The sun is shining, the snowdrops are out and children are casting off school jumpers with merry abandon. I think spring may well be here. (Not that that rules out snow flurries next week….) But just in case these seasonal stirrings are turning your attention to housework, I thought I’d repost my musings on spring cleaning from this time last year;

If you’re even remotely considering a spot of Spring Cleaning – just hold that thought!

Though spring may undoubtedly have sprung and you may be keen to revitalise your home after the dark days of winter, before you do…

I have a tip that will help make this seasonal maintenance work much easier. In fact, this simple step may even bring wondrous benefits to you, your home and your life, long after you hang up your marigolds.


read more

 other woman.jpg

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.

And as a feature of the modern age, we are increasingly exposed to media standards or celebrities’ homes and lifestyles. So now we also get to judge ourselves against these additional, artificially high, expectations of what we feel we should be doing.

I know I’ve been guilty of proclaiming, “I’m no good at housework. I’m just not as good as most women.” But if we examine this common grievance, it’s actually ridiculous.

Firstly, how could I possibly know how good most women are? I have a reasonable number of female friends but even that’s a tiny sample of the current female population. Secondly, is there really a single standard to which ‘most women’ conform? And who sets this arbitrary standard anyway? If there was just me on the planet, my techniques, standards, would be the norm – who’s to say they’re not the right ones? Besides, why does it even matter what ‘most women’ are doing? We’re not sheep, we’re individuals.

In light of all this, then, it seems obvious that one quick route out of inferiority is to stop comparing our homes with other women’s houses. But that can be easier said than done. So, whist it’s certainly worth remembering there is no single ‘right way’, there is another way to approach the problem.

Instead of focusing on your perceived shortcomings, turn the spotlight onto that which you believe to be better than you. It’s very likely that when you start to uncover the story behind these ‘superior beings’, you will discover that your lofty view of them is based on smoke and mirrors…

Don’t believe the media

Is your marriage like a movie marriage? Are your children like the perfect darlings we see on adverts? Does your hair always look like you ‘just stepped out of the salon’?

Let’s face it, no-one could maintain that level of perfection. Even supermodels admit they’re not as perfect as their airbrushed covers and posters. Why, then, do we sometimes feel pressured to have homes that resemble a magazine spread? Even the home in the magazine doesn’t look like that all of the time! It’s just a snapshot, a small timeframe, until life carries on, people and things gather, dust accumulates.

So be careful with how you relate to these ‘ideal’ homes. Whilst it’s true that interior magazines and TV shows can be uplifting and a vicarious pleasure, keep in mind that they are usually far from the norm. The are intended to be aspirational rather than realistic – to inspire you, as a force for good feelings. (Personally, I love them – they spur me to create the beautiful home that I long for – they make me want to tidy up, which can’t be bad.)

However the danger comes when these artificially perfect images depress rather than enliven. So, if your reaction to them is to sigh with despair, either a) remind yourself how contrived or unlikely that one shot is or b) look at something else!

People lie

We all have egos. We all want people to believe a certain version of us, so we gloss over the bits that don’t fit the image. I’m not suggesting your friends or peers lie to you, or you to them, but we may have a ‘best side’ that we’d prefer the world to see, rather than the more realistic and less flattering truth.

So there may be aspects to your domestic life that you’d rather keep quiet. But do you think you’re the only one? No-one is perfect, (which, in my view is a good thing – it would be exhausting!). What you see isn’t always the whole story. So, whilst it’s good to admire those who posses the qualities you’d like, don’t belittle yourself in comparison to their perfection – you are only seeing the highly-polished veneer.

It’s not a level playing field

You cannot possibly know all the facts about someone else’s life. Yes, your neighbour may have a perfect home. But she may also have staff or an over-zealous mother-in-law or obsessive compulsive disorder!

Don’t waste your energy comparing yourself unfavourably to women who seem to effortlessly pull it off. Firstly, you have no idea what effort is actually going on, behind the scenes. Secondly, you are unlikely to know the full extent of any support they may have. For example, your friend may keep an immaculate home but her husband may do all the cooking or her mother may help out with childcare or any number of scenarios. It’s pointless to compare results when everyone’s situation is different.

