Impelled by the desire to reassure my small but perfectly formed readership that I haven’t turned my toes up just yet, I thought I’d better do something.
This isn’t so easy. I’m quite heavily reliant for inspiration on the daily prompts, but since most of those recently seem to have been recycled from last year’s ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ I tend to find I’ve either already ‘done’ them or don’t want to. Not that I blame WordPress: since there are only supposed to be about five basic plots in the whole of literature, they did pretty well stretching it out to an entire year.
Now, having managed to digress before I’ve even started, let’s turn to my latest source of inspiration, from a few weeks back, which in essence wanted to know ‘What’s the household task you most dislike doing?’
I have discussed housework before, but perhaps this prosaic, albeit essential, function demands a little more attention. Especially when you haven’t posted anything for a while.
Naturally, I began by searching online for a list of common household chores. The fact that I found it necessary to do this probably gives you a good idea of my enthusiasm for the subject.
There are a lot of suggestions out there (no less than 495,000 were summoned up in a mere 0.37 seconds. Other search engines are available), but within the constraints of my limited attention span the one that appealed most to me showed up on page 2. So I am indebted to manchesteraupairs.co.uk (who knew?) for providing their idea of what constitutes ‘housework duties accepted as light housework‘. Below, I’ve reproduced these (minus, as not applicable, those that relate to children and other pets), together with my assessment of how I stack up against them:
- Washing dishes, including loading and unloading dishwasher: I’m all over this one
- Keeping kitchen tidy and clean, including sweeping and mopping floors: Not unprecedented; I have wielded the steam cleaner on occasions with reasonable results, and even – unbidden – fling the vacuum cleaner around from time to time. Putting things away in the proper place is not my strong suit although. in my defence, what constitutes ‘the proper place’ can be subject to change without notice (or at least without notice that I remember receiving).
- Loading and unloading laundry into washing machine: Again, not unprecedented and at least I seem to have (mostly) mastered the concepts of washing similar colours together and not putting woollens on a boil wash.
- Ironing: yeah, right.
- Putting washed clothes away: Mixed results here. I’m more than willing to put away stuff after it’s been ironed but while that works well – i.e. to my own satisfaction – for my gear, the risk of misfiling things in the other wardrobe, with all the retribution of disapproval which that entails, makes me chary. In fact, I may even have been banned from it.
- Vacuuming: I can do that. In fact I find it quite satisfying.
- Dusting: I will flick a duster round perfectly willingly, but there is nothing more certain than the fact that I will miss just one bit and that will, inevitably, be the bit that jumps right out when it comes to inspection time. However, responsibility for the cobweb patrol is mine, because (a) spiders and (b) height advantage.
- Everything to do with keeping their own room/bathroom clean and tidy: My hygiene standards don’t pass muster (notwithstanding the fact that I’m still alive), so bathrooms are a no-go area. However, I am in self-appointed charge of changing the bed-linen, on which I have strong views as previously expressed.
- Light shopping (not the household shopping): I’m mostly okay with light shopping, if I say so myself. I can pop in and pick up a baguette with the best of them.
- Emptying bins: Yes indeed. Not only do I – usually – empty the kitchen poubelle but it is also my proud duty to drag the wheelie-bin, replete with the week’s ordures du ménage, out to the side of the road. For some reason I’ve become institutionalised to do this on Tuesday evening even though the bin-lorry doesn’t pass by until Wednesday lunchtime. Hate to miss it though.
Personally, I don’t think that’s too bad overall, especially for someone burdened with the Y chromosome, Emboldened, I thought ‘why not extend the review to what are considered as duties unsuitable for an au pair?’
- Gardening: Cutting the grass counts, right? Apart from that and some of the heavy lifting, not my domain.
- Window cleaning: No.
- Spring cleaning: No.
- Cleaning the oven, other than simple wiping out: Other than? Wiping out? You mean there’s more? No.
- Washing carpets: No.
- Washing the car: Ah, yes. Aren’t I the one who puts the bank card in the machine at the car wash?
- Weekly shopping: An active participant. Indeed, I have control of the shopping list and sometimes even put down on it almost everything we actually need.
- Cooking the family meal, unless the au pair enjoys cooking and has chosen to do this for the family: Bit of a mouthful (ha!). Yes, I can do that. My repertoire may be limited – although it is improving – but I’m nothing if not keen. Although, rather like I used to play rugby at school, my enthusiasm far outstrips my abilities. Nobody’s needed a stomach pump yet, anyway. Just the Gaviscon.
What, then, are we to conclude from this extensive review? Well it seems to me that, while I’m not a great deal of use around the house, I’d make a passable au pair. As long as there were no children or pets involved.