Posts Tagged ‘housekeeping’

You know when a visitor puts away the clean dishes and manages to put almost everything in completely the wrong place? And you spend months looking for the can opener because you don’t know where the hell it’s been put?

Well, my kitchen cupboards are always like that. It’s like nothing’s ever had a proper home and just gets shoved in wherever it fits best at the time. And no, I’m not quite willing to admit how long it’s been since I last saw my can opener, especially considering I’m the one who probably put it away. Let’s just say that it’s been a long long time since anyone attended a can opening in this house…

But surprisingly, it’s a completely different matter when it comes to the organisation of toys in boxes. Underneath that thin veneer of utter chaos, there is complete order. No, really: each and every toy has its place. And only I know where those places are. 

Now, most people might dread those playdates where the contents of every single toy box has been summarily emptied and kicked about a bit. But not I, no. Mess is mess is mess is mess. It’s the words “Let’s pack these toys away!” that I dread the most – whether it be from a helpful visiting parent, my husband, or the World Champion of Tidier-Uppers. Because, as I said, only I know where everything goes. 

“Oh, please don’t worry yourself,” I say. “Please.

But if they really insist on helping, of course I graciously smile and thank them, all the while driving my finger nails into the palm of my hand. And the minute they’ve left the room, I immediately set about putting their wrongs to right, muttering all the while under my breath. My little half-spoken rant usually goes something like this:

Now why would you put Duplo in with the Glow-in-the-Dark blocks? Duplo doesn’t glow! Does. Not. Glow. Uh, and that’s certainly not a Dolly Dress now, is it? It’s a Barbie Dress. You don’t need to be a genius to see that Baby Annabel ain’t ever going to fit in that little purple number… And – oh dear god – Lofty doesn’t go in the Cars Box. He goes in the Guys Box because he’s so clearly a guy and not just a vehicle! He’s got a face, people. A face! And, arrrggghh!… The same rule OBVIOUSLY applies to Bertie the Bus except, actually, he goes in with the Thomas Trains box. Even though he’s not actually a train. But OBVIOUSLY he’s still part of the Isle of Sodor’s extensive public transport system and … What the hell is Autobot Jazz doing in the Cars Box? What part of “Robot In Disguise” don’t you people understand? Sheesh! He needs to go in the Transformers & Bionicle Body Parts Box under the bed … and… OH. MY. SWEET. FUCK.  Who put the Star Wars Lego in the Little Lego Box – don’t they know how expensive that shit is and what a living nightmare an incomplete Lego Separatist Spider Droid can be… and… oh… DANG IT! DANG IT ALL TO HELL!

And I end up emptying everything back onto the floor so I can do the whole thing properly, which I do until I get interrupted by some child needing a drink and/or a bandaid or I just grow bored and wander off and the whole thing gets deserted mid-project. 

It’s really little wonder my house is such a tip.

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Two bloggers. Two different hemispheres. One vision (largely impaired by too much clutter, dirt and booze). Exposed for all the world to see as Housekeepers Of Ill-Repute, Proprietresses of Dubious Maternal Instinct and Woefully Neglectful Wives.

Here they are, flashing their dirty bits in the first of three simultaneous postings. Click here to read the sister post


A lot of people say to me “How exactly did the idea for this ‘simulpost’ with the Bearded Iris come about?”. Well, I reply, it all started with Iris writing to me about a photo she’d taken of a “booger” one of her children had thoughtfully placed upon one of her walls, out of harm’s reach or perhaps as a snack for later. I thought to myself: I like the cut of this lady’s gib. Most people would have just wiped the booger off but no, ol’ Iris had to take a photo of it. And it got me thinking about what kind of photos I could take around my own home… 

In this age of open-plan living and antimicrobial hand wipes in a convenient purse-sized pack, there’s a lot of pressure on us housewives to live the Ikea Dream. And I’m sick and tired of pretending that I’m any good at this housekeeping lark and that having kitchen surfaces that I can see my reflection in is important to me. My home may be a pigsty but it’s a place full of love and laughter where nobody is ever told to stop busting a move in the loungeroom in case they scratch the new parquetry flooring or where scrubbing the bathtub is more important than sitting down with my children to read a book and have a hug. 

So here Iris and I both are, chucking a Jamie Lee Curtis: doing the housekeeping equivalent of showing our flabby bits to the world to make  a million women sigh with relief that their house is nowhere near as filthy as ours and maybe one or two others feel like they’re not alone in letting the housework get just a little bit on top of them. The subsequent photo essays are our gifts to the world on this day, the first day of the New Year, which is all about turning over new leaves and (perhaps) finding out once and for all what really lurks beneath the oven. If you’re that way inclined, that is – I personally am happy to leave it another year.

Some might call us brave. Most will call us slovenly. But here it is: the Awful Truth – in colour!



In a recent school exercise, Mr Justice completed the sentence “The people in my family are…” with the following list:


And he then drew this little picture…


Exhibit A: Check out Mummy's club foot!

It doesn’t take a genius to deduct from Mr Justice’s family portrait that we have a small spider problem in our house, but here’s a photo just to underline the point: 


Exhibit B: Web-tastic!

And for the record, I chose this particular spiderweb to photograph not because it was the biggest or the best but because I liked the perilously-placed skewers a-top of the cupboard so that anyone trying to clear those cobwebs might find themselves in a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style trap. Take that, spider slayers!


Here’s a small example of how things get stored in our house:


Exhibit C: Ikea, eat your heart out!

