You don’t have a cleaning problem, but you may have a lighting problem

“Don’t stress in happymess. Bright and white is impolite. Grey is okay. A candle is the only way”

Mr Simple to Ms Simple

One of the greatest burns on our family time, and a source of a good number of discussions and debates, is house cleaning. There is just so much that could be, should be done and needs to be done. It’s not that we don’t like a clean, clutter free house. We do, but we don’t want to spend most of our free time picking up and cleaning. Is there a utopia? A half way point between spic and span and a cockroach infested den of disease? Can we find our happymess?

Three areas that we are focusing on in this quest are:

1)      Dividing tasks between ‘what must be done’, ‘what should be done’ and ‘what could be done’.

2)      Simplifying routines for tasks that that must be to be done so that they are completed effectively and efficiently.

3)      Discovering if there are any ways that we can eliminate the need to do, should do, or must do tasks.

4)      Learning to let go of what could be done and putting that time and mental energy to better use.

I have often heard females colleagues complain that their man ‘doesn’t see what needs to be done’ so they feel the need to constantly encourage or nag him to do more of the cleaning. This is really a difference of opinions about what must be done, should be done and could be done. More harmony should result if both are on the same page about which tasks fall into each of these categories. By agreeing what must be done you can ensure that the workload for the essential cleaning is shared more evenly.

We’ve identified the following must be dones in our hovel:

Dishes – as soon as we’ve eaten

Laundry – at least twice per week (cloth nappies everyday)

Bedding – changed weekly

Floors and counter tops – wipe down after any meal and cleaned thoroughly at least once per week (but the floor around the babies feeding chair needs to be cleaned after every meal. He’s a messy pup!)

Shower, bath and toilet – at least once per week

Picking up, packing up and putting away – as soon as we’ve finished with it

On top of that there is a lot of other scrubbing, disinfecting, cleaning and washing that could be done.

Why do we feel this compulsion of scour and scrub. It does not appear to relate to our own desires. More so how others may perceive us. There is also a strong expectation, probably created by manufacturers of cleaning products, that a hygienic home is white and bright. We are made to feel bad if surfaces don’t glisten or our counter tops dull from extensive use.   If our house is not white and bright we are dirty, lazy slobs. Friendless social isolates!

Two generations ago people didn’t scrub their floor with Ajax on a toothbrush. It wasn’t solely to do with multinational corporations foisting products. It was fundamentally because we didn’t have the ‘white and bright is right’ myth pervading our domestic existence. White and bright is an invention that was impossible until Edison. Before the lightbulb we lived by candle light. I’ve certainly noticed how the dimmer the lights the more grey is okay. So my pro premium cleaning tip: Replace your electric lights with candles and disappear some of the dirt in your house!!.

Also, because a lot of tidying and cleaning is for visitors I recommend managing appearances whenever possible. Some simple tips are:

  1. Put dirty dishes in the oven (out of sight) if you don’t have time to do them before visitors pop in. Visitors –dirty dishes-think oven.
  2. Always dust your TV – if it is the centre of most rooms and people will notice dirt and dust more than in other places.
  3. Always keep your doorstep and hallway clean and clear of clutter. First impressions and all that.
  4. Bust cleaning down into daily small tasks. Avoid the big weekend recovery clean. Or the mother-in-law is coming over emergency clean.
  5. Realise an overly clean house is actually very impolite.

Wait let me explain that last one (Ms Simple disagrees by the way)…If you visit a friend and they have a very clean house you feel bad. You think gosh they do all this work, raise three children and keep their home spotless! What failures we are!  On the other hand if their house were messier than yours you’d feel better about yourself. The secret thought ‘God they live in a tip. At least our place isn’t this grimy!’ would likely cross your mind…and so having a cleaner house than your friends makes them feel inadequate. Knowingly making someone feel inadequate is impolite and by SIMPLE logic a bright and white house is therefore very impolite and highly unacceptable.

Free yourself from over cleaning. Take a box of candles home tonight for your special someone.


Don’t stress in happymess. White and bright is impolite. Grey is okay. Candles are the only way…

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