Let's get something clear first of all. I recognise the importance of cleaning. Honest I do. I understand that cleaning one's home rids it of bugs and germs and all things horrid that might inflict bad health on the typical family. And I am happy to clean to this extent. Nobody wants to deal with a puking toddler, especially if you are also partaking in the puking.
But in recent years, as I have morphed from a career-driven, independent party-goer into a family-driven, sleep-deprived party-dodger, my standards in the realms of cleaning have slipped somewhat.
It took a while though. During the golden age of Big Tot's baby months when he couldn't walk, talk or smear evidence of his shenanigans anywhere, I was still fairly happy to roll up my sleeves. Plus, and let's not forget this important fraction of my background, my husband is from a very old fashioned part of Eastern Turkey where women are expected to do EVERYTHING. Clean, cook, scrub, rub, dust, fold, polish, and they will positively spit if you try to do it for them. Hence I have spent a considerable amount of time sitting back and watching my hubby's sisters whirl around like dervishes in a cleaning / tidying/ caring for many, many children type of frenzy. It's no wonder I felt I should occasionally partake in a bit of dusting.
But as I moved away from Turkey and into a more Western lifestyle; and as the golden age of Babydom ended and Toddlerhood hooked in its claws, The Avoidance of Proper Cleaning has emerged as a very helpful strategy to get me through each day. And as I spend a good percentage of my time performing the domestic tasks which I believe to be unavoidable (washing dishes, cooking, washing clothes, ironing, shopping etc), I think I can be forgiven for cleaning only when absolutely necessary.
Here are my hints and tips for the Avoidance of Proper Cleaning:
- TIDY . . . Tidying and cleaning are very different beasts. Tidying is far, far easier than cleaning and will give the spectacular illusion that the house is clean. And it can be done as you go along, so long as you realise it will never, ever end.
- AIR FRESHENERS . . . A sure-fire way to give the impression that you have just finished an energetic cleaning sesh. Close your eyes and breathe in the pine forest, the cherry blossom, the ocean spray or whatever else takes your fancy (emphasis on the closing of the eyes).
- NET CURTAINS . . . It is a fact that direct sunlight streaming into your home will highlight every last bit of dirt you have failed to remove. If you can't live with net curtains, then just go out and come back home after dark. It's better that way.
- GLITTER . . . This is easy if you have small children. Sprinkle glitter everywhere and blame it on a crafts session with the kids (everyone knows glitter is notoriously difficult to remove but it will also mask your real dirt in a sparkly mirage).
- BAKE A CAKE . . . This may sound odd but if there is the smell of a freshly baked cake in the air, other senses (such as sight) will be dulled and any amount of dirt can go unnoticed.
- CANDLES . . . Flickering candles give the impression of a nurturing, soft ambience a far cry from an unloved, unclean home. Out of reach of little hands of course.
- START A PROJECT . . . If you have kids then you've got an excuse to start crazy projects which will ultimately defer from cleaning. "I couldn't clean the bath because there's a giant cardboard Spongebob Squarepants in there."
- BABY WIPES . . . There is always a packet within reach in my house. Did you know they clean anything?
- BASKETS . . . If in doubt of where to put something, stick it in a basket. Seriously. Every room should have one.
- CHEAT . . . Spot opportunities for a cheat-clean. Wipe down the tiles during a shower, get the kids to throw soapy water at the car . . . it's not great, I know, but if you want to Avoid Proper Cleaning then you must be committed to cheating once in a while.
- PATIENCE . . . Just remember that one day the kids will be old enough to take over most Proper Cleaning and there is no need for them to know about this list. However, you could print it and keep it in a safe place for them until they have their own children.
- START A BLOG . . . Always, always more important than cleaning.
Adhering to this list gives you lots more time with your children: tickle-time, treasure hunts, superhero role play, block-building, forest walks and the discussing of hot topics such as the Origins of Snot. I know it's important for kids to learn how a household is run, and that they should definitely contribute to it more as they get older. But, right now while my two are mere whippersnappers, I am happy with my slippery standards.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to light a candle.
P.S. If you want to see how else I spend my time when I'm not cleaning, go to www.thecoolrulecompany.co.uk and browse the gorgeous happy living products I've created for toddlers and parents!