Thursday 17 March 2011

Last-Minute Housekeeping Hints

Because I have a blog I now have the right to pontificate to you on how you should live your lives.  Right?  No, I'm not here to tell you how to run your household but to help you to not run it.  Because what is the point of being a stay at home mommy if you can't spend the entire day in front of your soaps eating bon bons?  Doing otherwise would be work and if I actually wanted to do work I would have jumped at the opportunity to get the hell away from my kids on a 9-5, five days a week basis.  However I sometimes have unexpected company and it would ruin everything if they found out that I'm not a self-righteous super-mommy who takes raising children and making a home to be sacred duties.

I felt like writing this bit on last-minute housekeeping because it can benefit not only stay at home mommies but also working fact every woman could use this advice.  This shit is universal.

So, you're in your pajamas and are totally hungover haven't finished your morning coffee yet.  There are piles of dishes in the kitchen from last night's dinner and the kids' breakfast that morning.  There are cheerios left all over the floor from the toddler and your older child has left a trail of clothing strewn about the house.  All of a sudden the phone rings and it's your mother-in-law/best friend/Children's Aid announcing that she will be dropping by to see the kids in about an hour.  There is just no way that your house can be in anything even approaching acceptable in just one hour. 

What do you do?  What do you do?

Most of what I learned about cleaning I learned from a master; my own mother.  Mummy Dearest is the Queen of the Illusion of Clean.  She is the one who taught me that it doesn't matter how clean you really are, it only matters how clean other people think you are. 

So here's how to do it:

Prioritizing is key or else you will waste your time paying attention to a smaller detail and leaving the bigger stuff less time.  Remember we are playing "Beat the Clock" here with very high odds.  Your Mommy creds are at stake.  So pick whatever mess is the biggest and most disgusting.  For me this is usually the never-ending pile of dishes (because my kids insist on being fed three times a day!).  Now obviously I don't have time to wash these dishes so there is really nothing else to do but hide them.

There are lots of great places to hide nasty, crusty dishes.  Some of my favourites are the inside of the oven,  under the bed or in the car.  For those of you who are apartment dwellers there is nothing as convenient as an out of season balcony.  I don't mention closets here because dishes look funny and out of place in them.  Your guest is much more likely to accidentally open a closet than she is to look inside your oven.  Save closet space for stuff like toys, coats, boots, shoes or...whatever else could be easily explained by the natural function of a closet.

Next you're gonna need to clear space.  As long as floors are visible people are less likely to notice other clutter.  Most living room junk can be relegated to a closet.  Books, unopened mail, magazines can simply be stacked neatly on a table and the rest can just be pushed into corners, shoved into end table drawers but not crammed under the couch.  You will be needing that under-the-couch space to sweep all cheerios, crumbs and other debris into because you don't want to waste precious seconds sweeping stuff into a dustpan and trying to deal with that stupid dirt line that gets infinitely smaller but never actually disappears.

The bathroom is important because it is a room that a) attracts the attention of other judgy women and b) allows your guest unsupervised time alone.  That means that she won't have your dazzling conversational skills to distract her from your less-than-dazzling home.  So take the time to wipe down the toilet seat and bathroom sink.  Then spend a few seconds buffing the fixtures to a shine, cleaning the mirror and stuffing the rest of the mess into the bathtub/shower behind the curtain.  With any luck the shiny stuff will distract her attention from how thick the dust is on the towel rack, the mildew stains on the ceiling or the little fingerprints on the walls. 

And if that nosy bitch opens the shower curtain to see whether or not you cleaned the pubes from your bar of soap then fuck her!  There is no amount of housecleaning that will satisfy someone like that so don't waste any more of your precious time worrying about it.

The following finishing touches should complete the deception.  Your filthy kids can be transformed with a little spit shine (you know, that nasty thing that mothers do when they lick their thumbs and erase smudges of dirt from their kids' faces) a bit of a brush and some hand-washing.  Those visible parts being clean are all that matters.  If they smell a little funky a little Febreze should do the trick but whatever you do, DO NOT FEBREZE YOUR HOME OR USE ANY OTHER SPRAY FRESHENER! 

You will ruin all your hard work if you do this.  Your guest smells that and she'll know immediately that you are fronting.  Everyone knows those sprays were designed to cover shit up.  Yes, your house smells bad (what did you think was going to happen when you stuff your dirty dishes under the bed?) but there is a way to fix that.

Instead go through the house with a bottle of lemon-scented furniture polish (for living areas) and a bottle of soap scum remover (for kitchens and bathrooms).  These products would be useless to me if all they were good for was cleaning.  No, I spray my rooms with Pledge and Tilex because they leave the impression that I was using those products for cleaning without actually cleaning anything.  Seriously, if you entered a home that reeked of bleach and lemons what would you think? 


Because you are short of time and are under pressure you will be sure to forget something.  You can be even more sure that the person to discover what you missed will be your guest.  In a situation like this it is important to blame your husband and children.  Sure, we all like to pretend to others that our families are perfect but not at our own expense!  If it comes down to a choice between your reputation and that of your husband or kids then do not hesitate to throw - no - shove them under that bus.  The most important thing is that you look good.  Any perceived imperfections in your family can be easily fixed by such a perfect mommy with such a clean house.  Besides, if you can't blame everything on your kids then why did you have them in the first place?

These tricks really do work because I use them all the time and I wouldn't bother with anything ineffectual.  For anyone who has graciously taken the time to read my blog I promise that, if ever you are in my home, you will be welcome to have a closer look around and see for yourself how totally awesome I am at this. 

Just don't tell my mother-in-law.


  1. Omg, this was AWESOME! Also? This is the third comment I've tried to leave (the one wrote on your post about saying fuck was hilarious, btw), but my phone keeps changing screens before they can post. Thanks for the award!

    1. Thank you! This is one of my favourites. I worry about this piece sometimes because I wrote it so long ago and I wonder if anyone ever reads it.

      Looking forward to your post on being a versatile blogger!