The guilt complex

We’re the type of household that gets sacked by cleaners.  You’d think that, working from home, I’d have all the time in the world to keep the house immaculate.  When the children were babies, people used to comment about how lovely it must be to sit and work at home whilst the darlings played happily by themselves, slept on command, gurgled contentedly in their moses basket next to the desk and didn’t start screaming the moment the phone rang.   They went to a childminder.

These days, I dream of waking up one morning to find that not only have I turned into a tidy, well organised person but that the children have suddenly become helpful – “Let me do that, Mum” – and that GPD  has figured out the purpose of the toilet brush.  But, as the first anniverary of last year’s cancer diagnosis approaches, I find myself having to admit that I have recovered from recent traumas rather better than my oven.  Broken ankle? You try cleaning an oven with your leg in plaster.  Hysterectomy? That central line of staples really didn’t help.  Chemotherapy?  OK, you get the idea.  I have tried to restore order, but have had to recognise that there are some jobs noone else is going to do for you.   Not unless you pay them large amounts of money, that is.

Which is why I finally cracked and there is, at this very moment, a Man with a Van cleaning my oven.  He’s cleaning my oven and I’m typing a blog post.  Hmm.  He’s promised to restore it to near-showroom condition.  Aaah!  Do I feel guilty at my inadequacy as a houskeeper?  Only a bit.  I figure it’s a matter of priorities.  We could keep the house much tidier/cleaner/hygienic (delete as you feel appropriate) but then we wouldn’t be able to spend all our evenings and weekends rushing round all those extra-mural activities.  I really would rather swim to Fidra  than do the ironing.

So I will regard it as a small contribution towards the support of small business during these times of financial uncertainty.  I will buy some decent oven cleaner.  And I’ll report back. 

 Postscript:  It’s now gleaming and I’m hoping I can cook without setting off the smoke alarm.  3 hours they said.  It took almost 5 (not too sure I should admit that).  I may post pics.  Of course, the challenge now is to keep it that way!  So I’ve told the kids I’m giving up cooking…

Photo credit: therealneurox

11 thoughts on “The guilt complex

  1. I really think you have more excuse than most of us for a little help. The thing about a tidy and clean house is that you have to keep it tidy and clean. If you have a sort of OK house, then you have to keep it sort of OK. That is much more achievable because the bandwidth of sort of OK is fairly large. I find it much more relaxing (although I also always feel “I wish my house was tidier and cleaner, so in that way, it isn’t very relaxing – makes me feel permanently a little inadequate).

  2. We definitely fall into the sort of OK bandwidth which, in our case, is very broad. To be honest, it’s generally only when I’ve been off staying in someone else’s immaculate abode or a bed & breakfast somewhere that the guilt and inadequacy start to hit.

  3. Glad to have stumbled across your blog. I too have a continuous battle between tidy home and work. Working from home allows great flexibility but it is very difficult to switch off from the toys, clutter and cleaning when you enter the office.

  4. ‘Sort of OK’ is the only way, I find. Apart from those few hours each week immediately after the cleaner comes and restores order, does the ironing, and calms the boys. Bliss.

    By the time the school run is finished the next morning though, it’s all just ‘sort of OK’ again…

  5. Welcome Adventure Mother. Our problem is that ‘tidy home’ definitely takes 3rd place in the work/play/tidy home sequence. And oh, PM, if only our cleaner hadn’t sacked us. I do love that once a week feeling when the house is clean and tidy and I’ve being doing something else altogether.

  6. Hi guineapigmum

    Sorry for contacting you this way instead of by email. I met recently with David Gilmour to discuss inviting a variety of East Lothian educators (including parents) who have experience of using the ‘social web’ to participate in my 3-year doctoral research into this way of sharing, discussing etc.

    If this is something that you might be interested in taking part in, please send your email to and I will forward the introductory letter and audio file.

    David Noble

  7. How wonderful to read about someone else who was sacked by their cleaner…ours protested arthritis, but we knew…
    Since then (over 2 years ago now) our house has gradually evolved into a chaotic space which groans through periodic bursts of activity, associated mainly with gatherings here of extended family or other groups of friends, who cannot be allowed to know how awful our domestic habits actually are.
    “I don’t know how you do it..” sighs my mother. Hmm, by not letting her see the car boot or the now bulging spaces under the bed and in the wardrobe…

  8. That sounds just like us, Dorothy – last Saturday morning was a mad dash round the house with hoover and duster before mother-in-law arrived for the holidays. The upside is that everything that sits still will be ironed before she leaves!

  9. Whew, so it’s not just me! I too have a house that is sort of OK, some of the time… Trouble is, folk who know me think I’m really organised and nothing I say can make them change their minds. The few who get to see my kitchen know the truth.

    I’ve tried to do things about it: I even own a book called “Why am I so disorganised: sort out your stuff” by Dr Marlyn Paul. I can recommend it if you have the time / energy / etc to take it all on board. But so far, it hasn’t really worked. There’s just always something more interesting to do than housework! (And yes, reading blogs is one of them.)

  10. I wouldn’t dare to read a book about this – you’re a braver lady than me! I would just feel even more guilty that I couldn’t follow the recommendations. 🙄 I think we should just all accept that it’s very healthy to have things to do that are more interesting than housework. 😛

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