I’m Not Martha Stewart. Nor Do I Play Her on TV.

I realized that I have less than zero domestic related skills. Actually, I’ve known for a while. But I’ve only just now admitted it. Out loud. On the internet.

Hi. My name is Kandice. I hate housekeeping.

My parents were born poor. Only when I say it in my head it comes out sounding like poh. My mom is the oldest of six and as a child she literally had one dress. My grandmother washed it every night for my mom to wear clean the next day to school. My dad has three brothers, his dad worked a factory job and there weren’t many extras. My parents married at 18 and 21 and they lived in a mobile home, sometimes not eating for days until the next paycheck arrived. I say this only to clarify that my family comes from very humble beginnings.

I didn’t know my parents lived paycheck to paycheck when I was growing up, which is a testament to them. When I was 11, I was old enough to realize that not being able to get a new pair of Kaepas simply because they’re the coolest new trend in footwear stinks.

Do You Remember These?

Do You Remember These?*

But then my dad got a job in Saudi Arabia. We moved to Dhahran and immediately commenced a lavish expatriate life, complete with a driver and a houseboy (one who cooks and cleans). My indoctrination into the religion of not having to clean up after myself began. It continued in college when I lived in the dorms, then in the sorority house.

Stephen grew up the youngest of three boys with a working dad and a stay-at-home mom who was, and is, a domestic engineer goddess. He didn’t clean either.

Laundry Isn’t My Best Talent Either

I suck at laundry, too. Talk about a man trying to woo his future wife, Stephen did my laundry when we were  in college. Yes, you read that right. Did I mention he lived in a fraternity house? He got all manner of unmitigated crap from his fraternity brothers. (Can you imagine?) But, dude, did that boy love me.* He still hates the way I do laundry. He actually sorts. Me? I just throw it all in there, say a quick prayer and hope it all comes out okay. I mean, at least it’s done.

Starting Out Poh

When Stephen and I got married at 22 and 24, we were poh. Our biggest splurge was a monthly trip to the CiCi’s all-you-can eat buffet. It cost $7.68 for two buffets and two drinks. I know this because I found the check register. We didn’t have money for someone to step in and clean for us. So, our apartment was disgusting. I admit it.

The first thing I did when I got a job as a law clerk during law school? Hire a housekeeper. We’ve had a housekeeper pretty much ever since.

The Housekeeper Was Downsized

Did I mention we suck at keeping house? But part of our Simple Year involves learning how to clean, organize and know what we need or don’t need in order to run a household. I’ve never had to do it and, honestly, it’s very easy to outsource when you’re working like a maniac and barely make it home in time to tuck the kids into bed. And you can afford it.

But we are doing our kids a major disservice here. I want them to be able to be self-sufficient and know how to take care of a home. We are, after all, raising someone else’s future husband and wife.

For us The Simple Year 2 isn’t just about de-cluttering and downsizing our home, but also about the domestic education of the Bridges family. And that’s not a bad thing.

*If you are the owner of this picture, please let me know so I can properly attribute it to you.

13 Responses to I’m Not Martha Stewart. Nor Do I Play Her on TV.

  1. Yeah, I am one of 9 children, and we were poh also. I think that may have something to do with our inclination to acquire. Why do we get so much stuff? Because we can. One time I was talking to my older sister and I said, “I have scissors in every room.” She said, “Yeah, I have orange juice every day.”
    We each totally “got it”. Imagine how much oj we got if our mom split a 6-ounce can 10 or 11 ways. Even pretty watered-down it didn’t go far.
    Change is hard. I’m with you all the way.

  2. I grew up with a single mom who worked hard to have a housekeeper, so I didn’t have to clean, either. When my husband and I moved into our house and had kids, we also got a housekeeper, because living in mess was ok for us, but not our kids. Then I became a stay at home mom, we got rid of the cable and bi weekly cleaning service. A parent at my sons’ preschool suggested the Flylady system, which really helped me to keep the house. I like being told what needs to be done each day because honestly, I’d forget or not even realize that was supposed to be done. Her emails are a bit much, but the daily tips and detail cleaning are spot on. I recommend Flylady to everyone now.
    Thanks for committing to this blog, I’m enjoying what you’ve written, and looking forward to following you on your adventure.

