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Domestic stuffs (part 1)

Friday, 19 July, 2013

I am currently experiencing a bit of a plateau in my creative work. It's not that I have nothing to do; I've got a lot of things I should be attending to in my work. It's just that I have little energy or motivation to tackle any of them. So in an attempt to kickstart some of the writing juice again, I thought I would exercise the blog muscles a bit.

I've been thinking about housework a lot lately. I even started writing some posts about it, but then felt like they weren't going anywhere, and besides, would anyone be interested in reading them? (I'm less concerned with the latter question at the moment, truth be told; it's nice enough that people occasionally tell me they read my blog, even though there seems to be little trace that I actually have readers.) But I've been thinking about housework a lot lately—partly because, as Gaby Hinsliff says in Half a Wife: The working family's guide to getting a life back, “Home takes on an awful lot more significance when you are suddenly spending much of your time there, instead of being part of a bigger and more sociable world” (p. 93)—and partly because so much of my time is caught up with it, trying to keep on top of things. I once spent some time trying to quantify how much extra housework having a baby causes before giving up (or forgetting about it in some sleep-deprived stupor). Certainly there's a big step up: certain things I only did occasionally I now do so much more regularly—for example, at our place, all the floors get vacuumed or mopped every single week simply because of the danger of a little person picking things up off the carpet and eating them. And some things have to be done almost constantly—laundry, tidying, “endless wiping” (another Hinsliff quote—p. 90). (That said, I know I have it pretty good: I was over at a friend's house who has seven children, helping her out for a little before a meeting, and after we took in the laundry, unstacked the dishwasher and re-stacked the dishwasher, she just kept going with the next task. At her place, she told me, they do at least three loads of laundry a day. Which made me think of this article, which mentions that each extra child adds “no less than 120 hours of housework a year”.)

The thing about housework is that, seemingly innocuous and annoying as it is, it actually affects a whole bunch of other areas—

As I reflect on this list (and pointedly ignore the pile of washing I have to fold and put away), I am conscious that I don't have any answers and that, in a way, the thing that held me back from writing these posts in the first place is the lack of having something to say: these are all just observations—based on my own life, my friends and stuff I've noticed in the media. Nevertheless, I thought I'd try writing a series of posts about each of these things. And hopefully I'll stick to it and get to the end. In any case, it will provide grist for the blog mill if I'm ever racking my brains, wondering what to put up here.

(And of course if you don't find this whole subject as fascinating as I do, please feel free to ignore!)

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