Mediocre Housekeeping

14 Jun 2021

Magazines thrive on the dreams and aspirations of their readership. Yachting magazines are bought by people whose boating experience is limited to the rowing boats in the local park. Magazines devoted to luxury supercars are read by people who don’t even own a modest car.


Good Housekeeping has evolved over the years, and now is aimed at a somewhat different, younger readership. This means that along with photos of elaborate meals we will never cook, cosmetics we can’t afford, we have the inspirational stories. There’s no getting away from it, there are many remarkable women. The mothers of large families who have a brainwave for a business innovation, get it up and running while still breastfeeding their youngest. The women who have mastectomies, and see the gap in the market for a new kind of bra. Truly, good for them. There is nothing wrong with setting ourselves some goals, even if they are no more ambitious than baking a new kind of Victoria sponge.


Now though, there are the magazine and online gurus of tidiness and cleaning who have attracted an army of followers, making themselves a fortune into the bargain. Really, good luck to them. They have taken their OCD and made something out of it. I would do the same, but I can’t see any easy way of turning my chronic anxiety, exhaustion and depression into a money-maker. 


An English “influencer” called Mrs Hinch mentioned a brand of cleaning cloth, which promptly led to the company’s website crashing as stocks were sold out. You may feel as I do, that a kitchen cloth is just that, a bit of damp spongy fabric to run over your worktops. Wrong, it is a symbol of female empowerment and the serious responsibility we have to not only wipe our worktops down, but to do it with the correct cloth, as used by Mrs Hinch. Only then can you be sure that you and your family are safe from dishcloth-related harm.


Cleanliness means different things to different people. I strip the beds every 2 weeks, my neighbour does hers weekly, a friend has rarely changed her bedding this year. Full oven and window cleaning are rare events in our household, but loos are bleached daily, worktops likewise. We have fresh bathroom towels every week. A friend has 3 adult children at home. All shower at least once a day, and cheerfully drop the towels into the laundry bin after one use. When she suggested that they might like to re-use them the response was “Ughh, how gross, that’s disgusting”.


One of the things that has got me down most during the pandemic has been guilt that even my modest standards have slipped. I have been so bone-tired that some days I have done no chores other than make the bed. Thinking about the things I should be doing has caused quite disproportionate guilt, self-hatred even. It’s such a dilemma, I need rest, but then things don’t get done so I feel even worse. My partner does pitch in, but he has his work, he’s the breadwinner, so I feel bad about that too.


Do you feel that in order to feel good about yourself, your house must be something you are proud of?


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