It’s true…it was every other week at first…then I felt I wanted it every week…in fact I needed it every week. I had to have it every Friday so that I could relax on my weekend.
Wait a second! Everyone get your minds out of the gutter. This is not a blog about 50 Shades of Grey (unless you mean 50 shades of grey hair). It is a blog about housecleaning. When I was a productive, working-50+ hours-a-week professional, business owner, nurse, I didn’t want to spend my off hours cleaning the toilets and mopping the floors. And, as my brothers, sisters, and husband can attest, I really disliked cleaning. So, I would hire a maid…every week. It was glorious.
Homemaker vs. groundbreaker…
But now I am a “homemaker”. What that hell does that mean? I looked it up online. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines homemaker as “a wife who does work (such as sewing, cleaning, or cooking) at home and usually does not have another job outside the home.” There are way too many things in that definition that offend me. But, wait, there is more. The site gives an example of the usage of the word HOMEMAKER: “TV commercials often show happy homemakers”. I am not quite sure how that is an example, but it is there. The part that I really enjoy however is the inclusion of a list of words that rhyme with HOMEMAKER including: “backbreaker, bookmaker, caretaker, carmaker, gill raker, groundbreaker, and grubstaker.”
I am going to reject that homemaker label and go with one that rhymes. I am a “groundbreaker”. Yes, much better.
Today I spent many hours groundbreaking. Over the course of the last year, I have broken the ground quite a bit. My husband and I have spent the last 30 something years sharing the household tasks. It has not always been a 50/50 split. More like 65 him/35 me. Side note on my husband…he sits under the sun sign of pharmacist with Virgo rising. Those who know pharmacists, or Virgos, will understand this statement. I once had a physician, after hearing whom my husband was, exclaim, “Wow, you must have a very clean house.” A girlfriend, who followed me into my house through the garage one day, looked around and commented on the impressive organization of our recycle bin. When my husband and I attend to the task of grocery shopping together, I have yielded to handing him the chosen grocery item to place in the cart. If I put it in myself, he will move it to the proper chicken noodle soup spot, or drain cleaner spot, or fragile egg spot (similar to what I do when he loads the dishwasher). And he has a very distinctive way of placing the chosen groceries onto the conveyor belt at the check out. To avoid any crowding of our precious items and to prevent a backup at the funneling arm, all items are placed in an even row with a direct shot to the cashier, leaving about 6 inches of unused space. Gotta love him!
A groundbreaking business…
Back to the blog task at hand. After selling my business, I found that I did not have a whole lot to do, so I took on the role of groundbreaker like it was my new-found business! I needed a groundbreaking business plan. My mission statement was simple – to lead a productive organized life in a tidy environment, one that would impress my hardworking perfectionista hubby. My vision statement consisted of some key values – I wanted to be a productive member of the husband/wife team, I wanted some purpose, I wanted to stay busy. I craved a schedule.
I started first with a web-search of house chores and how often to do them. Once I typed “house chore schedule” into my browser I was given options that included a household chore schedule template and household chore schedule for working moms (like they needed that additional stress!). I chose the template. I was shocked to find over 200 images of templates! Clearly, I had stumbled upon important groundbreaking stuff! As a former businesswoman, I decided I did not need a template; I would just use my all-too-familiar Outlook program. I started with the annual stuff… January 1, take down Christmas tree…May 3, wash screens…June 15, wet wash all the blinds… November 20, polish the silver…etc. etc. It turns out there are quite a few chores one should do annually.
Next, I focused on quarterly chores such as window washing and baseboard scrubbing. That done, I tackled the weekly tasks – vacuuming the floors, changing the bed linens, cleaning the bathrooms, and dusting the furniture. I was very clever and scheduled tasks on different days so as not to overtire myself. While I was at it, I went ahead and added some daily chores as well. I didn’t want to forget anything. I was one well-prepared groundbreaker. I spent one entire afternoon adding chores to my calendar.
The next day, the calendar program for my non-profit new life began to chirp happily. I dutifully completed and checked off each task. Then it chirped again, time to water the plants… again, time to polish that black granite…and again…and again…and yet again. It taunted me daily. I found I was yelling at the computer. I DID THAT ALREADY! GET OFF MY BACK WHY DON’T YA. IF YOU WANT IT DONE SO BADLY WHY DON’T YOU DO IT? I spent one entire afternoon deleting chores from my calendar.
I found out that I do not need a business calendar to tell me when my refrigerator needs cleaning. That odor coming from the hard-to-reach nondescript plastic container in the back of the shelf is reminder enough. The inch of ever-returning dust on the furniture is my reminder to clean the living room. When I look in the mirror and my face has spots, I know it is time to get out the glass cleaner.
The drapes of wrath…
My free time has also allowed me to explore other groundbreaking dimensions as mentioned in the Merriam Webster definition. Let’s start with sewing. My husband and I decided to purchase ready made-drape panels for our bedroom and study. The fabric and colors were great, but once the rods were installed and the drapery hung, it was clear that the panels were too long. I spent hours ironing the panels and carefully measuring, cutting, pinning each one. I was in 4H as a teenager and had learned how to sew, so I got out the sewing machine and hemmed the seven panels. Simple hems…simple straight lines. After several re-dos because I couldn’t get the settings right on the machine, ripping out the tangled thread and sewing again, I hung them up. They were all different lengths. So I did it again. Then again. Then again. Over the course of several weeks of “I can’t believe its not better”, I finally pinned them to matching lengths. The pins remained until the plantation shutters were installed.
Maybe my cooking would be groundbreaking! Ahhh, finally I have found a niche. I have discovered the glory that is the roasted vegetable. You can roast almost any vegetable. Because of this discovery, I have been introduced to vegetables I shunned in the past (click on the links for some tips and wonderful suggested recipes, or just to hear some wonderfully delightful voices) – cauliflower, eggplant, butternut squash – all heavenly when roasted to their caramelized perfection. You can even roast kale! I can make a great kale chip. I can make baba ganoush! Who knew? I have discovered the joy of cooking, and not just at Thanksgiving. I can spend hours trolling the internet for clever recipes. I have made my own peanut butter cups. I have made beautiful apple rose tarts. I have a new skill. I wonder if my family would endorse this new skill for me on LinkedIn.
I’ve been clean for over a year now…
Love of cooking aside, I find that the old monkey has returned to rest on my back. I want to pay for it again. I hanker to pay someone else to clean the toilets, to mop the floors, to dust the furniture. I must get a job…I need to support my habit.
What post-employment groundbreaking stories do you have?