No Housework Day

Yesterday was No Housework Day – an American ‘special day.’

Personally, I’d prefer every day to be no housework day and to be honest, it generally is for me.

Sharing household chores

In our household we share the chores. I do the cooking, washing and ironing, and my husband does the hoovering, cleaning windows and putting out dustbins.  It works perfectly for us.

There are only two of us in the house, so we don’t create that much mess, or dirt!  When I cook, my husband washes up, although we do have a small-ish dishwasher. We tend to fill that with dishes and he washes the pans and any cooking utensils.  

I actually love ironing, and when we met, he often had to work on a Saturday morning. I would spend the time ironing the clothes he had washed during the week, but hadn’t yet ironed. He actually preferred to fold them so he didn’t have to iron too much – but that is a ‘man’ version of what looks ok un-ironed! 

Research shows that 60% of women do more housework than men. Obviously not the case in our household.

Reasons for doing housework

 I googled the reasons for doing housework. 

  • Apart from the obvious, of clearing up any food from floors and surfaces to keep bugs and rodents at bay, and unwanted odours hanging around the house, most of the reasons were for teaching children.
  • Doing housework is supposed to teach children to have responsibility and learn life skills. 
  • It is supposed to give them a sense of accomplishment and they feel they’re part of a team. (I’d question both of those points, I certainly don’t remember feeling like that as a child.)
  • You can be relaxed if people just drop in, and feel proud of your house, rather than panic trying to hide rubbish at the last minute. 

·     You can feel proud about your house.

I never see the point of dusting every day. Which is what my mother used to do when I was a child. Without fail, every single day before she went out to work.  At that time most people had open fires because central heating wasn’t an expectation, and of course, fires create more dust.

How expectations of cleaning have changed

In the early 20thcentury, women dusted and cleaned daily. Doorsteps and brass were regularly polished. Linen was starched and spring cleaning was planned to the nth degree.

As more women began to work outside of the home and the use of vacuum cleaners, washing machines and dishwashers arrived, cleaning didn’t define a persons’ house as much as it had in recent decades. 

We are much more relaxed about expectations.  The way we live has changed hugely, with many more women working. People change their furnishings more often than they did in the past, and they are often easier to clean or replace.  

In the past, people knew how to remove stains when liquids were spilt, and often would share their remedies with each other. These days people don’t spend their time sharing their knowledge of stain removal remedies. 

I feel quite uncomfortable if I visit a house where everything is pristine. I worry about dropping crumbs or spilling drinks. 

Recent research found that three quarters of adults’ care about the house being clean, but one in 5 only clean at weekend.  That’s us. 

I don’t intend spending hours cleaning my oven, I’d rather pay someone else to do that. And, even though I’m at home all day working, I focus on that, my work. I don’t want to waste time cleaning, when I could be writing, or talking to a client on zoom. 

Our house is warm and inviting, it’s a home, not like a show house, where you walk around, scared to breathe in case anything breaks.

“My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance”.

Author and columnist Erma Bombeck