Thursday, August 18, 2011

confessions of a relaxed housewife

I married when I was 17.  Two days after I graduated from high school.  I just couldn't wait to get started on my life of romance and adventure with Stevie Wonder.

Then I realized.  I was a housewife.  I had to quit the part time job I had as a nurse's aide because we only had one car, and well, the Air Force kind of had this unrealistic expectation that Steve would report to duty everyday.  So I became a stay-at-home wife.  (Somehow, stay-at-home looks so much more important with the hyphens...)

I knew how to clean.  Mum had been very thorough in teaching us about cleaning the house.  But I didn't know how to cook.  Mum never let us.  I knew what to do with dishes after we ate, that was time for the wet towel wars (that's another confession).  But I couldn't cook.

And to be honest, other than keeping my clothes neat in my drawer most of my housecleaning experience was knowing how to keep the bathroom immaculate (my job was latrine duty...good training for living with a man with bad aim).  I didn't know how to do laundry either.  And that is definitely another story.

Over the years I developed my own housekeeping style.  Because I discovered early on that I would much rather be reading a book or learning a new crafting skill, than dusting furniture, cooking, or doing laundry.

Some dos and don'ts I learned that have served me well over the years:

1. Babies make great vacuums.  No matter how much you vacuum or mop, they will find the stuff you miss.  So don't bother buying a vacuum.  Just use your baby (I am on my second generation vacuum cleaner now, also know as grandbabies).  It will save you the cost of electricity, and develop the babies eye-hand coordination.

2. You can save the time ironing if you just wear your clothes straight from the dryer.  If you absolutely have to steam iron something, hang it in the bathroom while you take a shower.  It will be fresh as a daisy and so will you.

3. Cloth diapers make excellent coffee filters.  Just don't mention it to your husband.  A man who will pee in the bathroom floor rather than turn the light on to see to take aim, will become absolutely squeamish about drinking coffee filtered through his baby's diaper.

4. Don't buy a dining table.  It will only be used as storage for every tool your husband owns, and for anything else he carries in from outside.  ("Honey where's the duct tape?"...."on the table"...."honey where's my Skil saw?"..."on the table"..."honey where's the heartworm medicine for the dogs?"..."on the table"..."honey where's the..."..."on the TABLE".)  Eat on TV tables.  You have your meal and your entertainment at the same time.

5. Tea bags can be reused to make tea if you let them dry out in between uses.  About 3 times.  Then the bag disintegrates.

6. Kids can be bribed to do anything.  And if you can't bribe them, the second best thing to do is fake a nervous breakdown.  They will believe anything you tell them if you put enough drama into it.  This also works on a lazy twin grandson who makes his sister do all the work.

7. Doors were made for one thing.  To hide stuff behind.  If it's too big to hide behind a door, then put it in the room and shut the door.

8. Toothpaste makes a pretty good jewelry polish.  And it has the added benefit of making you smell minty fresh even if you've just chowed down on your favorite garlic-dripping pasta.

9. Never use Pledge furniture wax to polish the floors, then wear socks to walk on said floor.  You will end up horizontal.  Every time.  (I learned this from my dad.)

10. A room with dim lights gives you four corners to hide stuff in, especially if you live in the room and can't use the door (see #7).  I call this "hiding in plain sight" and unless you are trying to hide an elephant, it works.

These are just a few of my more innovative discoveries.  They make my life easier.  I share them gladly today, because what this world needs is more relaxed housewives.  I am sure that husbands will agree.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie
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