So, if we’re not comparing like with like, why compare at all?

Perfect home does not equal perfect life

There are worse problems than a messy home. Those people that you envy may be facing issues so serious they would swap lives with you in an instant. Everyone has problems, but for some these can be severe, traumatic, life-threatening and permanent. As depressing, exhausting and frustrating domestic woes can be, if this is our biggest problem, that’s actually something to be thankful for.

 

* * *

As always, I’d love to hear what you think!

Danielle

facebook   •   twitter   •   pinterest   •   instagram

 

This post is an extract from: Housework Blues – A Survival Guide.
Available in paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more details.

 

Picture credit: E D Plug

 


read more

Peace Christmas Hearth

Oh, Christmas…

For all the joy and magic of this festive season, there’s no doubt that Christmas brings with it a good deal of extra work and things to do. There are the parties and visits to and from friends and family… Then there’s all that present planning and buying, wrapping and giving… There’s all that extra food shopping and cooking and baking… And on top of all that, there’s also a considerable seasonal serving of extra housework.

Now, before I get all Ebenezer on you, let me just stress that I am a huge fan of Christmas. I absolutely love it. I think I enjoy it even more now than I did when I was a child. Having two small children of my own definitely adds to the magic and sense of excitement and wonder, but even in the quiet moments of planning and organising, the Christmas season always makes me smile.

This is in spite of the extra work, though, rather than because of it.

So, in my attempt to get maximum enjoyment from the festivities with minimum amounts of stress and frantic frenzies, I have a few ideas for a Calmer Christmas Karma. These are lessons I’ve learnt about what makes for a happier time for all concerned – not least, myself. (And why not, Christmas is for grown-ups, too!)


read more

 

shine your light.jpg

“Is this it?”

“Is this what my life has come to?”

“I’ve got so much more to offer.”

Sound familiar?

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!


read more

 girl put your records on

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.


read more

Much as I love the summer, and much as I love my children, I have been known to feel the strain of the summer school holidays. I take my hat off to all the mums who manage to enjoy, rather than endure, the long break. However, I will admit, it does have its perks – my favourite being: time to read.

I’m a big reader all year but I seem to get through more books than usual during those endless summer days. So I thought I would share with you some of the valuable things I learned this summer, as I tried to escape the mess, noise and chaos surrounding me and saught sanctuary in my books….

Possibly the most effective read of the summer was Karen Rauch Carter’s, Move your stuff, change your life. It’s a guide to the Black Hat school of Feng Shui.


read more

crayke

 

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.


read more

scarlett o hara moment.jpg

So, you’ve spent your time cooking or cleaning or washing or ironing etc, then you look around a few hours later and the fruits of your labour are gone with the wind.

Take a deep breath – it’s time for a Scarlett O’Hara moment.


read more

readers top tips housework.jpg

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!)


read more

 Housework workout.jpg

In Housework Blues, I describe the many wonderful benefits of The Housework Workout, (ie using housework as a form of exercise). Yet I’m not the first to suggest this idea. In fact, if you search for ‘housework’ on Amazon, one of the top results is the Housework Workout DVD*.

It’s a well-documented theory that the physical, aerobic nature of housework can reap rewards for your figure, especially when you carry out the work with an intention to trim/tone and you tweak your movements for maximum benefit. (For some quick tips on this check out this article from the NHS.)

Perhaps less well-known, however, are the invisible, ‘knock-on’ benefits that also occur when housework is your exercise of choice. So, if the prospect of thinner thighs is not quite enough to motivate you mop-wards, consider the following favourable, yet often unrecognised advantages of The Housework Workout


read more

As a person, it is irritating when people don’t do their fair share, but if you are at all feminist, it’s much more complicated. There are principles at stake.

There is often the unspoken question: is it being left to me because I am the female? This incurs a wrath born of social inequities, turning a personal situation into a political one. It becomes less of a question about whether you should always have to clean the floor and transmutes into whether women should always have to clean the floor.


read more

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!


read more