I’d Love To Chat, But The Tub’s Dirty

I hate cleaning my house.

I’ll do anything to get out of it.  I’d rather write 10,000 words straight and skip dinner than face a dirty house. Sometimes I think it’s because I’ve gotten older so it’s like cooking those textbook-beautiful, gourmet meals when you first learn to cook:  I’m so over it.  But then the other day I was going through some writings I did in my early twenties – I should’ve been scrubbing the toilets at the time, but like I say: I’ll do anything to get out of house cleaning. Turns out my twenty-something-self hated “domestic engineering” just as much as I do now.  Here’s a little ditty I wrote when I probably should’ve been waxing the floors:

Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray the Lord my house to keep.

If I should die before the dawn,

please forgive my unmown lawn.

The dirty dishes in the sink,

the laundry which I’m sure must stink.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done the floors,

cleaned the windows, dusted, and much more.

Lord, if you take my soul without warning,

please know I planned to clean in the morning.

Do you avoid cleaning your house?  How do you motivate yourself to (in the words of Nike) “just do it?” Please leave me a comment so I’ll be busy answering it and it’ll give me a good reason not to go vacuum.

46 thoughts on “I’d Love To Chat, But The Tub’s Dirty

  1. LOL – I don’t, I hire a cleaning lady!! have done so since the girls were young — Mike and I used to do it all before kids, then he started hiring a gardener – so I figured it was only fair that I hired someone to help clean — so I have had someone come in every other week for years!! saves a lot of procrastinating. The biggest rush is running around the night before, making sure there are clear horizontal surfaces for her to clean!!


    • That was always my problem whenever I had a cleaning lady: I felt so guilty that my house was a mess, I’d do two days of intensive cleaning so the cleaning lady wouldn’t think I was a pig. Now I just pretend a cleaning lady is coming, clean up the damn house, and save myself the money.


  2. Economically, many of us procrastinators should BE cleaning ladies, not hire them!! But while the dust blows around my house, I happily plant my toes in the earth to pull weeds and mow the lawn. I have my first harvest this year!! And next year will be better, because I know how to fight global warming in my own urban farm. But the BATHROOMS?!?! Sheeeeeesh!!


    • An urban farm – I’m impressed! Maybe that’s my problem: I’d rather play (and plant) in the dirt than clean up the dirt. I think all in-home bathrooms should be built like this one street bathroom I once saw (and used). It was this modernistic cubicle that looked like it would take off once you slid closed (and locked) the heavy, curved metal door. Inside were all of these water jets and that’s how this public bathroom was cleaned. Automatically. With the force of all of these jet sprays that literally flooded every inch of metal inside. Luckily, they didn’t go off when I was in there. But the bathroom was absolutely immaculate and no one ever had to use a toilet brush or sponge. Here’s what the street toilet looked like (in San Francisco):


  3. When the task seems overwhelming and I don’t know where to start, I set the timer and place it in the room I need to clean. 10 minutes. Then I move to the next station. 10 minutes again until I can see some progress. Sometimes I just focus on two work stations, other times 10 minutes is enough to do bathrooms, laundry, sweep the path etc. Works for me 🙂


    • That’s a great idea! I think that system would work for me too. I like the idea that if you just take a step, just begin, and don’t necessarily expect perfection, you can eventually accomplish the task. Thanks!!!


  4. This is great! I admit- I am that twenty-something who enjoys showing off my organizing abilities in the first house I can call my own, and entertaining anyone who steps inside with a gourmet Southern Living meal. I’m sure the appeal will soon fade, and if it does, I shall hang this poem in my kitchen!


  5. Darlene- Tha’s flippin’ awesome. I needed a laugh today, thank you! I’m one of those “Oh My Gosh I Can’t Stand the Mess” people. In fact, I had a friend who wouldn’t clean her house, and when it got so bad we couldn’t walk through it, I’d clean it in exchange for babysitting. I found a bartering system worked pretty well. I do have my cubby corners though, next to my bed with a stack of books and writing magazines. I’m pretty sure my sweet hubby would like to see those cleaned. I will…someday.


    • Never! Never clean those creative corners holding your books and magazines. The rest of the house, yes, but there’s just something about being creative that demands a space of its own, and the messier the better. You should see my desk. When I’m not busy being creative, it’s clean. But when I’m working…it’s a lovely mess filled with hidden ideas, story points, characters, and unfinished stories. I don’t dare clean my desk – it’s one of my superstitions as a writer.


  6. Does anyone LIKE house cleaning? Maybe most like a clean house or some clean other houses for pay. Perhaps they don’t mind it but do they really LIKE it? I am one of those that really does not mind it. Just do a little each day and try to not let things pile up or go too far. Of course, I would be lying if I said it always worked out the way I planned. . .Then, I just grin and bear it trying not to grumble too much:>)


  7. We used to do what is called a “Grunk Alert” which comes from a child’s storybook about “Grunks” that invade a dirty domicile. A Grunk Alert lasts only about 15 minutes during which things are returned to the place they belong and the top layer is cleaned. It was a fun way to get the kids involved with cleaning when they were young. Sadly we have less need for Grunk Alerts these days so we just clean whatever is getting to us with the idea that we want the place to be clean enough for friends to drop in and not get grossed out.


