Meditation or Chore?

My husband and I have had housecleaners longer than I can remember, although that’s a fairly low bar with my sieve-like memory. I do know we didn’t have them when the kids were little because I’m a compassionate person and wouldn’t subject anyone to that.

I think probably the change officially came when the kids mostly moved out and I didn’t have a live-in staff I could boss around any longer. My husband never really responded to my threats of grounding him if he didn’t dust the living room.

“Wait. Let me understand this. So I don’t have to dust AND I don’t have to go anywhere? You’re the best wife EVER!”

We were able to get by with just monthly cleanings until we got our remarkably hirsute roommate.

nala for chicks

Then we had to ramp it up to every other week.

For those of you who haven’t heard me tell this story 4,367 times, Nala was my son’s dog when he was stationed in Guam. But when he got orders to Bahrain, he couldn’t take her. There were many phone calls that went an awful lot like this:

Jeff: So … only eight weeks until I ship out …

Me: What will you do with Nala?

Jeff: Oh, I don’t know. I’m working on some things….

Jeff: So … only seven weeks until I ship out …

Me: What will you do with Nala?

Jeff: Oh, I don’t know. I’m working on some things….

Jeff: So … only six weeks until I ship out …

Me: What will you do with Nala?

Jeff: Oh, I don’t know. I’m working on some things….

Jeff: So … only five weeks until I ship out …

Me: SEND ME THAT DOG IMMEDIATELY.

Jeff: Finally! That’s the thing I’ve been working on.

Our housecleaners have kept us from twisting our ankles due to the sheer depth of the hairscape on our floors.

At least until the pandemic. No housecleaning, so hubs and I had to figure out what needed to be done and how often, and then we divvied up the chores. Some stuff he likes, some stuff I like, and some neither of us likes so we alternate those. It’s been working out just fine.

I realized not too long ago that we perfectly illustrated the yin and yang of an almost-36-year marriage.

While we still had the cleaners coming, I heard him one Sunday vacuuming the wood floor in the den where the dog hair is most visible. The morning sunlight streams in, highlighting the patina of fur coating the parquet like glitter on a preschoolers Mother’s Day card. Personally, I don’t like to disturb the magnificence of this phenomenon. I close the blinds or simply return to my coffee in the other room, reminding him, “The housecleaners are coming on Wednesday.”

He said, “I know! The housecleaners aren’t coming until Wednesday!”

If this makes you think I don’t like to vacuum, you’d be wrong. It’s quite possibly my favorite chore. But only on the carpet.

It’s very meditative. Peaceful. Rhythmic. Deliberate. Immediate.

I love analyzing the floor plan of each room—taking into account the constantly evolving miscellany I have no intention of moving—to choose the best electrical outlet for optimum cleaning area to avoid traipsing over newly pristine carpet to replug.

I love calculating what percentage of my time is spent trying to get the vacuum to pick up a piece of thread rather than simply bending over and picking it up with my fingers. I will not be swayed, however. We bought a machine to handle this chore. I don’t drip hot water through my fingers to make coffee. I don’t bake brownies on my feverish brow. I don’t wash my dirty dishes in the shower while I bathe. And I don’t clean my carpet with my fingers. No matter what.

I love exercising my brain cells to figure out the pattern whereby I can back out of the room with perfectly napped carpet.

I love the thrill of the gamble to see how close I can get to the dangling cords of the mini-blinds without sucking them into the machine.

And when you’re done, you have this loveliness. At least until you need something across the room. But seriously …. do you really need it? I didn’t think so.

carpet
Definitely not my carpet, but doesn’t this just soothe your soul all the way to Tuesday and back again?

Using my Swiffer comes a close second. The difference is that you can’t see evidence of your accomplishment until the very end when, with horror in your eyes and a wrinkle on your nose, you see the filth on the cloth even though hubs vacuumed just moments before.

But then you cuddle the dog, watch the cascade of hair in the sunlight, and it all becomes insignificant again.

