Monday, March 7, 2016

On Cleaning

Just because you happen to be female does not make you an expert on laundry.  

(In case you ever had that very naive thought...)

Case in point: I've (actually, we've) been loading our HE, top-loading, washing machine the wrong way for the better part of 2-1/2 years.  It wasn't until my husband was chatting (read: semi-venting) with a local Home Depot guy that he discovered the error of our ways - that, and the fact we never read the owner's manual or have ever previously owned a "fancy" new HE washer:

It doesn't look too complicated, does it?  Yep...

This past month, Upworthy shared this ad from a laundry detergent brand out of India called Ariel.  See here.
Of course, the ad's goal is to sell their product but it also addresses the inequality many women face when it comes to taking care of their homes.  It plays out as a letter of apology from father to daughter.

I don't know of any family/couple/housemate that share(s) household chores perfectly (unless maybe they have a kick-ass-stick-with-it chart or hire it out) but cleaning, maintaining our living spaces, and caring for one another is everyone's job.  And we all, probably at some time or another, owe everyone we know a letter of apology when it comes to cleaning.

Ever cringed at an office refrigerator/microwave?  Should/would you expect only the females in the office to look after it?  No!  It's no different at home, my friends! It's everyone's job!

What saddens me (in 2016!) is that cleaning and gender are still an issue: Why is cleaning/doing the laundry to so many still considered a female role?   

Last time I checked, not every home has a female in it  - there are lots of single or partnered males (dads or not) out there working full-time and doing (gasp!) laundry.  And, if your full-time job is managing a home (female or male) you're still gonna need help and in many cases, more so than others - does it matter if it's a man or a woman helping you?  

In my washing-machine-example above, you might not want it to be me...

Does this mean female partners or female roommates have clean laundry all time?  Um, no!  Do male roommates always have dirty laundry? No, well...maybe (kidding!).

Regardless of your individual situation, we all need help.

Straight couples, gay couples, single moms/dads, blended families, singletons, roommates, house-shares, no kids/10 kids, pets/no pets, etc. - everyone needs to help with the damn laundry...and dishes, yard work, trash, and on and on.  

At the very least, know how to do it (whatever that "it" may be) - chances are, you might need to pinch hit for your partner one day.  Or, you may find yourself on a desert island.  A desert island covered with piles of dirty clothes and a very complicated washing machine because the raft you'll need to weave with said clothes will only float when cleaned with Tide.  

Of course, Tide!

The HE version of Tide.

Don't call me.

I love how Jolie Kerr (author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha) defined it in an interview she did with Terry Gross on Fresh Air a few years ago. "I see cleaning as a human problem, not a gendered problem..."  Listen to it here - you'll laugh and get lots of practical tips.

I am not a perfect keeper-o-the-house (again, see above).  God knows many of my past roommates would happily volunteer that info!

What defines "clean" also varies from person to person; the point is that we all make some kind of an effort.  Cleaning is (to me) a kinda personal thing.  I prefer cleaning with music blaring, bad singing (me), and questionable dancing (also me) - which is why I probably didn't whole-house clean a lot in front of my past roommates... 

Also, life often dictates cleaning schedules.  Got a tight deadline at work, sick child, paper to write?  That pile of clothes just might have to wait a bit.  Even better, ask that loved one

I'm not sure how evenly my husband and I divvy things up, but like a lot of couples, we try.  Overall, I think we succeed.  Do we both do laundry, dishes, cook, mow the yard?  Yes.  Are there some weeks when one of us is more productive around the house than the other?  Of course.  Are there certain chores one of us is better at than the other or enjoys more?  Yep. But, skill is often irrelevant - getting it done is not.

Anyway, what I took away from the laundry ad above was this:  
Get off the damn sofa and always choose people over the TV!  :-)  
Apologize if you've been a slack-ass.
Ask for help.  
And Little Ones, play "house" to your heart's content but always know it should never mean that you are in it alone - unless you choose to be (and that's awesome too!).  
Playing house is an equal opportunity game.  Maybe some of us haven't always known this, but it's been true all along. 

Now, off to see if I can get my beagles to use the vacuum,

ps - updated:  true to internet form, I read these two articles right after I hit the post button:

Why you're probably washing your clothes all wrong love Clark Howard! :-)

And, how to (not) do it all with two kids...

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