Dust Bunnies and Cleaning Fairies

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I wasn’t born to clean. I was born to live, laugh and create. That at least was the plan, and then I got married to a man with a selective vision. It’s fascinating how it works, one minute he sees just fine, the next he can’t see dirt or dust. 

Fortunately, he married a young woman who considered cleaning an absolute waste of time -we were made for each other. Back then I invented “sight cleaning.” I cleaned everything that could be seen at first sight, the rest I tugged away under beds and hid in closets.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” works like a charm. I also started to believe in the cleaning fairy. Sure she would come by one day.

We bought our first house and we started our first real jobs. We were gone all day long and tired in the evening. Only the Sunday was left and we used it for relaxation. We met friends who had the same problem. Life was good and life was messy. Dust bunnies moved in and multiplied.

Quickly I learned that WE  is a synonym for I. There was no WE when it came to cleaning. WE need to clean the house, actually, means I have to clean the house. I am not really sure how he did it, but it worked -for a while.

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Then I called STRIKE! There is no “I” in team I explained and stopped doing the dishes. I even quit sight-cleaning.

It was chaos.

I talked with my mother-in-law, thinking she might provide me with the miracle we needed, but she didn’t.

“Didn’t you do chores when you were a child,” she asked me, and I told her about all the things I had to do. Are you kidding me? I was a child on a farm. I was a pupil in boarding school. My life back then was filled with chores. I was cheap labor for everybody who seemed to need it and they handed me around.

“Cleaning is a chore, not more and not less.” “If you love to clean you don’t have a life,” she added and it made sense.

I developed a checklist that I still use to this day. There are things I have to do daily, others I have to do weekly and monthly, and then there is a seasonal list that needs to be taken care of.

The cleaning fairy never showed up. Turns out it’s a myth just like Santa, only the dust bunnies are real.

My husband still can’t see the dirt, but he helps now. I have chores and he has a honey-do-list that he loves to work on. The cleaning checklist is on our fridge and he chips in because he might be blind to dirt, but he can read!

Our house is clean, not because we love to clean, but because we love our home.

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13 thoughts on “Dust Bunnies and Cleaning Fairies

  1. You are truly in a caring and, in this case perhaps more importantly, mutually beneficial relationship. Lucky you! My spouse and I have worked out a similarly equal arrangement, but in ours he cleans his half of the house and I clean mine. Most of the time neither one of us comments on the state of (non) cleanliness in the other’s half, though spouse will sometimes say something if we are expecting company. Last time this happened was when our daughter came for the holidays. She arrived a day early and when I told her I needed to vacuum she told me, bless her heart, that I didn’t need to do that on her account. Bless her heart, she thinks of our current residence as her home even though she’s never lived here. Of course the place where she now lives is not often really clean, but she has her cat and her own long hair to contend with there. This is the daughter I think of as mini-me, though cleaning is not high on the priority list of either of my two girls.

  2. I can count on Gilles to help clean up the kitchen and do laundry (strange that neither of us mind doing laundry) but beyond that I’m on my own. Unfortunately I do have an aversion to untidiness and dust. Add cat hair to it and it will make me crazy.
    I had a cleaning lady when I was working full-time and it was an indulgence that I missed greatly when I stopped working. I hired a cleaner after my surgery in November and loved it! Even though I am virtually back to normal, I’ve decided that having a cleaner come in once a month to bring everything back into my comfort level is an indulgence I’m prepared to make.

    • My husband is not allowed to do laundry, he messed up too many times.

      We have dogs, I know what you mean. The feather duster seems to be attached to my hip.
      I am debating about a cleaning lady since years.Once or twice a months, I think that would be great -I just never got to it.

    • My husband is not allowed to touch clothes, he messed up too often.

      I am debating on a cleaning lady since years, but never got around to actually doing it.

      We have dogs, so I know what you mean. The swiffer duster seems to be attached to my hip these days.

      • I’m a pretty private person so I’m not exactly thrilled about having someone come into my home and clean … but I like the end result so I’m willing to make the sacrifice 🙂

  3. I do all the cleaning, Bridget, and I’m not very committed to it. UGH. The husband works so I can stay home and write, which I love. The unspoken deal is that I do the housework. I’ve tried lists and keep it up for a while and then… it fades away. I love the way you went on strike! Ha ha. It sounds like you have a good system now and the husband well trained!

  4. An Brit married to a Swiss – work that one out, but it works. I moved to a country where they hung the bed linen out of the window in the morning. I did not, Somehow we also found our “gemeinsamen Nenner” (no idea the english word) and it now works. We are both retired and do it all 50 50. Since I am no longer as active as I was (MS) he even does a little more, although I try not to do less -it is too easy to give up too soon. Anyhow it works, and although I am not the house fairy, I discovered that the more regularly you do it, the less there is to do when you do it. Sounds muddled, but it works.

  5. You’ve got you a good husband. And you’re a good wife. My hubby refused point blank to ever do anything housework related unless he was nagged to death. I took your road and stopped cleaning eventually to try to stress to him that since he was home 24/7 (disability) and I worked a 40+ hour week, he could at least vacuum and do a few dishes. Pick up his dirty clothes. And it was indeed chaos, just like your story. He died, so I suppose in a sense he ‘won’ the battle of who was going to do housework, but he left a legacy. I got used to being very relaxed in my attitude toward the dust bunnies of the world and my house is not clean to the degree it was prior to my marriage. I doubt I’ll ever get that particular zest for the job back either. Now I hire someone wonderful named Maria, who comes in twice a month and kills the bunnies. Cleans the bathrooms and makes the floors sparkle. Wish I could afford her more often, but it is what it is. And a single woman and a chihuahua don’t make that much mess…

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