Sunday, 29 April 2012

How To Get Away With Living In Squalor

This is my specialist subject and one that I could write a book about (hear that potential publishers?  I am open to offers).

Regular readers will be well aware that I am a die hard housework dodger.  I have a million and one things to do every day like, well, eat, wrangle my toddler, go out and do stuff, work, poke about in bushes with Rory, stay in and do other stuff, bake things, make things, dance about in my pants to music, watch Gilmore Girls, critique CBeebies, tit about on the internet - that sort of thing.  Am I going to spend precious time doing housework instead of doing any of those things?  Please be serious.

Sadly, the fact remains that until I can afford a cleaner I have to be in charge of the housekeeping.  For those of you in equally disappointing circumstances, here are my TOP TIPS for doing very little and getting away with it:

1. Identify a key area in your house.  This must be a) an area that is in view soon after entering the house, b) the area that guests see most when they sit down, and c) easy to keep clean and tidy.

My fireplace is my key area:  (cue childish sniggering at mild innuendo).

Ignore Rory and I looking into a box for no specific purpose and focus on the fireplace.  Also important for this key zone is that it looks particularly nice and - listen carefully here - is ever so slightly twee (exhibit a: the bunting).  My fireplace polishes up nicely in about 30 seconds and the mantle piece can be cleared of clutter which can be dumped in another room.  the reason for the addition of twee-ness is this:  you want to give the impression to visitors that you are the sort of woman who cares about how her house looks.  You are feminine.  You are a little bit of a domestic goddess.  Added twee-ness makes this suggestion beautifully. The idea here is that people see your clean, tidy and prettily decorated key zone and it leaves a lasting impression on their brain, so that they won't notice this:

or this:

or, um, this....

Yeah.  I could go on.  The point is that the first impression is one of loveliness, which slightly eclipses the rest of the crap heap that they're about to encounter.

2.  Likewise, identify a key bedroom upstairs.  Make sure it's a small one that's easy to keep clean and tidy.  I use Rory's because all his toys are kept downstairs at the moment.  When you have guests, leave all upstairs doors shut apart from the bathroom door (we'll come to that) and the door of your key room.  Don't leave the door wide open as this screams "THE REST OF MY HOUSE IS A SHIT TIP, BUT LOOK AT THIS, WILL YOU".  No.  Be more subtle and leave the door just ajar enough to see in a bit.  Why yes visiting friends and family, all the rooms in my house are like that one.  

3. The bathroom:  Brilliant tip which I have stolen from my lovely friend Alex who blogs over here.  Alex is an OCD neat freak (but I still love her).  Her top tip is to polish your bathroom sink after every use with an old towel or flannel.  Now, I'm not going to ever be arsed to do that every time, but I'll happily do it after cleaning it or if I have visitors.  It makes it nice and shiny and gets rid of all the water marks.  Most importantly, it detracts from how crappy the rest of your bathroom is and gives the impression of excellent housekeeperly skills.  Thank you Alex.  Squirt a bit of bleach down the toilet while you're at it.

4. If you are expecting company, make use of every single hole in your house.  I'm talking cupboards, drawers, the washing machine, the dishwasher - it doesn't matter what you fling in them, just chuck it in and shut the doors.  A multitude of tat can be hidden in your kitchen sink simply by running water and squirting a bitchload of Fairy Liquid in so the bubbles disguise everything.  You're welcome.

5. Just before anyone comes over, spend 15 minutes tidying like a maniac, hoover key rooms, dust the most visible surfaces, open windows, spray something that smells nice, and as they enter your house (remember to hide the duster and try not to pant too much), welcome them in and - crucial step ahead - apologise for the mess.  Make them believe that you usually live in a much neater, tidier environment than the one you've just sweated blood to blitz.  Add weight to this by having something baking in the oven in an "oh, I just got carried away with my own domesticity and didn't have time to tidy" sort of way.  Bazinga: you are a domestic goddess.

Now my students,  go forth and be a secret slob.  Let me know how you get on.


  1. You are my hero.

  2. ah this did make me laugh, as I did something very similar this very day. not that said guest (mummy friend with 5yr old) would judge, but i still did the 'what can be seen' tidying as well as throwing some bleach down the loo in a vain attempt to pretend bathroom was pristinely clean, and to hide the fact that it hasn't been properly cleaned in... *cough cough* (fill in a suitably inappropriate timescale).

  3. *blush* well, thank you for the mention Mrs!! I'm rather the same really, it's just my key area is my whole freaking house.. LOL. We're house sitting at the moment though and I am doing chuff all to clean up/tidy. Honestly, Ethan tipped a whole massive box of lego on the floor on Sunday morning and I've just left it there. Hahaha.. oh, the freedom! xx

  4. If my mother is coming over I make an extra special point of leaving the place dirty, she will nit pick and comment but it distracts her from anything else to have a bitch about.

    You should especially not clean up if friends are coming over, if the place looks enough like a sewer then thay may not ask for a cup of tea or use the toilet for fear of gastroenteritis and thus saving you precious tea bags, milk and bog role.

    Thins informational message has been brought to you by the ministry of austerity.

  5. EXCELLENT advice there Caspah.

  6. Ha ha love this. Will adopt the key area idea. When my mother in law last visited she brought flowers, chocolates and... spray disinfectant!! Alright lady (she's actually lovely really, but clearly I don't come anywhere near her standards of cleanliness and no doubt she hovers over my toilet seat)

  7. Brilliant advice! I spend hours trying to persuade Mums to stop spending their time cleaning and go enjoy themselves with their kids (or alone - whichever) instead. So for heaven sake don't start cleaning too much, you'll then be added to the list of Mums I've got to persuade to stop!

    As long as you don't cook a mouse in the roast potatoes as my mum did (and then take it out and expect us to eat them), I think you are doing fine.

  8. My husband said just the other week that he likes it when we have friends round, because it's the only time the house gets tidied!

    I do the trick of stuffing dirty/disorganised stuff anywhere that isn't visible; although this kind of backfired when one of my friends brought a pack of cookie dough stuff to bake in the oven and it was full of dirty pans and plates!

    My favourite trick is to tidy the small part of the bedroom that is visible with the door open very slightly, and then shove a load of the stuff I haven't tidied behind the door so it can't be easily pushed open any further!

    Unfortunately none of this can hide the fact that our toilet seat is falling off, the lid doesn't stay up and the whole toilet rocks ominously when you sit on it :(

    And this is without a child to look after. I almost think I should refuse to inflict any poor child with such a rubbish mother!