Does a messy home (or office) make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you just do before company comes over?
This was the cleaning session I had on the coat rack. One of those things I do from time to time. Amazing the rubbish you collect.
Hey, I am Swiss (at least I have a Swiss passport). We invented cleaning it seems. That was the impression I had when I arrived in this land of mountains, crisp snowy landscapes, cows and banks. People hung their bed covers and cushions out of the window every morning to air them out. I was impressed, not that I have ever gone to such lengths. It seemed to me that every Swiss housewife was remaking the beds completely every day.
A mess in the office never really bothered me when I was a working woman. Most of the people in my surroundings sort of shook their heads and found “however does she find the stuff on her desk when she needs it”. That is the devious cunning I had. Of course I loved chaos, I am chaotic, I grew up with chaos, but it was an organised chaos.
One of my mum’s talents (and she did not have many) was not being the housewife of the year. She did her best, but it seems that in her family bringing a meal on the table was the first commandment. The rest just had to take care of itself. Not going into details, but I had no chance at the beginning of becoming the ideal housewife. Cleaning seemed to be an event that happened once a year, generally good Friday. My dad would take me out to London for the day and mum would clean floors and windows. I think it was more an escape than a day’s outing.
Anyhow to continue. I always found what I needed on the desktop in the office, it might have looked like a mess, but it was an organised mess. Home was a little bit different. When the kids (there were four at one time) were at home, you just did what you could. As they grew up and left home things got better. I was then working a full time job, so did what I could at home. I wanted cleanliness, I wanted order, but you cannot have everything. Mr. Swiss did his fifty percent.
Eventually we bought our own place. It was a large appartment in the country and it was in the raw condition when we bought it, it was completely new, so we could organise the fittings ourselves and that was a big advantage. I really looked at easy cleaning. I did not want curtains on the windows, I did not want fitted carpet – two things that I hated and for me a source of dirt and dust. Eventually we planned and had our appartment organised to meet our requirements.
My new neighbour worked in a local drug store where there sold all sorts of cleaning mechanisms. This was ideal, and after a talk with her, my final decisions were made, and I have never regretted them since. Yes at home I like it to be clean and tidy. I found a super system for cleaning. Just a drop of liquid in water, with the right clothes, no rinsing necessary, it was ideal. I have a plan for cleaning – I can see you shaking your heads and thinking this woman is crazy, but it works. If you clean regularly and not when you get round to it, the cleaning work is reduced. I have a list, kitchen, bathroom, shower, windows which need most work. If you do it once a week, it is no longer work, because you do not have to do it in detail. It just needs a refresher and brush up. If I clean windows, I clean the frames at the same time. I go over the floors every day, at least half. Mr. Swiss does the other half. First of all with the vacuum cleaner, then the dust brush and afterwards with a mop with just hot water. I reduce the use of cleaning liquids as much as possible, water on its own does the job just as well if done regularly. I have stone tile flooring in most of the rooms (otherwise wood) so no problem. Everything keeps clean that way. I have no sticky places especially not in the kitchen as I hate it when you put your fingers on a tile and they stick to it.
This is the basic work, and I still have free afternoons and evenings, just a matter of planning and logistic I suppose.
There is something else that bothered Mr. Swiss and myself. On life’s journey you collect junk. Luckily the Swiss system allows you to get rid of the junk to the state. We have a collection twice a year where you can throw out all the funiture you no longer need. In the town you can even throw it out once a month, but the villages are not so well served. It is our motto to live as if you are going to move once a month. That way it works.
For the first time our lives are rubbish free. It did take 44 years of married life, but we have achieved it. A couple of weeks ago Mr. Swiss returned two old computers to the supermarket. They accept all sorts of electric rubbish and get rid of it for you. We have a newspaper collection once a month, a garden collection once every two weeks.
The kids survived, I did not put them in the rubbish collection. One is still at home, but being autistic he is the perfect houseman. My other son was the university son. He has the best solution, he has a cleaning lady once a week.
Today is Easter Sunday, so it was a relaxing day, no cleaning. Just a matter of organisation. Company can call any time – no problem. You can even keep your shoes on (but not your hat).