Felix or Oscar?

Some people act like I’m insane for cleaning my house once a week.  They mock me for having a domestic routine.  Until the last week, I thought all grown-ups with permanent residences had dometic routines. Then I mentioned this to some co-workers and they all laughed at me.

I’m flummoxed. Sure, I’ve known people whose homes were a tip; who only did dishes and laundry when they ran out of “clean enough” options, but I figured those were just some rare eccentrics.

To my chagrin, however, yesterday I found myself in a position of having to defend my cleaning schedule!  It’s not like I turn my whole place upside down and inside out every week. I save that for the twice-a-year BIG clean.

My weekly thing (usually Saturdays) just involves:

  • Taking apart the stove and cleaning up the week’s accumulated gunk that I don’t reach during the daily wipe-down.
  • Wiping down the cupboards, fridge, countertops and appliances
  • Wiping down any fingerprints or other schmutz on the walls
  • Sorting out stuff from the fridge and freezer that’s expired and doesn’t need to be there
  • Scrubbing the bathtub, toilets and sinks
  • Dusting all the surfaces (Murphy’s Oil Soap on the good wood)
  • Wiping down baseboards
  • Vacuuming everything
  • Washing the tile floors (Wood floors are only washed every other week)

It only takes a couple of hours, maybe less if the daughter is around to help. Then we do an average of 2 loads of laundry a week- not necessarily on the same day as the cleaning.

I usually have to swiffer the kitchen and bathroom floors at least once more during the week since they seem to accumulate a lot of hair and other yucky stuff, and of course, I clean things in the kitchen as I go (and YES, I do dishes right after every meal). But that’s it.

Apparently, this is all somehow freakishly Stepford or something. It’s not like I enjoy cleaning or anything. I actually hate doing. But I like the end result. Having dirty dishes standing around makes my skin crawl. And, I can’t relax and enjoy being home if things are messy.

So, I’d like to do an informal survey here, as well. Do you have a regular domestic routine or do you wait until you can no longer find the children before cleaning up? (Also, if you have a domestic partner who is the opposite of you, it would be interesting to know how you cope with that, because it would drive me nuts).  Thank you.

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26 responses to “Felix or Oscar?

  1. I definitely have a routine. Her name is Jen and she comes in every other week. 🙂

    Seriously though, I do all the same things you do (on Jen’s off-weeks) and don’t really think it’s odd at all. I hate doing it too but I hate not doing it more, I guess. And I LOVE it when everything is clean and the clutter is put away and I can just enjoy my house.

  2. Well it all seems a bit excessive to me. You can’t eliminate germs and must train your body to withstand them. A little dust and dirt around is a good thing and a sign of a healthy home.
    I differentiate between dry dirt and wet dirt. Dry dirt just accumulates till you clean it up. Wet dirt starts to grow unusual colored things and smells and can be a bit much.
    As for partners, no matter what the level of desired cleanliness is, you can be sure that the clean freak will be upset much more by the mess, than the slob will be by the tidiness.

  3. Martha Stewart would be proud! 😉

    I’m not filthy, but I’m not exactly tidy either.

    My ex and I were opposites – it sure was liberating when I moved out on my own and was able to clean whenever *I* wanted to, rather than whenever *he* wanted me to …

  4. I have a routine, but I don’t do the baseboards really often. I keep the place livable. And dishes must be done immediately. I can’t sleep if the sink is full of dirty dishes.

  5. I hear you XUP. A place for everything and everything in its place. In my house (actually recently former house), kitchen had to be clean after meals and by clean I mean just tidy not necessarily sanitized. Once a day living room straightened, blinds opened to let in light, blinds in bay window lifted up slightly so Logan-the-Dandelion-Dog could watch for his squirrel and rabbit buddies who come to visit, floor by front door swept and shoes made neat. That’s a big one I hate shoes all over the place (btw I like your blog banner). I used to do all that stuff. I was even training Logan to put his toys away. Others in the house didn’t care much about basic home tidiness. Not soon-to-leave-the-nest skylark sons, nor the former Mrs. Skylark, may she trip on her 50 pairs of boots all over the place (Oops, did I say that out loud!)

  6. It’s hard to find the time with young kids (5 & under)!! I do drop them off with my parents for three hours every weekend, but that’s rarely enough time to get more than one round of cleaning done. During the 3 hours:

    I always manage to collect all the trash for trash day (Yay me)
    I usually get the kids’ rooms decluttered and pick up around the house
    I wipe down and disinfect toilets & sinks
    I sweep the floors
    I vacuum MAYBE twice a month (bad me)
    I wash the wood floors less than that.

    Daily, I do laundry and dishes. And that’s all I can manage before collapsing during the week. When I do manage to get the kids involved, they are so slow and ineffective (I try, try to be patient, I do) that it makes me crazy.

    I need a Jen.

