Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Are More Than You Realize; Dispatches from Behind the Vacuum Cleaner

I'm glad that I don't have a big house. I thought about this today, halfway through an hour of strangely  enthusiastic vacuuming. I'm happy that our home is small and cozy, because otherwise, I probably could not keep up with it!

I'm not good at a lot of things, especially spelling, craftsmanship and avoiding curbs. But, one thing that  I am ok at, is keeping this little house tidy and clean. There's something so satisfying (or OCD), about having all your things, where you want them, and the dust bunnies inside the vacuum. I know this isn't important to everybody, but it means something to me.

But most of all, beyond the fact that cleaning lets me CONTROL something, it gives me a rare sense of accomplishment and pride. Do you ever look at your vacuum canister, or squeeze the vacuum bag and say to yourself: "Whoa! I vacuumed up all of that!? Awesome!".  It's so satisfying!
Or maybe, your kitchen is sitting there quietly glistening in the afternoon light. Sink empty, counters clean, and you're all: "I worked hard!"

The thing is, back in the day before the feminist movement, keeping a home and being a housewife, it was seen as a job! A real job! Women took pride in their work, from the meals they cooked, to the floors they laboriously cleaned. I think more women found greater self-esteem and self worth through their accomplishments at home, than we do today.

Because of advances through feminism, woman are now offered an incredible array of opportunities and possibilities. I STILL laugh at the fact that in the end, I became a housewife, a stay-at-home-Mom. I think of myself as a feminist, and I secretly cringe with shame, every time a successful career woman, or one of my high-powered high school girl friends ask "What are you doing these days?"

Today, I sense that often times,  being a housewife is seen as the lesser of the two options. Be a career woman or a housewife. With a career, you get prestige, power and bragging rights. You get a Salary! Bonuses, vacation time, promotions and parties that celebrate those promotions. With housewives, nobody really seems to notice too often. Sure your girlfriend might comment on how clean your family room is, and your husband might be glad when you make his favorite meal, but really, the external rewards and recognition is low.

This is what I'd like to say to you:  Women who stay home, and women who work all day at an outside job and then come home to be a housewife.  (And men who do the same too!)
 PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK, because you know what? You matter too! You do more than you realize!

See that lily white toilet bowl? It certainly didn't clean it's self. YOU cleaned it! Good job, you! They might not know where the endless stream of clean socks and underwear comes from, but you do! So give yourself a hug and say: "Thanks Me!"

I'm lucky double-fold. To have the choice and the opportunity to stay home, something  I am forever grateful and appreciative for.  I don't take it lightly. Also, I really need to point out that I am even more lucky to have a super thoughtful husband who is beyond helpful around home and in parenting. He's supportive in whatever endeavors I chose. (Thanks Jon!) :)

Especially if it's all on your shoulders, or if you don't have anybody around you noticing the small, but truly, BIG things that you do, go ahead and give yourself a high-five. You deserve it!

And now for some CLEANING RESOURCES! Woooo! I ask you WHAT could be more exciting than CLEANING RESOURCES!?
Ok, so, a lot of stuff. But maybe I can help make the process a bit easier.

1.) Check out my "Helpful Tips!" board on Pinterest. This is a fantastic collection of amazing, "why didn't I think of that?" tips to assist you around the house and in your everyday life.

Like an instant, no drip watering can from the blog "A Journey to a Dream."  Neat!
DIY for up-cycled watering can from 'a journey to a dream'
Or  from RealSimple.com, keep water spots off of your chrome faucets by rubbing them with wax paper. Genius!

2.)  Did you know that there are correct postures for housework? Here, this might help you:

“Miss Ruth Kellogg demonstrating correct postures for various forms of housework, taken for Delineator magazine.”
Cornell University Library - (via the AWESOME website that I love, Retronaut.com)
More examples of correct housewifery postures HERE.