What chores do you hate? Which do you love? Do you find vacuuming relaxing?

51 thoughts on “Meditation or Chore?

  1. I don’t mind vacuuming as much as cleaning the kitchen floor, although I wouldn’t say I find it particularly relaxing. And I definitely don’t do it as often as I should. I could say that about most chores though!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Marla, I felt the same way about mopping floors, until I got a bucket that spins the mop and suddenly mopping has become hands-free nearly. It was one of those items that you buy that are life altering. Now, mop something, no problem.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have one of those mops with a tank you fill with whatever and then you just squeeze the handle. And the cloth part you can get throwaways or washables. I love it. I like mopping too, for kinda the same reasons as vacuuming, but it’s more complicated with a dog around. Nala tends to stay away while I’m using the vacuum!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t mind vacuuming, but I like to hand wash dishes. There is a window over the sink and I watch the wildlife in my back yard. Bears, deer, turkeys, birds of all kinds and an occasional bobcat grace my little corner of the world. It gives me peace.
    I hate dusting, but I love the end result, so I do it anyway. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I can’t remember the last time I washed dishes by hand. When we were in college my husband got a job at a printshop and then we bought one, so washing dishes has always been the way he cleans the ink off his hands. Like you, though, I have a great view from my kitchen window that inspires and calms me. Bears, of course, would not calm me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We have a dishwasher. but only use it after dinner parties. I’m the dinner cook and Robin washes the dinner dishes in the morning, but since I clean as I cook, it’s usually not that much (except after aforementioned dinner parties, when the glassware triples or quadruples in number).

        Liked by 3 people

      2. We have a dishwasher too, which we don’t have to run but every few days with just the two of us. But there always seems to be stuff that won’t fit, or stuff we know we’ll need before we run the dishwasher again. We have that same perfectly equitable division of labor: if I cook, Wes cleans … and if Wes cooks, he cleans then too.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Our house is small and the kitchen doesn’t have a lot of cabinets. I thought that I needed the space a dishwasher would take up, for big items like my crock pot and blender and such. I do miss it on holidays, but for everyday, we are just fine.

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      4. Truth be told, we’d probably be okay without our dishwasher too, but hubs doesn’t want to find out! Lots of times it doubles as a big, expensive drying rack.

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    1. While I do love a nicely made bed, I never make mine. It seems like such a waste of time. I’m just going to get back in it tonight! We don’t have much humidity here in CO, but i heard once you SHOULDN’T make your bed because it’s what the dust mites want you to do. Can’t remember why, but if you need an excuse to forego this chore, talk to some dust mites!

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I compromise – I leave the bed unmade for a few hours then go back and make it (since I work at home, I usually don’t get cleaned up for a couple hours after I wake, so this works for me).

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Absolutely. I think I think the world is divided into two types of people. Those people who make their beds daily, no matter what, and those people who can live with an unmade bed. Having a made bed brings order to my life. I’ve been known to make my side while my husband is still sleeping.

      Liked by 5 people

  3. I love Swiffering. I could swirl that thing all day. I’m ok with vaccuuming, too, but our vacuums always break, so our current one is literally held together with bungee cords. Fave cleaning task: laundry. Nice and contained. I hum Tiny Bubbles…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That Swiffer is so satisfying. On the days I need to mop the wood floor downstairs, Wes vacuums, and then I immediately swiffer. It’s astounding how much more dirt there is on the floor!