  7. Oh, and the domestic partner? He cooks (and makes tons of cooking mess), shops for groceries, and mows the lawn; and then is so high on his massive contribution that he feels lessened by being required to do any cleaning. That is the non-cook, non-grocery-shopper’s job. Sometimes he actually spills stuff and drops food all over the floor while cooking and just leaves it there!!! Ew.

  8. Oh, hurrah! People DO have domestic routines!

    Debra – Couldn’t agree more. I don’t know how people can cook in a kitchen full of dirty dishes or relax in a house full of clutter and debris.

    Bandobras – So, you’re saying you only clean when things start to grow and smell?

    Tania – I honestly couldn’t live with someone who wasn’t tidy. That would be a deal breaker no matter what other sterling qualities he or she might have.

    Jazz – Sometimes I forget the baseboards and then I’m walking by and see all the stuff accumulated there and have to go back and do them. Why do they make stupid baseboards with that stupid little ledge on top anyway? Couldn’t baseboards be bevelled so they don’t collect dust? Sheesh.

    Skylark – Ah yes, the shoes. My daughter likes to drop hers right in front of the door as soon as she comes in even though there’s a perfectly good shoe mat less than 2 feet away. I’ve been to homes where they have shoes and boots all up the stairs with only a narrow path to walk through. I admit shoe storage is a problem. They take up a lot of room and you need a really efficient shoe rack to hold them all properly in your closets. I think actually, it’s time homes came with specially equipped shoe closets.

    Nylonthread – I think a Jen would be a good idea for you. They don’t cost as much as you might think and it’s totally worth it — at least until the kids can be properly trained to do it! Don’t give up on the kids, either. It does take endless patience and even my 15-year-old just sort of fakes her way through most cleaning jobs, but I’m not giving up because one day it will all sink in. At least she’s at the point now where she appreciates a tidy clean home and often tells me stories of friends’ houses with a horrified tone. So, it’s working. The domestic partner is another problem. Like I said before, I couldn’t tolerate someone like that. To compensate he should provide you with a Jen.

  9. My excuse for not cooking nearly as often as I would like is due to a cluttered kitchen. The counters are a dumping ground. Whenever I want to use the oven a wok, two frying pans, a pizza pan, a small pan and a dutch oven must be removed. Sometimes it take a long time to get them back inside. The only routine I have is vacuuming and tidying up every other day and cleaning around the bathroom sink every day. I’d probably be better if I didn’t live alone.

  10. I didn’t think you were insane XUP, I was just inordinately interested in the details of your cleaning routine since my own style of housekeeping is far less methodical. If I came across as a little awe-struck by the completeness of your routine, it was only because I’m envious. I would love to be seized by a weekly two-hour cleaning compulsion. I am also in awe of HellaStella, Megan and Jo (and now Jazz and Skylark), who all seem to share a natural enjoyment of housework and organizing. Alas, the only way I can make myself do housework is by turning the timer on for 15 minutes and promising myself I can stop when it rings. Theoretically I have a daily 15-minute housework binge, but in reality I only get to it a few times a week.

  11. Violetsky – you vacuum every other day and you live alone? Wow – what on earth is happening at your place that falls all over the floor so frequently? Don’t you have cupboards for all your pots and pans? Can you maybe hang them up on a rack or something? That DOES sound tedious having to make cooking space all the time.

    Zoom – See, now phrases like “cleaning compulsion” make it sound abnormal. I don’t think anyone enjoys housework, I think it’s more like Debra said – we dislike the mess more than we dislike the cleaning, so we do it. Like a discipline thing — like you getting up at 5 to go to the gym. You surely don’t like that either, but you like it more than getting flabby and saggy and unfit. Maybe you feel perfectly comfortable with clutter and a riotous garden? If so, you shouldn’t feel any need to declutter.

  12. A girl after my own heart! We do the dishes and pots and pans as we use them. Every night before bed I straighten everything up and put away the random stuff just hanging out. I used to vacuum every night (which drove my husband nuts because I seemed to only have the energy to do it just as he was falling asleep), but now I do it every couple of nights. I will Swiffer on a regular basis, too (we have a hairy dog). I clean the bathrooms every weekend, and I try to clean as things look icky—whether it’s vacuuming the ceiling fan (you would NOT believe how gross that gets) or Windexing the mirrors. I do have someone come in every other Friday, but I like to do the maintenance in between visits. I can’t sleep at night if there’s clutter and filth in the house.

  13. ana julia, our cleaning lady comes every two weeks. we communicate primarily with smiles and nods, but we are a great match (i’ve gone through SEVERAL cleaning ladies).
    i also have a daily routine. have to. the kids (and husband?)are still in training to be socialized, they know not that in polite society we eat food over our plates to prevent a mess. also, the amount of debris that gets dragged in from people coming in and out of the pool could build several small nests. i don’t want nests in my house. we also have indoor and outdoor shoe rules.
    also, i can’t sleep if there are dirty dishes in the sink.
    while i don’t love to clean, i love to relax in a clean and tidy environment.
    i don’t think i’m being over-zealous either.

