Cleaning the house for visitors

“Housework is not intrinsically interesting, but because it is so repetitive and mindless, it allows us to focus on more interesting things, and that is pleasurable and valuable.”
– Sarah Fitz-Claridge


From the archives: Posted on 11th February 1997

I had said:

“I think that one of the reasons so many adults loathe housework is that they were made to do it by their parents in childhood. It saddens me to see housework, which is after all taking care of oneself and one’s environment in practical ways, made into this ghastly thing that no one in their right mind would want to do unless forced to. I don’t think children need to be ‘taught’ (euphemism for ‘forced to’) to do chores any more than they need to be ‘taught’ academic subjects. If a child did not choose to do a chore, I would not dream of trying to make him, any more than I’d make anyone else do one. I like doing housework myself. It’s like playing Tetris or something—you can just go off into your own little world and think. Somehow it helps me think!”

Shannon wrote:

“Want to come visit? 😉 ”

ROTFL! That reminds me of the time I had spent three days cleaning my house for the visit of a rather particular multi-millionaire relative whose houses are always spotless (domestic staff you know) and look like something out of one of those glossy magazine about dream homes—unlived-in if you ask me! Anyway, as we sat down to my beautifully-presented Cordon Bleu meal in my (I thought) spotlessly clean and tidy dining room, we got into a discussion of tidiness, and, looking around the room, my relative said to me “Well you know, Sarah, I could never live like this. I don’t know how you do it.” She thought my house frightfully untidy! This was a very long time ago. I’d never clean up for a guest now. If visitors think my house needs cleaning, well hey, I shouldn’t dream of stopping them cleaning it—as indeed some have (“anal retentive” types I’d say 😉 ).

But seriously, what I meant was that although it is true that housework is not intrinsically interesting, because it is so repetitive and mindless, it can allow the mind to be focused on more interesting things, and that that in itself, is indeed pleasurable and valuable. Thinking time is important, to me at any rate. I have not always thought about it this way. I used to have the same conflicts about it so many others have (hence the need for three days of cleaning before my relative’s visit). Over the years, I have written posts on this subject, and when placed in chronological order, they make quite an interesting illustration how people can sometimes solve their problems, even if the problem is hating housework.

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, 1997, ‘Cleaning the house for visitors’,

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