    • I like that “Grunk Alert” idea! Kids always make life more fun, don’t they? When they’re not making messes, asking for money, not listening to us, borrowing the car…Wait. Those are teenagers. And that’s the topic of an entirely different blog post…


  8. So many comments for this post! You found our common ground: loathing housekeeping. My chief complaint is that it’s never really done. It’s work that must be repeated day after day, week after week. I have a housekeeper who visits twice monthly. She does big jobs such as cleaning the wood blinds, both sides, something I always talk myself out of doing, telling myself that I’ll catch it next time, but “next time” is just a euphemism for “when I can’t stand them anymore.”


    • That’s a wonderful euphemism – and truthful too. My biggest problem is when I’m working I simply don’t notice the clutter and the mess. The story that is occupying my imagination at the time is the only thing I see, and where I live and how it looks just doesn’t seem to matter. And when I’m not writing a story and it’s time to clean I become easily distracted by a book here or a scrap of paper there, and the next thing you know I’m back in my office with a new idea for a blog post, a book, a play, a poem, or a film. I’m thinking it’s time to call a cleaning lady…


  9. Hi Darlene, We are too alike. My motivation is my mom coming to visit. Of course she really doesn’t care about the state of my house but somehow I feel less than grown up inviting my mom to come visit and then not having sparkling chrome faucets and a newly waxed floor. I try to involve the kids in cleaning but they mostly think I shouldn’t care about such things. I once hired a cleaner and told her I hadn’t cleaned in awhile and while her worker was cleaning the bathroom, I overheard her say to her boss “she really hasn’t cleaned in awhile”. My cheeks were red! The good news is that mom is visiting in two weeks so my house will once again be sparkling!


    • Moms certainly are great motivators. But you’ve seen my mom’s house: no way can I compete with that. No matter how clean my house, if my mom comes over to visit she’ll find something somewhere that needs to be scrubbed, washed, dusted, waxed, or vacuumed. And in her younger days, she’d find the cleaning supplies and just DO it herself.


      • May dad was infamous among his sisters and sisters in law. When he entered their house he’d go over to a random door frame and run his hand across the top of it checking for dust. He saw it as humor but his humor wasn’t shared by many.


  10. Loved your poem, Yes, I have to get up early to be ready for the cleaning lady, particularly to get those piles of books off the floor so she can vacuum. But the worst thing is the washing up. The dishwasher doesn’t actually load itself, empty itself, and clean up the bench and the cooker…
    elderly husbands have well cultivated domestic blindness, so then it’s down to no 1 again!


  11. haha I actually rather enjoy cleaning my house! My friends used to call me Monica (Friends) cause I couldn’t stand other people’s rooms being dirty too! LOL


  12. I’ve lived alone for more than twenty years and I used to be meticulous about my housecleaning. Then I turned fifty and I realized there are more important matters in my life than wiping the water stains from my kitchen sink. My house is cluttered and sometimes dusty but not messy. It’s clean and sparkling clean where it needs to be. But writing and reading and playing cribbage with my girl on Sunday night, a bible study and playing in a coed softball league once a week are more important to me than keeping a spotless house. I used to think Mom would be disappointed that I’ve let my housecleaning go; but now I think, wherever she is, she understands its importance in the grand scheme.


  13. Darlene!

    Sorry it took me a couple of days to get to this, but I left it minimized on my desktop so I’d be sure to see it this morning. This post is so hilarious—

    WE have housecleaners, I admit in all humility, because I cannot stand housecleaning. Why? Because my mother was freaking neurotic about it. I mean, my beautiful mother, I’m not complaining, she was indeed the perfect 50s-60s housewife, apron and all. I just felt that she never lived the life she wanted but instead did what she “was bred” to do at the time. Of course she died of colon cancer at 62…. So I refuse to clean a toilet or vacuum a rug. I do wash dishes, begrudgingly. But there are only two of us, so it really makes no logical sense to have a dishwasher (machine, that is).

    Great blog post—keep them coming!!! Can you put something up on our writers site on Facebook? Like a question for everyone (allll of us) to answer? That would be great. Thanks again, Darlene—

    Talk to you soon again!


    p.s. PLEASE tell me how you got this part below (which includes something like “subscribe via email” next to it but it wouldn’t copy for whatever reason): I absolutely love it, I want it, AND it is how I am receiving your own blog posts. I’ll like to do likewise with others who become interested! helllllp

    Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


    • It sounds as though we had the same mother. Only in her mid 80’s did she (reluctantly) agree to have a woman come in and help her clean her house. She’s crippled up with arthritis, has a bum knee, bad ankle, hip, back, and shoulder, and up to a year ago I found a step stool in the kitchen that she used for reaching high up to clean. She’s a cleaning machine, and unfortunately I don’t take after her. I can blame my father (and me) for that because anytime she asked me to help around the house Dad told her, “Don’t bother her – She’s busy reading.” Mom would finally give up and just set the table or do the dishes herself. I learned at a young age to always be reading a book and I knew it would get me out of doing housework. I think it made me a good writer (I love reading, especially for research), but it made me a lousy house cleaner.


  14. Love this post. I used to be the queen of clean…now I must make myself. And this is day two of that. Room by room. Blinds, closets, etc…..I don’t like it, but I do like the end results! 🙂 And then I’m on vacation….a great trade out! paula


  15. I have a book at home, “1001 Creative writing tips.” One of them is:
    If you’re suffering from writers block, clean the bathroom thoroughly. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you want to get back to writing.


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