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Every time we see another clean-and-organized success story, we end up depressed and frustrated. We try the miracle formulas, quick tips and super systems, but when we find ourselves still not progressing in the war against grime, grit and grubbies, we again wonder why it works so well for others. “Something is surely wrong with me!” we conclude.

Newspaper columns, slick magazines and bestselling authors have tried to provide all the answers for a “perfect home” — and have convinced too many homemakers they don't have a chance. This constant bombardment of get-clean-and-organized propaganda leaves millions of women wondering, “What's wrong with my system? Why am I the only one failing?”

Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with you or with any other woman struggling to run a home (and/or raise kids, hold down a job, go back to school, do volunteer work). Housework is, for a fact, never ending and little appreciated. There are no superwoman homemakers. Most women are barely managing, meeting daily crises and demands, just like you are, wondering too what's wrong with them. It's amazing that no real training is provided for the most complicated, life-affecting job on earth: home-making.

The superwoman articles, books and commercials are a failure if their intent is to inspire the homemaker to rise to maximum efficiency. Gimmicks, hints, formulas, and magic schedules for living happily ever after aren't the answer. Overestimating or underestimating your abilities in any situation feeds the monster of discouragement. When you're doing your best but see yourself falling short of your goals, it's hard to have a bright outlook or a sense of accomplishment.

Yet I assure you there are proven ways to have a clean house, and they don't hinge on magic, good luck, or genies in a cleaner jug. By learning how to prevent housework, and by using professional cleaning methods, you can reduce your household chore time by as much as 75 percent. You'll simply learn to clean more efficiently and effectively. My confidence in you and in this statement is anchored in more than thirty-five years as a professional housecleaner — and teaching and listening to thousands of women around the world talk about cleaning.

Schedules and demands are different in every household, big houses are proportionately easier to clean than small ones, new houses are easier than old; so home-makers trying to pattern their lives after others are eventually disillusioned — like the determined woman who tried a simple “foolproof” formula for keeping children from getting their dirty fingerprints all over the walls. She had read a “how to run a perfect home” article that advised, “Take Junior, sit him down and say, ‘Junior, if you wash your hands three times a day, Mommy will give you a twenty-five-cent raise in your allowance.’” Immediately the woman called her dirty-fingered son in and presented the proposal to him. “I promise,” said the son. But the spots were still on the wall. The mother observed her son one morning, and indeed, he was keeping the bargain. He went to the sink, washed his hands and dried them, and repeated the procedure twice more. Then he left to play in the dirt.

It's frustrating to see commercial exaggerations of how well cleaning methods and materials work, especially when they're applied to a house in which everything is already perfect. You're not alone in being offended by the gorgeous TV homemaker in expensive evening clothes who flips her pearls out of the way to mop the floor with Magic Glow. Occasionally an immaculate kid or two tiptoes past or a well-groomed dog ambles through the place, after which the “super-smelling clean-all,” applied effortlessly, takes over. But don't be discouraged — there's something wrong with them, not you!

Miracle formulas, tricks, gimmicks and solutions aren't the answer; and if they haven't worked for you, don't let it get you down, because they aren't the key to freedom from housework. The first principle of effective housework is not to have to do it! Being able to do it well is great, but it's greater not to have to do it at all. Your real goal is to eliminate all of it you can. In this book you'll learn how to get rid of a lot of it, and the rest I'll show you how to take care of quickly and efficiently.

Just remember that, while getting finished with any housework chore is a worthwhile goal, doing it in teeth-gritting agony is self-defeating. There are “have-to” jobs, no matter how good we are (like bathtub rings, fingerprints, etc.). You'll never escape them. But when you learn to minimize the time you spend on the have-to jobs, you'll finally be able to get to the “get-to” jobs, and they'll both become more pleasant, I promise! There is life after housework — and if you do it right, there can even be life during housework.

Once you start finding the extra time that once was all spent on housework, nothing in your home will be mediocre or dull. You'll rip down anything that's faded or ugly and replace it with the prettiest, most colorful, most refreshing things you can find or make. You'll throw out or trade things that don't fit in. If something is torn or worn or forlorn, you'll look forward to taking care of it, not as a chore, but as a chance to better yourself and your home. You'll want to mend it, because it will be mending you. Once you have time, you'll be inspired to repair and refinish. The real struggle before wasn't the chore or item you had to service — it was the hopeless feeling that there was never any time for it. A lot of little things that need to be done really aren't work once you can get to them — and once you really believe that you can, you'll start looking forward to them!

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