The Harried BJ Housewife

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Even with an ayi, housework is never-ending

Okay, this is going to sound like a ranting whinge. And I suppose it is. Maybe you can relate to it, maybe you can’t. We shall see.

Everyone, whether they are a full-time-housewife, stay-at-home-mum, self-employed-dream-job-slave, part-time-worker, full-time-worker, full-time-shopper or part-time-waster, has their pet-hate housework thing. For me, it’s unpacking the dishwasher, putting clothes away and picking up. My God, I hate picking up. I really really do.

In fact, as of this minute, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to bend down to collect something from the floor ever again. I hate it that much. I’ll swim around lagoons in Phuket, do 30 minutes on the treadmill and trample groups of laowai tourists at Hongqiao pearl market – don’t get me wrong, I am not lazy. I just hate to stoop down because I’ve been doing it relatively non-stop for about 11 years and I am, quite frankly, over it to the point of mental incapacity. I’ve been doing it for so long… ever since I met my husband, really. Hmm.

Pre-husband, I didn’t need to every pick anything up because, you see, I never threw or dropped anything onto the ground. But my life changed when hubby came along. And it changed even more post-procreation... because husbands and children have a curious penchant for dropping that is absolutely unparalleled, and do it with such panache, it should be written into an art form.

Elegantly dumped towels (invariably sopping wet) on the bathroom floor. Cracker shards or Lays chips – deemed too small to warrant a knee or waist-bend to retrieve them – on the kitchen floor. Scooters and bicycles, prone or supine in the doorway, doesn’t matter which. Plops of glop (yoghurt, pudding, mashed potato) on the floor under the dining room table. Specks of Oreo all over the couch like sanding sugar on a cookie. Paper. Wrappings. Plastic figurines. Cards. Dice. Toothbrushes. Playdough clods. Clothes clothes clothes. You name it. Dropped dropped dropped right where it belongs – on the floor, of course.

Wardrobe? Ha! Drawer? Ho! Box with a lid? Titter! Rubbish bin? Wa haha haha ha haaaaaaaaaa!

I’ve tried many different tactics to beat this dropsy curse. Not many have worked. I’ve even – erm – yelled. This kind of tactic is usually met with a blank stare and an empty “okay, I’ll do it next time.” Sometimes the dropsies are so bad, I can’t face them at all. A few times, I’ve had to quite literally launch myself into a frenzy of picking up, in fast motion, like those time-advance cameras. I wait until husband takes the kids for a swim or a bike ride, take a deep breath and dart from room to room like a laser beam, toting a large washing bucket of junk, stashing items into their appropriate spots at lightning speed before tearing to the next room. It is wild-crazy but highly effective. I can get the whole house done in about twenty minutes and it’s a great workout.

At rare times, I will simply crack it (I’m not a sulker – don’t have time; I just get straight to the point) and the family freak out and tear around making things better for mad, loopy mummy with the wild eyes and flailing arms. Then my husband runs me a nice bath with candles and some sweet yellow grape-esque liquid in a stemmed glass. (There’s a tip for you, girls. Oh – and remember, drink responsibly.)

I know, as you read this, some of you may be thinking “Does this woman have an ayi, for goodness sake?” Yes, yes I do. But not only is she busy doing other things that I’m happy to relinquish (washing, ironing, toilet-scrubbing, mopping, dusting, etc), she is also quite useless at putting Things in the Right Spots, even after three years. So I just get on with it and do it myself. Plus, Ayi can’t multi-task, nor can she move her tiny carcass at more than 0.2mph (but that’s another blog.)

So, it is left to me. And I guess I have to accept my lot, because honestly – I have many more years left of this yet. Despite hefty, daily training in the art of picking up, my three most beloved human beings have still not mastered it.

Am I just flogging a dead clothes horse?

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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