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


  1. Dogs make effective vacuums too! And I always put my clothes in the dyer to get the wrinkles out! lol Loved your list. Great post :)

  2. You are a character and a very wise one, at that.

  3. Awesome post, gf! Many of your methods are very familiar to me :)

  4. Glad to see some symmetry to my way of would be scary to be alone in this world...

    Thanks for the comments Jessica, Thom and Jerene.

    I do understand about dogs btw. They are also great for licking the crumbs off my lap and chest as I get out of the car when I have been sneak eating on the way home. :D

  5. Wise, smart and practical you are! Made me smile and laugh....

  6. Cathy,

    You had me laughing through this whole post.
    I think if I were married to your man I would have left him within a week. I mean really he can't piss properly. Arggggg

    How bold you are my love.


  7. Very good advice. I totally agree with your ironing strategy (I stopped ironing a long time ago...).
    As for men, they are all the same :-)))

  8. Love your list...and your thinking! I was laughing all through reading it. I could have done with some of these gems of wisdom several years ago!

    Wonderful post :)

  9. Great list, hilarious post! Love my dogs for cleaning up the kitchen floor - no toaster crumbs, etc. My hubby just gagged at the baby diaper/coffee filter idea, guess you're right. Years ago when my critical mother-in-law was due for a visit I'd stuff all my dirty dishes in the oven - worked well as long as I remembered to remove them prior to turning oven on. :D

    I'm following your blog and looking forward to future posts.

  10. BTW - love your flickr site - wonderful photos - I'm now a contact.

  11. Words of a wise woman indeed! I particularly loved surprise there cos I'm a drama queen! ;-)

  12. Great post Cath! I can totally relate to the dining table one lol

  13. @Savira and @Finding One's Way: I am glad I made you laugh, and yes I might have left him if he didn't make ME laugh so much. So I stuck around. For the laughs. :D

    @MuMuGB: Yes, I agree. Clothes and men are better left unpressed.

    @Bec Owen: Believe me when I say it took lots of trial and error to discover these things. And not all were successful. But they have kept me relaxed over the years. :)

    @Mari Sterling Wilbur: I am laughing out loud reading your comments. I've used the oven for storage too. And turned it on with Tupperware inside. :D Thanks for adding me as a contact on Flickr. My photos will never be as good as yours (I've been reading your posts too :D) but I am trying to learn. It's a daily struggle. :)

    @Joy Page Manuel: Drama queens run in my family Joy, and I have the tiara to prove it! :D

    @Lalia: Thank goodness someone else in America has a dining table like mine (used for everything BUT dining). That is why we eat a lot of barbeque here. You can eat it standing up. :D

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments y'all. I love reading them and laughing along with you. It is as much fun for me as writing the post!
    ~cath xo

  14. Very wise! I like to combine #2 and #7 and hide things in the washing machine and dryer. For that matter, we hide things in the oven because it never gets used for anything else. :)

  15. You were my kind of housewife, Cath! ;p

  16. A LOL post, Cath. Your aim is really good, honed by years of experience. So good that in fact, why not consider writing a short e-book about housekeeping - your way?

  17. Relaxed housewives do have the most brilliant ideas now... don't they! You should definitely do that e book on housekeeping as Penelops suggests..will be so much fun! :)

  18. Funny, funny post. I keep telling my son that the only reason you have children is to have a personal sherpa when they get older.

  19. How'd I miss all those comments? :D

    @Karen: I have actually hidden things in the dryer before...then forgot and turned it on...think the cat was in there one time...we called her Fluffy ever after that... :D

    @sweepyjean: I guess that means you are relaxed too? :D

    @Penelope: an e-book about housekeeping? I am afraid I would have to PAY people to read it...there is only so much vacuumbabies and butter beans you can talk about you know. :D

    @Hajra: oh not you too! I am not a writer...just a purveyor of loose thoughts thrown out randomly. :D

    @BornStoryteller: You are raising your son the RIGHT way Stu! :D

    Thanks so much for all the comments...I always read and appreciate every one!

    ~cath xo

  20. HAHAHA! Cathy, this post totally made my day! In a way, I'm also a "housewife" that can't cook. I've learned about not having a dining table the hard way -- so excited to be implementing these other tips. =) You are my hero!! =)

  21. @Samantha Bangayan Well gee Samantha thanks. I may just have to come up with a sequel. :D
    ~cath xo

  22. Hmm... I see we subscribe to the same housekeeping philosophy! ;)

  23. @Beckey yes, the more relaxed the better! :D