  14. Mo – Oh ya — ceiling fans…eeewww. You and a few others sure vacuum a lot, though. Once a week is enough for me as long as I swiffer a bit in between and sometimes I go after the cat area with the hand-vac when he’s been particularly rambunctious in the litter.

    Dave – When you say “fend for themselves” do you mean someone else does them or do you actually mean you do nothing around your place except dishes?

    Meanie – where were all these male persons’ mothers when it came time to socializing? Why do wives have that burden as well? Truly it makes me crazy that we think it’s perfectly okay for men not to know how to do domestic chores. Grrrrrr.

  15. Not the whole place, just bits. I have a cat who sheds and leaves traces of painful to step on crystal silica litter (low tracking, my eye) … I leave the balcony door open and dead petals off my geraniums (every year I forget) keep floating in. I have a swiffer, but the vacuum can do the floor and area rug with a flick of a switch. And I enjoy seeing the cat run onto the sofa back and glare at the raging machine.

    Cupboards need much reorganizing.

  16. I’m not going to mock your routine because I’m going to pray that you come and whip my house into shape. Saturday is open. And, um, the next Saturday as well. …

  17. Men are not unaware of how to do housework we are just very busy dong important things like paving the world and making sure there is enough electricity for those who wish to to vacuum and wash to their hearts content.
    It is a bit rough to be accused of not caring when we let you clean all the time without complaint.
    95% of the cleaning written of here is unnecessary make work/ make guilt oc behavior.
    The cave was always dusty and will always be dusty.
    If it isn’t health inspired it’s a sickness not a benefit.

  18. Violetsky – Karma – cat sheds/out comes the vacuum. I find that PC Green cat litter is the best. It’s flushable, dust-free and even edible if your tastes run that way. We also got one of those Buddha domes, so the cat litter problem in now minimal. Now go re-organize your cupboards. You’ll be amazed how much more fun cooking will be.

    Dave – That would be….apathetically unorganized?

    Deb – If that’s what it takes to get an invite to your castle of mystery, by jove, I’ll do it!

    Bandobras – I’m not even going to respond.

  19. Coming late to the discussion but I tend to clean things when I see they need cleaning, like toilets and sinks and tubs. That probably averages out to once a week. Likewise with the vacuuming but since we don’t have a dog any more, that happens less often. And now that I have a Roomba, even that is less of a chore. Except you do have to pick up some things and make sure the Roomba doesn’t get hung up. If I had a more pressing schedule (not an ironing joke), I would probably concentrate my cleaning into a routine but since I don’t, I can just do it here and there for 15 or 30 minutes at a time. Like now, I have been noticing for about a week that the grout in the shower needs scrubbing but I am waiting until it is a little worse and I feel like doing the work. Then I will tackle it all at once for about 15 minutes and it will be done.

  20. I don’t have a routine though I generally wash the kitchen floor when the cat starts sticking to it. And I mow the lawn once a week.

    On a regular basis, I keep the dishes done and the girls fed and in clean clothes, the living room picked up, and the bathroom safe for human use. Being a single mom with two girls in soccer (2 practices, 2 games per week), a full-time job, a 45-minute commute each way, a large yard to keep mowed in the summer and driveway to keep shovelled in the winter, and a pool to clean and take care of, homework and doctor’s appointments and playdates and haircuts to be scheduled and dealt with, groceries to be bought and meals to be cooked and sleep to be had, there are only so many hours in the day.

    And hands down if it’s a choice between doing something with the girls and doing housework, the girls win every time. I want them to remember their childhood as a long list of things we did together, the park, bike rides, swimming, the splash pad, walks in the Arboretum, not them watching TV while I did dishes or washed the floors.

    I was better able to handle it all when my ex took the girls every second weekend, but I have them 24/7 now and though the house might be messy, we’re pretty happy.

  21. Julia – I think if I didn’t have a messy teenager and a furry cat, I might work more like you. I seem to remember doing that in those long ago distant days when I had a place all to myself and nothing ever seemed to get dirty.

    Alison – The part about the girls not seeing their dad anymore kind of knocked everything I read before out of my head. Wow. Whatever the story is there it can’t be pretty and I can totally see your point about making important choices with your time, especially under your circumstances. Houswork be damned!

  22. I had to break up with my boyfriend because of my domestic routine. I have to have a really clean house…he doesn’t. I’m still performing the cleaning exorcism two weeks later.

  23. My domestic routine is polar opposite of my wife’s.
    We struggle with points of views but manage to get to the common goal with more love than indifference or hate. I guess that is why we are both still alive.

    (BTW no comments on the ‘pink heelless go go boots? Still posted, anyway!)

  24. Carrie – so you just dumped the boyfriend a couple of weeks ago? And just because he’s a slob? Cool! You go girl. And now you have a big fat raise and a sparkling clean home and a big old bed all to yourself.

    Hunter – Interesting that you can make that work, in contrast to the commenter above. I know I couldn’t deal with a slob.