler is easiest in small chunks, so skip the big hardcore clean and clean in segments. Wash the sink. Vac the rug. OR the stairs. Brush out a toilet. Only do things you can do in, say, less than 15 min.

    And yup, I am overdoing it. Big time. I'm still not sure what's going to go, but something def. has to give. And I miss you, too!

  5. (Hee, I figured. Though I did chuckle, imagining you scrubbing down various famous people!)

  6. I feel where you are coming from. I enjoyed cleaning when I lived alone because I appreciated an immaculate living space and I didn't have to worry about anyone messing up my handiwork. When the hubs went away to grad school for two years, I rediscovered the joy of cleaning. But once he returned and then we moved and got a bigger place and a baby...well, let's just say I lost my cleaning mojo.

  7. I, too, love cleaning. I can't tell you the amount of anxiety it produces to have a cluttered and dirty kitchen for me. Even though I have plenty of time to clean in my unemployed state, I've determined that I won't make sure the house is clean all the time, that is not what I want to spend my day doing (and I could! I could do that! I could find enough to clean each day!) so I do my best to temper my cleaning with doing art/craft things.

    I'm actually thinking of applying for a local housecleaner job - I'm not sure if this translates to other people's houses or not, but I guess I'll see.


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