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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Housework: Who's On Top?

As a teen, I was a member of my high school marching band’s color guard (translation: flag twirler). To some, marching band might sound super nerdy, but we were good (super good!) and we had a lot of fun. One of our more irreverent activities (and there were many irreverent activities) was a pre-competition chant we called “In and Out.” We stood in a circle with our arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders and leaned in and out, while we guessed it: "In" and "Out."

Okay...“chanted” is probably not the most precise word choice here. Some of us chanted but many of us moaned "in" and "out" in a tone that was more than a little sexually suggestive. (While I’ll decline to reveal whether I was a chanter or a moaner, I would like to make the point that I do not advocate this behavior for a group of teenage girls -- or boys for that matter.)

As the chant reached its climax...In...Out...In...Out...the guard captain would shout: “Who’s on top?” To which we would reply: “We are!”

This cute (albeit hugely inappropriate) little chant has come to mind on several occasions since I’ve been at home. I am reminded of it when I think about housework (yes, housework), because for me, housework can go one of two ways: I’m either on top of it, or it is on top of me.

And more often than not, it is on top of me.

When I worked full time, I had this nice little fantasy about how clean my house would be if I stayed home. (Ha! This might be the case if I didn’t spend most of my day chasing a toddler). Since then, I’ve discovered that the biggest obstacle to staying on top of housework when you’re home is the fact’re home, messing the place up all day.

“So, you’re going to teach other people how to keep their house clean?” the Husband asked a few weeks ago, his skeptical gaze shifting from the dirty dishes to unkempt piles of paper on our kitchen counter.

“No,” I answered defensively, “I’m going to write about my struggles with housekeeping and share some techniques I’ve found useful.”

This reply seemed to shut him up. (At least for a little while). But seriously, the housework has been on top of me for the last three or four weeks, so his snarky remarks are bound to resurface if I don’t get myself back on top...and soon!

I will be the first to admit that I’m no housekeeping diva...I took some pictures last week, just to prove my point:


On days like these when the housework is on top of me, I have this fear that anyone who shows up at my home and sees this mess is going to think What the hell does she do all week?...After all, its not like she has a job!

But even if there were any validity to this fear, let them think what they will! I might feel stuck underneath a giant pile of housework these days, but that is only because I’ve been on top of other things.

For example:
  • working on this blog,
  • helping the Bear adjust to toddler preschool,
  • obsessing over HGTV, real estate, and my dream to become a superstar property flipper,
  • and finally, baking lots of wonderful goodness with the bounty of my CSA subscription and meager garden (including a roasted tomato strata and a peach cobbler).
I intend to share more thoughts on housework in upcoming posts -- thoughts that will be relevant whether you spend your days at home or at work, thoughts that have been shaped, in part, by my training as a librarian. For now, let me conclude with this: Being on top of your housework is great, but sometimes you’re on bottom and that is okay, too. It usually means you’re on top of something else!

More to follow,

Jaelithe, the L@H


  1. Ok Jaelithe.....truly good writing....I'm bringing over several LARGE tubs. You simply put all the clutter into the tubs, stack/hide the tubs. clean the clutter out of the tubs sometime when you're too bored to do anything else. (Smaller tubs can hide behind the couch. And all that clutter must be some sort of proof of priorities in the proper first. AND , even better clutter covers dust !

  2. Hi Sue! Come over with your tubs any time! I agree that it is good to clear the clutter, even if you have to tuck it away and deal with it later. My problem is finding the later....and I have yet to be too bored to do anything else. Your comment actually touches on what I hope to post about next, so I hope you stay tuned and offer more feedback!

  3. Nice blog!

    I just wrote a post on housekeeping, too. I've struggled with it over the years and have finally come to new terms with it thanks to a recent move.

    The link is here if you have time:

    In any case, nice writing and I look forward to reading more!

  4. I love your book "wallpaper".

    (And I am a slovenly housekeeper. It's a good thing that my husband is tidy.)