Tuesday, December 8, 2009

House, clean thyself

This is a rant of a blog, so don't say you weren't warned.

If you have a partner who lounges about merely being ornamental while you do ALL the cleaning and ALL the washing and ALL the dusting and ALL of everything else required to keep the house in order so that mountains of undone work don't collapse on your head over the weekends, I have a tip: start your day early.

I learned this the hard way. A habitual late riser, I realised that if I continued with my old, unmarried routine, I would have the aforementioned mountains of undone work collapsing on me every single evening. Besides, I was still working when I started being married, so that only compounded matters.

If you're one of those harried souls who work and balance a home, the trick is to designate all cleaning jobs to a maid who won't get in your hair the way a lounge-about partner will. If you can't hire a cook as well, do yourself a favour and keep next day's food halfway prepared the moment you get home from work. Of course, you knew that already, but it doesn't do to forget it.

Besides, some of us have babies or adolescent kids needing help with the homework, and since you can't do everything at once without wrecking all, devise a system with the kids. If your child needs help structuring an essay while you cook, spare just a minute over what the topic is, then continue your cutting-chopping-cleaning-cooking routine while you tell the kid what to write. It is a great idea to teach the kids to clean up after themselves, since you're pressed for time. If they don't do it, land a slipper on the seat of their pants.

If possible, do the same to your lazy partner.

I notice that most Indian men are brought up by the devil. Nobody bothers teaching them basic courtesies such as putting the tea cup in the sink after guzzling the contents, so don't expect them to jump up to do the dishes. Most have not heard of doing the beds, folding their own clothes and putting them away, stashing away the dirty laundry for washing, ironing their clothes, putting their shoes in the shoe rack and not outside it, putting their plates away after they've burped over their meal, or even switching off fans, lights, hot water geysers and the like after use. Why bother teaching a man these things, when he has a mother, and later, a wife to clean up after him? Indian men are put into the world to perform such vital tasks as scratching their crotch, lying in bed reading the papers while their wives slave about the house, make babies but not help in their upkeep, and why would such important souls need to know such old-fashioned ways as saying thank you or complimenting a tasty meal?

The point is, men are fortunate to live in houses that clean themselves while they pretend to be decorative items.

If you have such a partner, sigh. Try and discipline the person in small ways; for instance, firmly and kindly refuse to pick up tea cups, dinner plates, socks, shoes, and other things left lying around where they shouldn't be. Be equally polite when making him do such chores as folding up his shirts, ironing his clothes himself and even setting the table for dinner. Insist on good manners being cultivated as early in the marriage as possible, because you don't want your kids learning all the wrong things through no fault of theirs. If a MIL or FIL or any in-law butts in and tells you that "such chores" are not a man's responsibility, tell them to butt right out. If they did not teach their son anything, they should teach themselves to shut up.

In short, plan what needs to be done around the house on a daily and a weekly basis, and agree to split some of those chores with your partner. See to it that both sides stick to the bargain.

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