Happy New Year!
I know I am fashionably late but I have spent the last few weeks busily converting this entire blog into an ebook format, for your reading pleasure. During this process, I was struck by how many useful ideas I’ve stumbled across over the last year or two. Despite the fact that I’ve relayed them to you on this blog, even I had forgotten some of them, or at least forget to implement on a regular basis.
So in the spirit of new decade reviews, (can I still get away with that?), I thought I’d offer you a quick reminder of the best of the best from the last year of MPWH.
Inferiority is relative. It needs something or someone else to be compared to.
A sense of inferiority arises from comparing ourselves to someone else, someone supposedly superior. Why do we do that? Is it helpful? Very often, it isn’t but it can be automatic and unconscious. It’s a natural human tendency. Everybody does it. But whereas men tend to compare sizes (car, salary, appendage…), women tend to compare appearance – figures, clothes and inevitably, homes.
“Is this it?”
“Is this what my life has come to?”
“I’ve got so much more to offer.”
If your life is consumed by housework, no wonder you feel superior – of course you have more to offer! I don’t believe that any woman on the planet has nothing more to contribute than cleaning and tidying. However, that doesn’t mean we should never do it. We have more to contribute than pretty nails but that doesn’t mean we should avoid manicures!
Any regular readers will no doubt be aware that I have a natural aversion to housework. This is not to say I don’t do it – I want to live in a pleasant and comforting home, so needs must etc… But generally speaking it’s not top of my list of things I want to do.
So you probably won’t be too surprised to discover that when I do eventually shift my gears into housework mode, I race about at a frenzied pace, trying to get the jobs done and dusted (literally) as quickly as possible.
Now there is nothing wrong with working quickly, if that’s how you work happiest. Also, there may be times when a brisk pace is essential (ie impending guests are looming). Quite often, though, I have no need to rush the housework, other than my in-built urge to get it over with. And I have also noticed that these domestic frenzies don’t leave me feeling satisfied and competent, instead they actually they wind me up. They make me anxious and tense. So not only do I begrudge the work as I’m tearing through it, but when it’s over, I feel slightly glum or more than a little snappish. Hardly domestic bliss.
I recently wrote a guest blog post for my Twitter friend Jo Belfield on the subject of photography, (Jo creates beautiful photos for a living).
I believe that having your favourite photos on display in your home can be a great antidote to the housework blues.
So, here’s the blog post again in case you didn’t catch it:
I recently embarked upon a full day of housework.
This is not something I do very often. Not because I don’t enjoy a clean and tidy home – I do, I love it. However, I find that Great Big Cleaning Efforts mess with my head. There’s a very real danger that all the mindless domestic activity will result in a head-space of frustration, despair or low-level fury. (Or on a bad day, all three.) Admittedly there are far worse ordeals to be facing, but I don’t think I’m alone in occasionally feeling the strain of home and family maintenance.
Thanks to the marvels of technology, some of my recent online articles included a comments facility and some people very kindly used this space to volunteer their own housework-success secrets.
These included some real gems and I thought it would be helpful to put together a summary of these words of wisdom. So, here follows a collection of top tips from the online community, on how to cope in the domestic trenches. (Thanks, readers!)
Could it be true? (again)
Now I am a self-confessed Undomestic Goddess. I am not naturally inclined to clean and tidy. I am a million miles away from the Perfect Housewife. And yet…
The other day, I had a few precious minutes of un-spoken-for time on my hands and what did I choose to do with it? Well, believe it or not, I actually went looking for some housework!
Admittedly, I didn’t have to look very far…but the point is, I was motivated to do housework. Now what strange magic was at work? What could this new driving force possibly be? What awesome power could be behind such a freak occurrence?
Well, the good news is, the answer is a simple one. The even better news is, you can quite easily get your hands on it, too!
Could it be true?
It just might be! Allow me to demonstrate with a personal story…
My youngest child has recently begun ‘Big School’ (though it could well be the tiniest Primary school in the country…). It’s quite a milestone in his life but also, it’s the beginning of an exciting new phase in my life, too. After ten years of being a full-time stay-at-home work-from-home mummy, I now appear to have my life back (a bit).
To celebrate this new era, I set myself the goal of becoming fit, healthy and the possessor of a beach-body to be proud of. Now, this is no mean feat.
I am not a natural-born bedmaker. When I see an unmade bed, I am not overwhelmed with an urge to make it. I am more often overwhelmed with an urge to go into another room.
However, I do admit to a slight blip of happiness when I see a beautifully made bed. I love to see a sumptuous and inviting slumber-zone, with plentiful plumped-up pillows and creaseless sheets (a la the gorgeous Beachy Cottage).
So, how to combine this love of bedded-bliss with my strong housework-avoidance streak…?
It’s not often you’ll see the word feminist linked with the topic of housework. Surely, feminists don’t do housework..?
Oh, but we do!
A belief in equality is all well and good, but it won’t do the dishes or make the beds. And until the theory of equality reaches the domestic workload (don’t hold your breath…) guess who gets the bulk of the housework? Feminist or not – if you are The Lady of the House, chances are it’s down to you to keep it clean and tidy.
So, what can we do? Spend all our time fighting the regime? Berate our menfolk for their enviable ability to dodge domestic pressure? Possibly. But in the meantime, the dust is gathering.
…to help with the housework!
I recently wrote a chapter about motivation in the domestic realm, for my new book, Housework Blues.
It lead to the following spin-off idea which I think you may find very useful and effective. The idea is to utilise a powerful technique that deploys your subconscious mind – requiring less conscious (and begrudging) effort from you.
The ‘Not Enough Hours In The Day’ Trilogy – Part III
Keeping our homes and feeding our families are innate human habits. And, thanks to today’s mod cons, this domestic stuff has never been easier. Why, then, do we still struggle to find the time for it?
One answer lies in the position of housework on our to-do lists, (ie not very high.) But there is another explanation: if we have so much to do that such a primal and essential need gets neglected – perhaps our lists are too long! The existence of housework isn’t the problem – it’s a side-effect of being alive – but if we don’t have time for it, the problem is: our lives are too full. If we lack the time to take decent care of ourselves and our families, something, somewhere has gone wrong…