Once, when I was a very new Mom (I think Sam was about six months old), I attended a large play date where one of the mothers asked a question to the group:
“Do you manage to get dinner on the table by five?”
I busted up laughing. I wan’t laughing at her; I thought this woman was making a joke. Because it was 2013. I didn’t realize there were still young housewives striving to get dinner on the table by five.
Did her husband expect her to cook every day, even at six months postpartum? Did he expect dinner hot and ready when he came home? What about the housework? Was she expected to keep up with that, too? And to what level? Spotless or just tidy?
These are questions I never got to ask because I was too busy crawling into my shell as the other moms around me answered her question seriously, exchanged housekeeping tips, and gave me the side-eye.
But I did realize–whether this woman set standards for herself or had them imposed upon her–how incredibly lucky I am not to have a husband with old-fashioned expectations. Even my father, who would have loved to have a skirt-wearing, pot-roast-making housewife, has adapted to my more scattered, oddball mother and the piles of junk around the house.
(I say these things lovingly. We’re a family; we know about each other.)
Anyhow. This week, I’m recommending Heloise’s Housekeeping Hints–or anything by Heloise Cruse–and I’ll tell you why:
Nobody really taught me to keep house.
My family tended to have dinner whenever it was convenient, often at the dinner table, often in front of the TV. We didn’t live in squalor but there was always dust and clutter (especially when my parents moved onto four acres of red clay) and nobody was too particular about where things went. The dishes got done eventually, each of us washed our own laundry, and from time to time one of us would get sick of the mess and give the place a good cleaning.
It wasn’t until I was a mom that I realized housekeeping is something some people really think about. Whole play dates could be spent talking about ways to clean the bathtub, get stains out of upholstery, and so on. I’d nod along and say, “Oh, wow!” or “Good idea,” at appropriate times, but it took a long time for me to warm up to the idea that keeping my house in order was only going to get more difficult as time went on and my family grew. I was already having to learn how to clean bottles properly, and until Sam was about one I washed all the toys both before and after having kids over for play dates.
The harder realization, unfortunately, is one that even Heloise can’t really help me with: I just don’t like keeping house. I’ve learned some things that help me clean more efficiently and I’ve certainly learned some science that makes me want to keep things cleaner (did you know that a dirty shower can get you sick?) And I am lucky, because I have a husband who is more than willing to help (in part because he grew up in a well kept house and likes things clean almost to the point of OCD–more on that another time), but it’s like a spiral staircase that just keeps going down. There are things to clean in your home that you probably never thought of. Things that need tending though you never notice them. And since home economics classes became much less common in my generation (I never went to a school that offered home ec) and so many formalities have been abandoned, since “adulting” became a word and “failure to launch” a phenomenon, I thought maybe you could use it, too.
Anyway, enjoy the video. I know–I’m a ham.