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Housekeeping and I are not friends

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Straightening out the clean routine

I am not known for my housekeeping skills. Or, rather, I am not known for the consistency of applying my housekeeping skills.

The house is not filthy or even particularly dirty, but the floor doesn't get scrubbed as frequently as it could and there is always at least one room that could stand a five-minute cleanup just to declutter.

The challenge is that there always seems to be something other than – better thanhousekeeping on the agenda for the day. I would much rather hang out with the kids, make a pie, read a book or have a quiet moment with my husband than tote the vacuum cleaner from room to room.

I refuse to send the kids off with their father for an hour or two of "fun" while I stay home to clean. I think that sends the wrong message about gender roles and household responsibility. We all live here and we all need to contribute in some way.

Even though we have instituted regular, or semi-regular, family cleanups, those primarily are for taking care of the surface clutter. Heavy cleaning still mostly falls to me, or to my direction. I've been trying to get a better handle on splitting up some of these true cleaning chores between the boys so they happen more regularly. The problem is my own impatience! Teaching the kids the right way to clean takes a bit of time of course, and when I am in a mood to clean I want to get through it quickly and have little patience for teaching. If I need to clean for whatever reason, there's usually not time for teaching.

There's also figuring out the right level of real cleaning appropriate to each of the kids' ages. I think there are certain chores that can rotate among Alfs, my husband and myself (cleaning the bathroom, for example), and some that can go straight to the kids (sweeping the porch, vacuuming). Some we can all pitch in on (putting together the weekly recycling trip, loading and unloading the dishwasher) and some are all mine (mopping the floors).  Then there are my total hang-ups: my husband, bless him, does most of the laundry folding, and the boys often have sock-sorting duty. I have some kind of a mental block when it comes to folding laundry. I just hate it. I can sort the laundry and get it all through the washer and dryer, but the folding. Ick.

Someday I'll get the whole household management, including cleaning, figured out. With any luck, it will be before the kids go off to college and I have to do it all myself anyway.

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