  3. Oh Lord, I am awful at cleaning! Bad! We had a cleaning lady and are looking for another one because I work and feel like I’m growing in the day to day never mind the cleaning! That is one reason I’m so drawn to less stuff. Less stuf to put away. Less to manage. Less to clean. So I hope you share how that evolves for you. Never learned. Really should know!

  4. Laundry… I used to sort and do everones all in one day. It took a lot for my perfectionist self to let it go and start doing a load per person, clothes these days don’t bleed like they used to although I still wash new red items seperate the first time through. I also started making my kids do their own laundry, our youngest was 6 when I started teaching them. Its great, everyone has their own basket and their own laundry day to use the washer. No more sorting socks and I can sleep well knowing my kids can take care of themselves.

  5. I’ve had to deal with the opposite upbringing in terms of cleaning. My Mom was a perfectionist housekeeper and cleaned a lot. We had to keep up with her standards. Relaxing my standards has been a relief and it really doesn’t take much time to clean and organized house if you clean when it is dirty not just because that is on the schedule. Kudos to Jamie for teaching her kids to do laundry. My son’s had to do their own as soon as they could reach the bottom of the washer LOL. Exceptions were made during finals week, etc. but if they didn’t wash it they didn’t have clean clothes. Both also learned to cook as I felt anyone 12 or older ought to be able to take care of themselves (except financially) if needed. The actually love to cook and are adventurous cooks as adults.

  6. Kandice, I love the way you are conducting this blog. There’s so much that resonates with me.

    My parents (and in-laws) came of age during the Great Depression, so had the ‘poh-folks’ mentality even though their parents owned substantial amounts of land.

    I have had housekeepers during periods when I’ve had income, but have not felt that I could justify the expense during times when I wasn’t bringing in any money. I’m great at laundry (and raised our two sons to be great at laundry).

    Now that I’m focused on decluttering and simplifying (mostly via the workshops at simplify101.com), I can see that cleaning could be very simple and possibly even somewhat pleasant if we didn’t have so much crap lying around everywhere.

    Something to aspire to.

  7. i also love the flylady system. guide lines no have tos. to fly is to ‘finally love yourself’.
    both my grownup kids can cook and do laundry. enjoy your writtings.

  8. This was the first post in my inbox from you after subscribing to your blog (it was recommended on another blog I was on…can’t remember the name…sorry). I must say that I love the fact that you are working against nature (your own nature) to be good role models for your children. It turns out my mother did the same for me.

    I grew up in a “lived in” house. Not to clean, not too dirty. When my parents divorced my mother began a decent into hording. I was shocked because “that’s not the way I was raised.” It’s been difficult these years to watch her become more closed in by her stuff. The good news is that she’s now ready to start shedding the extra weight so she can move closer to me. We’re working on it slowly…

    Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

  9. Great post! You mean you can’t get down with those who tell you to simply love washing the dishes or scrubbing the toilet? Neither can we. we just set a timer for about 30 minutes and whatever gets done gets done until we get grossed out again. And we clean as we go a lot of times to avoid these mad dashes. It just always feels like an utter waste of energy and time. Love your writing too!!! Have a swell and squirrel weekend!!!

  10. One of the reasons we bought our current house was the size – the fact that it only has one bathroom was a definite bonus! I hate general housekeeping but but don’t mind specific cleaning – like having one set of really clean windows, sparkling from top to bottom. (with vague plans for the rest of them to look that too, eventually)

    Smaller house and less stuff means less cleaning. It’s been my primary motivator for simplifying but as I continue there are more and more benefits. I’ve been enjoying your start to the year – have fun with it!

  11. It’s funny how that all works, isn’t it? Both of my parents grew up poor, but had completely opposite views about things as adults. My dad is a pack rat, and my mom never wanted a lot of stuff. Dad was raised(and raised my older sisters) that women did the cleaning, etc., and only started pitching in after he married my mom. My mom loved a spotless house. I grew up hearing, and learning to hate, the word “immaculate.” I most certainly do not have my mom’s cleaning gene, and I’m constantly battling myself to try and get “caught up.” One of the reasons why I have been working to chip away at all of the stuff in the house, and my hope for a smaller house upon our next move.

  12. Pingback: What Living Without a Functioning Kitchen Has Taught Us | The Simple Year

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