Why Did No One Tell Me Growing Up Involved So Much Cleaning?

When I was younger and I dreamt of having my own home I never realised just how much cleaning that would involve. For once I’m not complaining specifically about the amount of mess my children make (huge), or the amount of housework my partner does (a bit), but that absolutely everything in the house (and out) needs cleaning at some point. 

There are the parts of my house that get dirty instantly.  I can vacuum the floor and before I have even put my Shark away new crumbs and specks of who-knows-what appear as if by magic. Then there are the bath mats which my smaller two children seem to take it in turn to wee on at least once a week. And the kitchen surface? No sooner has it been cleared and wiped than it is repopulated with things again. This is all part of living with people (and young children) isn't it? 

A handful of odd socks found abandoned all over my house
Socks! Why are there always socks everywhere 

Some of the mess just baffles me. For instance the mystical socks that appear all over the house; sofas, floors, even the dining room table! I rarely wear socks myself, but the other members of the house happily wear them when we go out, but soon after arriving home have a desperate desire to free their feet, no matter where they are at that time they remember their besocked state. On the good days I find the abandoned socks and deliver them to the washing basket, but more often they get pushed around, stuffed down the sides of seats, knocked on the floor to hang out with the dust bunnies under the furniture or put in the toy boxes. One sock might make it to the washing if it is lucky, but based on the size of our odd sock bag it's partner in crime is often never to be seen again. 

What really surprises me though is all the dust and grime that builds up on every surface over time. The kitchen is testament to the amount of fried food we must have and the extractor fan and cupboard tops regularly get a build up of dusty grease. And dust, it ends up everywhere! I knew in principle that people dusted; I had probably seen a Mr Sheen advert on TV as a child or something. Yes of course tables and sideboards need dusting, but I didn’t really process that every single thing does: the top of the TV, the picture frames, the play kitchen, the lamp shades, even the shutters and the skirting boards. And plants? Who knew you had to dust plants (having been a plant killer for most of my life this is a fairly new realisation for me). I bet even my children would need dusting if they actually stayed still for 5 minutes. I’m not one for minimalism, but there is a definite appeal of having less things if it means less time dusting. The appeal of having a cleaner is stronger though. 

How many people when they choose new doors do so with the consideration of how much cleaning they will require? Well they certainly should! We have a lot of doors in our house: from the front door, to the internal room dividers to the kitchen cabinets, for some reason they are all ridiculous designs with recessed panels. Yes they might look nice, but panels mean there are extra surfaces that can collect dust. Give me a nice flat door any day. Although where would all the dust go if we didn’t have so many surfaces in our house? If we were minimalist, but still had our household of five plus a cat surely we would still create a lot of dust so where would it go? Does it mean the floors and door frames would have an extra thick layer in less time? It’s got to go somewhere hasn’t it? If there is another trick to having less dust without increased cleaning I would love someone to tell me. 

It's not just the dust, but the result of living with young children means that any surface they can reach (so roughly under 2 metres with their climbing skills) is dirty too. I don’t understand how, despite the frequent hand washing, they seem to have sticky fingers which have to touch EVERYTHING. This means that dust doesn’t just settle, it sticks and needs more than a quick vacuum to remove. 

Our house is harder work than some because it struggles with damp in places so we have an endless battle in the cooler months with moisture and mould. If walls and windows aren’t well ventilated they grow a frustrating level of fur which is a pain to clean off and probably not great to breathe either. The return of the cooler weather this past week has meant our window vac is back in action removing the condensation from our upstairs windows each morning. Our dehumidifier will need to be switched on again soon and I’ll be on mould watch until next summer. It’s no wonder the arrival of autumn doesn’t fill me with excitement.

Oh and I haven’t even touched on the bathroom yet (beyond those wee attracting bath mats). I always understood that bathrooms were a place to get clean, but I thought the dirt went down the drain with the water. If that’s the case why does everything in there get so dirty? The bath, the sink, the tiles in the shower, the shower curtain! It all needs regular cleaning. Why do we never realise (or appreciate) this when we are young? If I noticed at all I think I put dirt at home down to bad housekeeping, not realising that it is an endless and not very thrilling job that no one gets paid for doing in their own home. I admit there is some satisfaction to seeing a room or area transformed from hard work, but with time being in ever short supply it is just one more thing I have to try and fit in. And I'm a modern woman dammit, I shouldn't have to spend all my free time cleaning. Even with the, better than some, contributions made by my partner it feels like a losing battle.

I still dream of one day buying a bigger home with my must-be-coming-one-day lottery win. I want larger rooms with more space for everyone. Unfortunately I now know that dream homes come with nightmare cleaning efforts so my daydreams have been downsized. Or at least the house purchases always come with a full time cleaning team.

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