The Fine Art Of Pandemic Housecleaning Procrastination

Photo Jenn Stone. 

If you think an extended period at home results in me having a cleaner house, think again. Oh I know people who are scrubbing walls and taking this time to do a regular old-fashioned spring cleaning, but I am not one of them. This is something I have relegated to the past, to an era of coal stoves and furnaces, an era long before mine. I have not done a regular old-fashioned spring cleaning since I moved out of my mother’s house many, many, many years ago. Several decades in fact. Not an era of coal stoves and furnaces; but regular spring and fall cleanings, along with an anally-spotless home, a home where you could eat off the floor, were an ingrained habit for my mother’s generation. Because of this habit, I personally hate cleaning.

Cleaning, is such a futile activity. The dust returns to the furniture and floors before the next day. The kitchen floor is sticky as soon as one meal is cooked and a round of dishes are stacked in the dishwasher. Apparently The Doc and I are sloppy cooks although we don’t always notice at the time. And toilets… don’t even get me started on toilets. Toilets are governed by Murphy’s Law. As soon as you clean them, someone has a major dump. If you are constipated, I recommend that you clean your toilet.

To clarify, I like a clean house and my house does not really look dirty. That is not because I am constantly cleaning it. It is because:

A. I don’t like clutter. I believe in less is more. Except for some things in my in office and The Doc’s hobby room, and the books, creams and phone chargers conveniently located on our bed tables, most things have a spot to be put away in. My fairly uncluttered house tends to look clean and tidy, which is an optical illusion. It is also a lot easier to clean when I do get around to it.

And, B. My house feels airy and light because it has a lot of windows, which provide a lot of natural light. However, it gets very little direct sunlight because most of these windows face north. Y’all know what happens when the sun shines directly through windows–it illuminates the dirt, dust and streaks. If I am lucky enough not to see all the stuff that southern exposure can expose, me the detail person that I am, then neither can anyone else. Airy, light and invisible tends to appear clean. Another optical illusion. Plus these many windows offer a nice view that is a great distraction from any dust, dirt or streaks that may appear during the few minutes that the sun occasionally shines through the south-facing window in my dining area.

I can come up with, what I think are, very good reasons not to clean my house at the best of times; so it doesn’t surprise me that during the isolating days of this pandemic, I have been able to continue to do this. Here are some of the excuses I have used to support my cause:

1. No one is coming to visit. And no one will be unexpectedly dropping by, meaning there are no deadlines for cleaning. Most people work better when they have deadlines and procrastinate when they don’t. This is just human nature and not a bad reason to put off some house cleaning during a pandemic.

2. That jigsaw puzzle is calling my name. My addiction and sanity project is top priority. After all, in times like these, we all need to take care of our mental health. Kudos to me because I have been doing a great job on that.

3. There is not enough time in my day. Especially since The Doc and I are lethargically lazing in bed later in the mornings. After which I am focused on tending to my routine of yoga, walking, contemplating life and everything else I would much rather do instead of clean.

4. I’m not dressed for it. No cleaning will get done on days spent comfortably relaxing in clothes that could pass for pajamas. This is just a fact.

5. Murphy’s Law (not the toilet version). The replacement jigsaw puzzle table has not arrived yet. As soon as it arrives there will be a Styrofoam explosion, just like the last time, that will need to be cleaned up. Who wants to clean twice?

6. I am waiting for the elves to do it. I always wait for the elves to do it. I just waited a little longer this time. I not only hate cleaning. I resent cleaning because I grew up in an era where housecleaning was women’s work. A lot of it still is. According to statistics, women still do about 60% more housework than men. So it doesn’t matter whether it is a pandemic or just a regular old week in my pre-pandemic life, I often leave the cleaning longer than I should just to see if some elves (like in the fairy tale of the shoemaker and the elves) will do it for me. I know, I know. It was just a fairy tale. But really, which patriarchal elf decided that cleaning toilets was women’s work. He’s the one I am pissed off at. He’s the one I’d like to flush.

Last Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, I finished my last jigsaw puzzle. There are some on order, but they will take a while to arrive. On Friday, I was walking down the stairs to my family room when I saw my main floor surfaces at eye level–almost five weeks worth of dust and dirt. This finally inspired me to clean. Partly because I didn’t have a puzzle to distract me and partly because this vision made me feel guilty for letting it go so long. I hate when guilt becomes my motivator. It makes me feel like I am twelve and in my mother’s house. I cleaned one quarter of my home. An open area housing the kitchen, living and dining spaces plus the front entry. I always clean my house in quarters and I always do this area first because it is my favourite area.

Five days have passed, and nothing else has been done. With my luck, Murphy’s Law will kick in. That damn replacement puzzle table could arrive in the next day or so, and the accompanying Styrofoam explosion could happen before I get any further cleaning done. Of course, this could be a good thing. Those little white static-charged clumps will be everywhere. A reason to put the rest of the cleaning off a little longer. Who wants to clean more than they have to? I like where my thoughts are headed. I can be easily convinced.

Thanks for reading.

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