Q: So How’s that Chore Schedule Working Out For Ya, Superstar?

A: Ugh.

Two weeks ago I wrote this post, about how I’m trying to be a better stay-at-homie by keeping my house at the lowest possible order of functional cleanliness. It’s sort of a deal I made with myself. If I can do a set of chores on a regular basis, maybe I won’t need to feel so guilty about working on my manuscript or writing inane blog posts. As an added bonus, maybe some modicum of respectability vis-a-vis the floors, furniture, and bathrooms could keep me from wanting to jab my eyes out every time I look around.

Those things are true. But they only work if I do my chores.

IF.

And things keep getting in my way.

1. Outside Appearances: We can go a long time without doing anything, and then WHAM. Every morning and afternoon has something going on. There’s the Parents & Tots class at the preschool, there’s Music Together class. Play dates. Necessary trips to the library so Z can get new books. (Okay, fine, because Mommy has a passel o’ new YA books waiting for her on the hold shelf. But let’s allow Z to think this is about her.) We’re going going going and it’s all I can do to catch my breath, much less open the closet to see if we still have a vacuum cleaner.

2. The Grandma: It would sound bad if I left it like that. So allow me to explain, please. When Grandma comes to visit, The Ever-Suffering Mother (moi) gets to hide in her bedroom with her laptop and write in the mornings. It is GLORIOUS. I get so much work done. But not chore-schedule kind of work. More like, manuscript revising, manuscript critiquing for other people, other business for writers groups, and those all-important Facebook status updates. And blog posts. The free babysitting is for the morning, when everyone is at her happiest. But the mornings are when I usually do my chore schedule chores. Do I become flexible and do my chores in the afternoon? No. I become slothful and lazy and don’t do my chores and I don’t look back. Much.

3. Ennui: Sometimes I don’t feel like it. Usually Wednesday-Whatever-Day gives me a chance to catch up if ennui hits on a different day. But sometimes it doesn’t help at all.

4. The Library: This was partially covered in “Outside Appearances” above. But “The Library” also includes those YA books I borrow. You see, I don’t just like to bring them back and forth between the library and my (messy) house. I also like to read them. This takes time. Sometimes it takes…chore time.

5. The Kid: She wants to play “cave,” which is my new favorite game where we sit on the couch under a blanket. Sometimes we pretend to sleep in the cave (and one of us is doing more pretending than the other). Usually we pretend to feed passing animals who visit our cave. Either way I’m a) on the couch and b) under a blanket and c) do you really think I’m going to get off my butt and fold laundry when I can be doing a) and b)?

So if you come over (and please only do this if you actually have met me in person and I have given you the okay), and my house is making you think “how do they live like pig people?” – just remember, it isn’t my fault. I have 1 through 5 above, all conspiring against me.

Oh, and 6. The Cat: This is a rare shot of her up and moving around. Usually she’s resting peacefully…on my lap…while I read one of those books I mentioned…and it would be too cruel to dislodge her from her favorite napping spot.

The Weekly Chore Schedule (Or, Trying to be Less of a Slacker Mom)

Welcome ┬áto my home. Wait, wait, don’t step there. Ouch. Those Duplos really hurt. In fact, you might want to keep your gaze on the floor as you navigate our hazardous halls. If you stumble on a stuffed animal and grab the piano for support, you may want to wipe off the dust that sticks to your fingers. I’ll turn around and pretend not to notice if you want to use the curtains for this.

Yes, welcome to my home. I know I’m not completely alone in this. My house is cleaner than some, but much messier than others. It’s messier on days when we come back from the library and I have a delicious new book to read (Hello, The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams–wow!)

To give myself a tiny bit of help, I devised a chore schedule. This is the slacker mom’s chore schedule. Please realize that I’m easing into this chore thing, and I’M A SLOB OKAY!? There’s my disclaimer. Even as easy as this chore schedule is, I STILL don’t get everything done.

This is embarrassing. I can’t believe I’m posting this. Okay. Here goes:

Monday: sweep and vacuum

Tuesday: dust (This is a stupid chore. It always gets overlooked. Besides, whenever my mother visits she is so appalled by the layers of dust coating everything that she dusts. So I don’t have to.)

Wednesday: whatever (Yes, seriously. Wednesday is “Whatever Day.” Maybe we run errands. Maybe I read a novel.)

Thursday: laundry (Actually, I do laundry all week. Thursday is “fold the mountain of laundry in the family room” day.)

Friday: clean sinks and toilets

Saturday: clean tub and shower

Sunday: Whee, Sabbath! I try very hard not to do chores on Sundays. This is the chore day where I SHINE. Except for dishes (see below).

Every Damn Day: wash dishes (Oh, how I hate them.)

I am sure there are stay-at-homies out there who do all those things in one single day. The thought of this makes me break out in a rash. My mother has hope for me yet. Two of my Christmas gifts:

I really hate dusting. Yesterday was dusting day. Z and I got it done, but just barely. We didn’t use the Swiffer Dusters Extender, though. Maybe next week!

I hate the dishes too, but as they’re unavoidable, I’ll use the fancy dish drying mat. Thanks, Mom! (Um, that is said without any trace of sarcasm, really. And just so nobody thinks anything bad about my mother, I will also disclose that one of her gifts is sending me to an SCBWI conference. So she didn’t just get me housekeeping accoutrements.)

Out Damn Spot!

If I had any sort of ability with these pesky computer-type things, you’d be listening to the Jaws theme music right now. Or maybe the shrieking music from Psycho.

People are coming.

To my house.

I invited them, of course. If I hadn’t, there wouldn’t be a post today at all because I’d be busy barricading the doors and phoning the police instead of trimming the jungle outside and collecting piles of recycling and freecycling.

And since I invited these people, I should probably make something of an effort to make my house presentable. And if not that, at least I can attempt a look that isn’t offensive. As in, you know, clean a little. Or maybe you don’t know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know how dirty this place was until I started cleaning it. (With my mom’s help of course. Otherwise, why bother at all because there wouldn’t be enough time to make a dent – a dent! – in the mess.)

We’re pig people. Disgusting pig people, living in filth.

We’ve been in this house for one year and eight months (and three days…easy to keep track because we moved on New Year’s Day). In all that time, I have never wiped down the outside of the microwave door. Blech. But you know, it’s not a high priority when one is simultaneously trying to keep a little (demanding) person happy, write a novel, and maintain some facade of sanity.

I could gross you out with further examples of my housekeeping negligence. But I won’t. I could also write out my rationalizations/justifications/whining-creations of why I don’t go to the effort to keep my house pristine and shining and golden.

But people are coming over, so I have to get my booty back upstairs to clean (with my mom’s help) so I can pretend I’m a great housekeeper/mother/everything-together kind of girl to a bunch of friends and family who know me better than that anyway.

P.S. There’s a Yappy #3 next door. I hope it’s just visiting.