3.) Hey, did you know that doing housework burns calories!? I finally found exercise that I don't hate! Lol. It's so awesome, a multi-tasking workout. I used to try to send emails while on the treadmill, and it was SO frustrating that I could barley type while moving. I hate doing one thing at a time. 
 I think in order to truly burn calories, you really need to make an effort to get into it. No light dusting. You need to crawl around on the floor, jump up and dust the crown molding, bend, stretch, move, move, move! Ok, so THIS article claims that if you get down on your hands and knees and scrub the floor for 30 minutes, you'll burn 200 calories!  A half hour of vacuuming, about 90 calories. I'm not sure how they get this, but an hour of yard work , 256 calories. I definitely see some leaves that need raking and bagging!
I like THIS calculator. Just input your weight, the amount of time you've been working, and set the toggle to "Housework", and it will give you a customized calories burned number.

4.) I need to tell you something. I got a new vacuum. The old one, it was starting to go. The belt had been falling off for six months, and the suction was just not what it used to be. We had that little vac for at least a couple of years. It was great and saw us through the dust of two home renovations, but after all of that, it just wasn't what it used to be.

We had some work done on our house last month, and the air quality man who came for inspection, recommended a new vacuum for us. Perfect timing! Since our house is about 150 years old, and we live right off of a fairly busy road that is also a 3-way stop, we were told that our house has the potential to be extra dusty. So far, honestly, it hasn't been too bad, but I'm all for  HEPA filtering the pet hair, dust, pollen and mold that's been floating around. We also have a good friend, a brother-in-law and sister-in-law who are allergic to cats. It hadn't even crossed my mind when adopting Willow last month, that this would make things more difficult on our friend and family. I feel terrible, and really want them to be able to come over! I have a feeling though, with the new vacuum and all of the attachments that let me HEPA the heck out of every surface, it might now be breathing EASIER at our crazy cat lady house.

So let me tell you a bit about the Eureka Boss Smart-Vac Upright HEPA Vacuum Cleaner. Only because I'm totally loving it. (Oh! and this is by no means a paid review. I just like to talk about vacuuming.)

This was the vacuum that was recommended to us by the home air quality testing company. I have to believe that they know their stuff. I was relieved to see that they were suggesting a vacuum that could be found at a reasonably affordable price, (On sale at Amazon!) and not a $550 Dyson. We were told that because of the enclosed HEPA filter, and vacuum bag that you never open, and it's reputation for being tough on pet hair, this was a great choice. He was right.

I absolutely can't get over how....well, sucky this vacuum is. It can suck up anything! Good suction. Yep. There are many settings for bare floor and different rug and carpet heights. It kind of drives it's self too, when the rotating floor brush is going and the carpet height is set to low. I'm not going to lie, it's a workout when the vacuum is set up this way, you're pulling against the suction. BUT...it does such a great job and it gets the floor clean, which is the whole goal right? And, you get a workout! :)

I am having the best time with the different attachments. Which, is so dorky. I know. Think about it though, finally, dusting without a feather duster or a cloth. I use the included hose, pop on the dusting brush and voila'! Every surface in my house gets quickly and easily dusted! It's great for the blinds too. There is even a "textile brush" that I've used to dust the lampshades and curtains. The largest attachment has a rotating brush that takes up pet hair with ease. 

It's not the lightest vacuum by any means, but, it's light enough that I can carry it up and down a set of very step, long stairs. (That is unless Jon is home, and I pretend to be too wimpy to carry it up the stairs myself.)  Omg! Wait, maybe I'm not a feminist!!!! Omg!

All in all, it really has been a fantastic vacuum so far. We've been using it for a month, and we're still not through the first bag. I'll be so happy when I can change out the sealed vacuum bag, instead of releasing a ton of dust with a canister. It'll be SO satisfying to know that I filled a big bag with all of our house dust. I say be gone you dust!

5.) Awwww.  Here's an old picture that I found of Noah vacuuming. Back when I didn't have much time to vacuum. Gosh, I miss the old, sweet baby days sometimes. It was a ton of work, and my house wasn't very neat and clean, but it was worth it. Isn't that funny, the grass is always greener, huh!? ;)

As much as I miss the baby version of Noah, I like who he is now too. And I get time to vacuum whenever I want! Lol.


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