I'm a pretty good housekeeper. Not as good as some people who shall remain nameless but who co-writes this blog with me (rumor has it that if you're staying in her guest room and you get up in the middle of the night to pee, by the time you get back not only will your sheets be laundered and your bed made up anew, there will be a vase of fresh lilacs and a plate of hot chocolate-chip cookies on your nightstand), but we get by. I admit that my standards have slipped a bit since the first kids hit their teenage years – not because they're sloppier, but because they took on more of the chores and I have never figured out how to convince a sixteen-year-old that “sweep the floor” doesn't mean “wander around holding a broom bristle-end-up,” it means “remove the debris from the surface beneath your feet.”
They say that a workman is only as good as his tools, and this is nowhere more true than it is in housework. It's very tempting to save money on your cleaning stuff, especially big-ticket items like vacuum cleaners. Inexpensive is great, but cheap is not. Whether you're a stay-at-home-mom or do housework on your Second Shift, respect your occupation enough to use good-quality tools.
Which brings us to today. This is the time of year I start having to water the garden and the plants in our large front and back yards. Last year in a spasm of misguided economy we bought a long “contractor” hose at a yard sale and the thing is kinkier than Marilyn Chambers.
I came stomping into the house this morning, soaking wet and steaming mad. I screamed at my poor husband (in that tone of voice we use that lets our husbands know they'd better take us seriously even though they have no idea what we're talking about), “I HATE THAT %@ING HOSE!!!!” It's bad enough that I have to drag the 50-pound monstrosity all over the place, but without exception as soon as I get the business end of the hose a half-acre away from the faucet, the entire 150 feet of red rubber failure will macrame itself into a friendship bracelet and I will have to crawl back and un-tangle it an inch at a time.
Today matters were exacerbated by the fact that, after watering everything, I washed the van. The van is “my" car, and it's a perfect example of saving money by Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do. The van is a (mostly) maroon Plymouth Voyager adapted to seat 8. We call it “The Mothership,” which is geeky in so many directions I can't even count them all. Lance is as good a mechanic as he is an engineer, so this car will probably run forever. Unfortunately, he doesn't concern himself with aesthetic issues; as long as it runs he doesn't care what it looks like. The result is that when you hear us coming, you start looking around for a big dust storms. The doors stick, the tailgate's broken, the emblems are missing or hanging drunkenly from one peg, and the A/C whines (though not as loud as I do). Our driveway is lined with nest-containing trees. It was bad enough that I was going out to touch bird poop on purpose, without having to deal with the Devil Hose!
My point is this: Don't double your workload by using tools that don't work. Not only will you spend twice the time necessary, the inconvenience will make it harder to force yourself to do the chore the next time. Don't use the window cleaner that makes greasy streaks. Get rid of the broom that sheds bristles on your just-swept floor. Buy a hose that unrolls in a straight line.
Dance or paint or nap with the time you save.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go burn that damned feather duster.