I have often thought I’d be the perfect candidate for that TV show “My Life on the Lawn” except there ain’t no lawn big enough in these here parts to hold my junk. Not even the lawns of the White House could handle it. No, truly.


Right through my house there is a designated “smudge zone” at toddler height where Jam Hands have left their Dreadful Mark over the last three years. As my children have grown taller, the height of the smudge zone has increased – hell, consider it a kind of organic growth chart…  


Exhibit D: It's almost Monet-esque in its dappled beauty

And why restrict the smudge zone to just walls and doorways: check out this pane of glass on the door separating our kitchen from the front of the house…


Exhibit E: Looking at the world through smudge-covered glass

I should add that the freakiest thing about looking at this photo is that I have the added layer of smudge on my computer screen… and then the further layer of smudge on my glasses… not to mention the blear of sleeplessness over my eyes… Layer upon layer upon layer, just like a Sara Lee danish, except not nearly half as edible. 


Behold the wall next to Mr Justice’s bed!


Exhibit F: The Wall of Mysteries

It’s hard to tell from this distance, but I suspect a lot of those marks present a veritable smorgasbord of human excretia. But I wouldn’t get up too close if I were you – and I, as me, certainly haven’t. Quite clearly. 

And then there’s the burning question about what jolly japes an unattended toddler armed with a box of Crayolas might get up to. Well, my children have kindly answered that one for us:


Exhibit G: My budding Michaelangelos (as in the artist and not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle)

I love this photo because you can see the line where the book shelves used to be before I got sick to death of picking up all the books off the floor every day. Ah, good times. 


Every now and then I get the washing up and the laundry done in time to do one of the “extra” cleaning chores, such as wiping down the cupboards or dusting the mantel piece or maybe even the vacuuming. And then once in a blue moon, I do something stupid like remove the “Dust Baffle” at the bottom of the fridge…


Exhibit H: Where fridge magnets crawl off to die...

Or think to finally hang up the sodden bathmat and find this on its underbelly:


Exhibit I: Leave all bathmats unturned...

Yes, that really is what was underneath my bathmat. Obviously my hope here is that eventually the bathmat will grow its own legs and turn itself in at the nearest washing machine.  You see, there’s method in my slovenliness. 

And on that lovely note, here ends the photo essay. 

Of course, I’ve done this whole “flashing of our dirty bits” post with The Bearded Iris entirely on trust. I’m hoping that she’s not going to show me up by posting photos of neatly folded, freshly-laundered colour-coded towels in her linen cupboard claiming it’s a total mess because someone’s accidentally put one of the bath towels in with the beach towels. Or, worse still, this whole simultaneous post thing was part of some Department of Community Services international sting operation to get me to provide photographic evidence for their files. I wouldn’t put it past those tricksy DoCS officers. 

So, just in case I’m going it alone here, I’m inviting everyone to send in photos of their secret housekeeping shames to notdrowningmother@gmail.com – all photographic material received will be treated with the strictest confidence and the anonymity of the sender preserved. Unless of course you cross me  – in which case I’m going to expose your slipshod arse for All the World to see (if, that is, you consider “all the world” to be my readership-of-three, which I personally do). I’ll be waiting by my inbox, people… 

In the meantime, I’d like to wish all three of you a Happy New Year – may 2009 be a good one for one and all.

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The other day something disastrous happened: I got to the very bottom of the laundry baskets – which meant all the dirty laundry in the house was clean. “Well done, you”, some might say, patting me on the back in that patronising way that suggests they’re about to call me “The Little Lady” to my face. But there’s nothing “well done” about it because, let me tell you now, it puts me in a difficult situation. A very difficult situation indeed.  

What most people don’t realise is that in a house as well-organised as mine, the laundry baskets are actually an integral part of an elaborate storage system for clothes – along with the pile next to the master bed and those clothes stuffed down the side of the change table. We simply don’t have enough cupboard and drawer space in our house to comfortably accommodate all the clothes we own. And if they’re all clean and dried, you suddenly run the risk of having tall teetering piles of clean folded tshirts topple over and getting trampled underfoot (and under-sticky-foot at that) and having to be washed again, without being worn. I mean, with my three children and my load-a-day habit, I already run the risk of depleting the state’s already-dwindling water supplies without washing clothes that haven’t actually been worn. 

This is where having piles of dirty clothing around the house comes into its own. You see, it doesn’t matter what happens to them – they can be deployed in the construction of nests or mountain ranges in the kids’ rooms, used to wipe up the bird shit from the trampoline or even vomitted, pissed and shat on and it Does Not Matter: they are already dirty. Perfect!

Luckily, such crises are rare in my house. In so many ways, I’m blessed to have a child like The Pixie, who is often busier than a Japanese Bride with all of her changing of outfits every hour on the hour- even her underpants have to be changed. Tiddles, too, with his “Living Brush” approach to painting, food and clothing, also does his bit to avert a crisis. And then we have those delightfully halcyon nights with the kids where we churn through every clean set of bed clothes, towels and pyjamas faster than you can say “gastroenteritis”.

You might wonder, with all these things working in my favour, how I came to be in a crisis situation at all. Well, every now and then, there is an extremely rare event – perhaps even rarer than a total eclipse of the sun and certainly rarer than an Adam Sandler film that I would pay money to see – where high motivational levels coincide with a freak succession of sunny days. So at the end of the day, there’s no real need for panic – although crapping my own dacks in this situation surely could only help.

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