      I don’t mind doing laundry, but I have so little these days. I maybe do a load every 10-14 days. I quit doing my kids’ laundry when they were in elementary school because I went to put their clean clothes away one time and they hadn’t even put away last week’s! If they didn’t care, why should I? And hubs has always done his own laundry. And, of course, I barely wear clothes, especially these days!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I detest doing the floors–vacuuming, mopping, sweeping. But luckily Robin’s happy doing that, so it’s now her thing. We have a very sheddy dog, too, so it should really be done every few days, but it usually ends up being much longer than that. Luckily no one’s coming to visit these days, so it’s only we two who have to live with her hair (Ziggy doesn’t seem to mind).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Isn’t it great, that yin and yang of communal living? When I was a kid we had this lovely antique table that was all legs and curlicues. It was my job to dust it and I HATED it. When my mom downsized and I had my own house and daughter, I inherited that table and made her dust it. Unfortunately she grew up and moved far enough away that weekly dusting became impossible to enforce, so it’s come full circle, back to me dusting it. Luckily my standards aren’t quite as exacting as my mother’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Becky! I’m at peace with a certain amount of dust (a lot!). My least favorite chore is ironing — so I don’t, except for very special occasions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m at peace with plenty of dog hair, dust, and grime, but I do love ironing. I grew up sewing so the ironing board was always set up. I started out ironing my dad’s handkerchiefs and again, like with vacuuming, it was so satisfying to see the transformation. As I got older, I graduated to ironing my dad’s dress shirts for work. Those were trickier, but I got pretty good at it. Now, though, there’s hardly anything that needs to be ironed so it’s becoming a lost art, I suppose. My iron and ironing board is always set up in my workshop because I use it when I make purses. I will say, it’s also very handy just to run in there and iron the front placket on a shirt that didn’t get out of the dryer soon enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So many funny things in here, Becky. I will try to channel your zen vacuuming approach next time!

    Dusting makes me crazy because no matter how much I do it, the dust still clings to certain surfaces. I do appreciate the feeling of Having Dusted, which is admittedly more conceptual than effective sometimes for the aforementioned reason.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ugh. Dusting. All those tricky nooks and crannies. I’ll file “Having Dusted” into my “Righteous” file. It’ll hang out with “Having Written,” “Having Exercised,” and “Practiced the Piano.”

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  7. I am SO missing my cleaning service! I’m about to cave in and have them come while I leave the house. My back makes vacuuming painful, but I kind of like to dust. I dust all my books anyway because the cleaners don’t consider them as important as I do. My favorite was a woman we had in Dallas who loved our house because it had so many books in it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dusting books …. Kaye, that sounds exhausting! Now I’m having sympathy sneezes and feeling guilty for the state of my books. Tell you what, I’ll vacuum for you if you’ll come dust my books.

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  8. Hilarious, Becky!

    I wish I shared Lisa and Leslie’s love of laundry. (Such enviable alliteration!) It’s the chore I absolutely dread. Emptying the dish washer is a close second (I see you, Grace!) The kids are great about pitching in on housework, although it’s a divide-and-conquer situation because otherwise they spend the whole time arguing over technique, supplies, who did what last time, etc.

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      1. When they were little, I used a Chore Hat a la the Sorting Hat. (Dom’s a big Harry Pottery fan.) They thought it was fun seeing what chores they’d “get” to pick from the hat. Then they got wise to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I always thought it would be fun to spin one of those big chore wheels a la Wheel of Fortune. It would have all the chores, but also “day off! eat ice cream” and “swap chores with a sibling” and “uh oh … double chores. spin again.” Well, fun for me, that is.

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  9. Love your canine roomie!

    A chore I actually enjoy is washing the dishes. There’s something about changing something from dirty to sparkling clean in minutes that I enjoy. Dusting on the other hand…

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    1. Yes! Because unless something has years of dust on it, cleaning it only makes it a shade better. hardly noticeable. But vacuuming, dishes, laundry … you KNOW you’ve done some good work there. When hubs and I were first married, I pushed paper at an insurance company and he was a printer. At the end of the day he could point at what he’d accomplished. I was so jealous of that. Dusting is the equivalent of pushing papers in the claims dept of a big ins company.

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  10. Dyson V11 Animal is WELL WORTH THE MONEY!! Fabulous. Works great on floor and carpet. Only problem is you have to empty it a lot with all of that hair. I also have one of those spin mops.

    Liked by 1 person

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