I just finished cleaning my flat, and it feels good. I love the feeling of positive energy it brings with the windows thrown wide to dry the floors. I love walking around with bare feet and not getting bits stuck all over them, I love going to the toilet and not staring at streaks of toothpaste and puddles of grime and smelling toilet smells while I’m sitting on it.
For me there are 2 types of cleaning: the first is everyday picking up, more like clearing. Me and G (DH) usually do this last thing after all the kids are in bed. Together we clear up all the odds and end that have built up over the day, we empty snack bags and the buggy, sort the kitchen out, brush under the dining table, the couch pillows get plumped. I love sitting on the couch after that, usually I’m showered too by then so I feel like the day is “done” and I can just kick back for a bit in the quiet, tidy space.
It’s also the time we wrap up the day and think about the following day. We get food out of the freezer for tomorrow’s meals and have a little sense check of what is coming up, we talk about the ins and outs of our day. If it is Sunday night we get the calender down and look at the week ahead and organise how to deal with any appointments or obligations, we make a weekly meal plan and a shopping list. I usually make another list of things I want to get done during the week, and if there is a really big task or lots of paperwork to be done we divide up the jobs we need to do on a list each and make a date as to when they will be done by.
We have learned by trial and error that these things cannot be talked about and done properly with kids around, we need relative quiet to organise our minds and our household stuff. In non-stop times, when we have too many social commitments, when we get the kids to bed too late or I need early nights bacause of
broken sleep exhaustion or illness and we don’t have “an evening”, we try to communicate through kids’ chat and interuption, but it’s not the same.
I really appreciate this little routine that we have, it helps us to function well as a family and as a couple. Things are not perfect between me and G, but this is one of the things (one big thing) I appreciate and value about our relationship: the routines, the rhythms of family life, the pleasant sense of one foot in front of the other, of being together on the same page, our family values of home, food, activities, all coming together.
The other type of cleaning, the ‘heavy’ cleaning, gets done theoretically once a week: hoovering, mopping and getting the bathroom (used to be changing the sheets too, but learned through trial and error that usually just after changing sheets someone would wet the bed, so now I just wait for that). This type of cleaning breaks you out in a sweat and you need a shower after. It involves picking up all sorts of stuff before hand so as to get to the floor and bathroom. I tend to go around the house with an empty washing basket, plop all the stuff that shouldn’t be where I find it into the basket, and then walk around with the basket putting it all away. Sometimes I forget the putting away part for the moment, and an annoying basket of random crap sits around until the next time I need it for clean clothes.
Other stuff, like cleaning the walls, kitchen windows, fridge, or doing deep decluttering, happens a few times a year, and these moments usually mark rhythms in our family life, too. They happen before Christmas, before births (there have been three in the past few years!), before big life changes (going back to work/school) or over the summer when G is often here alone and he goes to work on the deep layers of mess (I know, what a gem).
Most people I know here have a cleaner, it’s normal here in Spain, though it wasn’t where I grew up in the UK. When I have some extra cash I think I will pay someone to do my heavy cleaning once a week, at least while the kids are young. I feel like it will be buying back 2 hours of family time, time I could be out with them at the park or library.
Sometimes I have wished for a maid to just come and tidy up at the end of the day when you are just exhausted. I’ve fantasised about those rich people who don’t lift a finger. But maybe it wouldn’t be the same. Maybe I wouldn’t have the same sense of family rhythm and connectedness to my partner. Maybe less satisfaction of hard work done well, a sense born of getting to work on the flat, finishing the task, showering and sitting here boring you lot about it! Haha.