Keen To Clean

Every year, I feel an urge to do some spring cleaning, and thereby officially heralding the arrival of a favorite season.  This year, being cooped up and working at our kitchen island for days now really brought out the spring cleaning spirit, in steroids. 

I’m not sure if it was feeling guilty about watching a lot of TV during this shut-in period and wanting to compensate by doing something that made me roll up my sleeves, or the fact that I’ve been using the kitchen as my ersatz office so much that it really did need a good cleaning, or perhaps a sense that, with all of the hand-washing and sanitizing going on in the battle against the coronavirus, a good kitchen cleaning might aid the cause, just a bit.  Whatever the reason, I tackled the task of cleaning the kitchen with gusto: scrubbing the sink, the cabinets, the countertops, the stovetop, the oven, and the refrigerator, wiping down our appliances, sweeping the floor, and getting the windows, too.  I tried to clean every crack and crevice, and even emptied and wiped down the crumb tray in the toaster.

When I finished I felt good about my efforts, as I always do when I do a household chore.  The kitchen looked clean — for now, at least — and I could almost feel Mom’s spirit hovering in the air, nodding approvingly.

The smell of ammonia in the air — sniff! — smells like victory.

The Case For Making Your Bed

Every morning, just before it’s time to head off to work, I make the bed.  I pull the sheets taut, put the pillows back in their place, adjust the blanket so that it’s the same length on all sides of the bed, and make sure there are no wrinkles to be seen.  Making the bed is just part of the morning ritual that means I’m now ready to face the day — but apparently not everybody does it.

I read an interesting piece recently about the simple act of making your bed, and what it means. It’s entitled The Unmade Bed and the Fall of Civilization, which is a little over the top, but the essential point holds:  little things matter.  They’re not significant by themselves, but they can add up to big things — and it really doesn’t take much time to take care of them, when you think about it.

So why not do those little things?

Clean off your dishes and put them in the dishwasher, so they’re not left for your spouse or roommate to deal with, and then rinse down the sink.  Hang up your coat and your clothing rather than tossing them over a chair.  Put old magazines and newspapers into the recycling bin.  Pick up after yourself, and when you leave a room see that it’s tidy.  Take out the trash before the wastebaskets are full to overflowing.  And make your bed.

I was a total slob in college — who wasn’t? — but when I graduated and moved into the working phase of my life I decided I needed more order.  The best way to accomplish that was to start to do those little tasks myself.  I found that it not only made our place look better, it also made me feel better, both when I was doing those little chores and when I got home to a place that was neat and shipshape.  Doing those things made me feel like I was was pitching in, carrying my share of the household load, and actually behaving like an adult.  After college, that seemed like a worthy goal.  Now it’s all habit — but I still like the feeling I get when I do those little things.

So every morning, I make the bed.  And by the way, if you make the bed properly, when you climb back into bed at night you’ll find that the sheets are cool and inviting, even on a hot Midwestern summer evening.  It’s just one of the benefits of trying to live an orderly life.

 

Choreday

Saturday morning is, in my view, the best day and time for doing chores.

IMG_5437I’m one of those people who tends to feel oppressed by household work that needs to be done.  I walk past the patio stones dotted with yard debris knocked down by thunderstorms, or unfolded laundry, or dishes in the sink, and it bothers me.  It’s as if the very knowledge that the work is out there brooding and waiting to be done weighs me down.

Hence, the beauty of the productive Saturday morning.  You get up after an enjoyable Friday night, you make yourself a good cup of coffee, and then you get started.  You move from room to room and chore to chore, sweeping out the patio, loading the dishwasher and folding the laundry, assembling what needs to be assembled, putting away what needs to be put away.  By 10 a.m. you can look around, see that you have accomplished a lot, and then enjoy the rest of the weekend guilt-free.

For me, at least, there is real pleasure in tackling and completing household chores.