(This post is the first in a three-part series on getting our houses clean for good.)
I don’t know about you but I feel like I am always cleaning. And what reward do I get for my tireless efforts? More chores. Things seem to return to their formerly disgusting state faster than I can set down the duster.
I recently had to dig a piece of pillow “fluff” out of my gagging six-month-old’s mouth after he stealthily crawled his way under a chair and discovered it. And my daughter is beginning to look like a cross between Linus and Pig-Pen, dragging dirty blankets from room to room, using them to build forts or wearing them as superhero capes.
Surprisingly, most folks who visit my home comment on how clean it is compared to theirs, which is scary to me. The point is that it seems even the most caffeine-charged moms among us are struggling to keep from being buried under a mountain of housework.
Because I’m ever the optimist and I believe there must be a better way, I thought I’d start to solve this conundrum by researching why today’s “nests” seem so hard to maintain. (Plus I needed an excuse to take a break from cleaning.) I thought you might be interested in my findings.
The 1950s called. They want their paradigm back.
The average size of the American home in 1950 was 983 square feet. The average size of the American home in 2010 was 2,377 square feet. That’s a heck of a lot more space to clean!
In the 1950s, parents were accustomed to letting their kids play outside (often with neighborhood friends) for the majority of their free time at home. Less time with kids inside the house equals less mess.
And, of course, the primary role for the majority of women in the 1950s was to keep the house in order and take care of the children. Ladies, we’ve got a lot more going on these days.
We’ve taken a more-is-more approach.
In case you haven’t noticed, advertisers don’t refer to us as people. They call us consumers. They’ve gotten great at convincing us of what products we can’t live without. And we’ve gotten crappy at saying no to ourselves.
We have way too many things and nowhere to store them all. Our kids are whiny and selfish and we’re up to our eyeballs in debt. A cluttered house stuffed to the gills is just one symptom of a bigger problem. Why clean when we can shop for cleaning tools on QVC, right?
We’re sabotaged by distractions.
For most of us, cleaning is not fun. We’d rather be doing any number of a million other activities. And, unfortunately, today’s “death by entertainment” culture is all to happy to oblige.
It’s easy for us to avoid cleaning when we have so many important things to do, like watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey not clean their houses.
The verdict? As much as we would like to pass the toilet brush, we may have to take a long, hard look in the mirror and admit we are helping contribute to the mess in our homes.
The good news is that admitting we have a problem is the first step toward recovery (or so the psychologists tell us). So be sure to stay tuned. Later this week I’ll be sharing Step 2, which is to create a cleaning game plan that works and still lets us have a life.