This Life...

Is It Just Me…

…or do we care less about housework as we get older? Once upon a time, Mondays and Tuesdays were housecleaning days at my home. I worked my rather round ass off scrubbing floors and bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry…the list was truly two full days of cleaning. And at least twice a year, everything got removed from my kitchen cupboards and my china hutch and was washed and put back away, all shiny clean. I reorganized closets at least four times a year, washed windows every spring and fall, and even got dust bunnies out from under the shelves in the garage.

But things have changed. In the last few years, scrubbing the corners of the kitchen floor with a toothbrush seems way less urgent than writing just another few pages on the work in progress. Dishes have been known to sit in my sink from breakfast until after lunch, and horror of all horrors, I confess–I haven’t cleaned my oven since Christmas. Often a whole day will go by before I make the bed–yes, I’ve actually made the bed at five p.m. on more than one occasion. I know, at that point, why bother?

What happened to all that dedication? Well, frankly, it went the way of weekly meal plans, fresh baked bread, a vegetable garden, and all the other wifely ways I once took such pride in. I’m not dissing those things–not at all! I feel guilty that I’m not the perfect housekeeper I used to be. But not all that guilty… I’d rather write than clean out cupboards and I prefer editing to lying on the garage floor on my belly, brooming out dust and leaves.

And here’s the best news: No lightening bolt comes down to strike you dead if there’s dust on the good crystal wine glasses. Hell, they clean up just as easily only when you need them as they do if you take them out and wash them two times a year. The housekeeping sheriff doesn’t show up if you skip a week’s vacuuming, and the health department has not once been to my house to red tag my kitchen floor.

Mostly, what I’ve done is set myself free from the all the “must do in order to have a perfect house” tasks to allow time for me to write and it feels fantastic! Don’t get me wrong, I get in a cleaning frenzy every so often and I scrub until the house glows, but I no longer feel the need to spend two whole days a week at it. The bathrooms are clean, the sheets get changed each week, laundry’s folded, and the kitchen is scrubbed…well, I’m done… Now back to that novel…


  • Betty Fokker

    I was born older then, because housework has always chaffed my butt. I do as little as will sustain the health/happiness of my family. My mother, however, leaves a trail of scrubbing bubbles where ever she goes. Don’t know how she does it.

    • admin

      I was never crazy about it myself, Fokker–I just did what I believed was expected of me. My character flaw is always wanting everyone to be happy with me… not so much anymore. My lack of give-a-shit is becoming more pronounced the older I get…it’s a good thing!

  • Mary Stella

    Nan, clearly you were a much more diligent housecleaner. I’ve never been that conscientous. I do what I need to when I need to do it and sometimes that “when” is delayed longer than expected. I figure if I clean to the point where I am not embarrassed to have friends drop by, I’m ahead of the game!

    • admin

      Mary Stella, I think I was kinda over-the-top, but since I always believed that it was my job to please, keeping my house hyper-clean just sorta fit. I love that you’re coming by!

  • londonmabel

    I don’t know if I have this accurately but… did you used to be a full-time homemaker? Because if so, it’s clear what happened. You left your job, and became a writer. Now you clean just to keep on top of the dirt, rather than as part of a career (which included bread baking, a vegetable garden and so forth) non?

    Since becoming unemployed I do all the chores, since that’s kind of my part time job (no point my husband doing any of it). So I clean/organize more than I used to. But it’s nowhere near what you describe (and I am 38, and no kids to clean up after.) I do like the level of tidiness I’m at, but… man I can ALWAYS find something better to do than clean! 😀

    Glad you’ve discovered your new oven-dirt-liberty life. 😉

    • admin

      Yes, LondonMabel, I was indeed a homemaker for many years…and what great insight–exchanging one job for another is exactly what I’ve done! Thanks for stopping by!