02 June 2011

Cleaning Conundrum

So I have been dealing with this small problem…my husband is too good. I know, it doesn’t sound like much of an issue, but hear me out.

I have this slight obsession with a having a clean house. It’s quite important to me, which Jacob understands, and therefore he supports me completely. During the week little chores are done, but the big stuff is saved for the weekend. Every Saturday we work together on “Saturday’s cleaning.” I put together a “To-Do” list…just the normal things, you know, like:

1: Clean the bathrooms
2: Vacuum the carpets
3: Scrub all the baseboards with a toothbrush.

Jacob starts with such a good attitude; he jumps into “the list” whole-heartedly, prepared to help me check everything off. Then something like the following happens (this is just ONE specific incident that happened…it has been repeated in many different forms):

We are cleaning the kitchen and, as I scrub on the sink, I notice that the blinds in front of me need dusting. I start wiping the blinds and realize they aren’t going to get as clean as I want them unless I take them out of the window and really work on them. In taking the blinds down, I see how dirty the window is, which leaves me wanting to clean the window track too. Pretty soon, Jacob has removed the window screen AND the window and he is hosing down the screen and washing the outsides while I’m scrubbing the track with Q-tips. And that’s not the end of it, either. As I’m standing on the counter to reach the top of the window, I notice that the light fixtures are dusty. Of course I can’t leave them like that once I know how much dust is there! Thus, I attack the light fixtures. Once this is all done in the kitchen, everything looks so bright and clean with the windows and lights fixed up. And I know what I have to do…wash ALL the windows and light fixtures so that my WHOLE HOUSE looks this nice. Three hours of hard, cleaning labor later, the only thing checked off the list is “Clean kitchen sink.”

After this ordeal Jacob said, “You know that book called If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? How one thing leads to another and then to another? Well, I need to write one called If You Give Jennifer a Sponge.” And you know what? I don’t think he was kidding.

So here is the problem with Jacob being “too good.” He feels guilty reading or playing on the computer while I clean the house. He doesn’t want to stop cleaning and leave me going. But on the other hand, he is DONE doing housework after a couple of hours…and I’m not. He just wants to check the stuff off the list…I want to work on whatever cleaning fantasy enters my mind. I don’t mind if he leaves me cleaning alone; I just want to keep going until I’m satisfied. That leaves Jacob saying “Are we done yet? Is this the last thing yet?” and me frustrated because I feel like I either have to stop cleaning (which I’m not ready to do) or torture him by “making him” keep going.

The solution? A big yard + summer weather = marital bliss. Now that we live on half an acre (that is FINALLY no longer covered in snow) Jacob can put in an hour of yard work for every hour I work on the house. And no matter how long I work, he can always find something outside to do—mow, trim, pull weeds, water the garden, fertilize, mulch, plant, etc. We both win…I can clean to my heart’s content and Jacob can contribute without having to clean. Not only that, but we have a sparkling house inside and out.
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