As Spring Begins, the Home Cleaning Wars Heat Up

Mom who shares a roof with husband and son has a few tricks up her sleeve for getting the others to lend a helping hand

I live with two males, but I do the lion’s share of the housework.

I have a gender gap in my home, it seems, and I’ve decided to fill it with cleaning supplies.

Why do women do more housework while men gravitate toward more mechanical pursuits?

Part of it seems to be a simple matter of DNA. Women find satisfaction in the results of a good cleaning.

Also, we watch HGTV. It inspires us to scrub, organize and declutter — and stay sane in the process.

And I have my own tricks to motivate myself to clean. A new purchase, like a shower curtain, or a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the supermarket can mysteriously spur me to tidy up a very messy home.

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With my husband and our youngest son, a college commuter, I try to divvy up the cleaning chores — but most of the time I wish I had just cleaned whatever is on their list. Though not practical, it’d be way more efficient. My son takes a lot of breaks during cleaning to check with his friends about plans and update his Apple iPhone music playlists, and my husband gets caught up in other chores while cleaning, such as finding his old baseball mitt, re-oiling it, and spending the next hour looking for a baseball in the garage.

The other night I walked through our kitchen, paused, then found the guys in the family room.

“I thought you were going to clean up the dinner dishes,” I said in my stern mom’s-not-happy voice.

Their antennae went up — they might not be good cleaners, but they aren’t dumb. On the defensive now, they had to come up with something.

“Me and Dad did it,” my son said quickly.

Understanding dawned. My husband uses what I like to call the “line ’em up” method of cleaning: He doesn’t return items to the cabinet. He simply lines them up against the backsplash in rows.

He generally groups things together — condiments, dry goods, and such miscellaneous items as soy sauce packets, receipts, a stray golf ball, a cat collar.

The guys will dangerously stuff the dishwasher with dishes. Glasses tilt haphazardly, plates are clumped together in such a way that no water or soap could ever reach them, and silverware threatens physical harm as steak knives mingle, sharp ends up, with the other utensils.

I mutter as I reorder it. For guys who notice every angle of a pro golfer’s hips mid-swing and every arc of a pitcher’s curveball, they were missing the finer points of how dishwashers work.

Related: 10 Smart Ways to Speed Up Your Spring Cleaning

I have also roped the guys into bathroom chores. Call me traditional, but I like to include the toilet in my cleaning.

Let’s get real. I, the one female in the house, do not cause half of the “issues” when it comes to the marble throne. But I’m the one who cleans it like a chambermaid.

At times I wish I had a cleaning service, a crew that would chase away my worries with a flick of a few dust cloths. But cleaning services cost money that I would rather put toward other essentials.

“The windows need to be washed,” I pronounced recently.

My husband gingerly put down his golf clubs. “I kind of like the ‘cloudy’ look,” he said. “You’ve always wanted to see London, right? Pretend you’re there.” Sigh.

We have three capable people living here. And I want each of my three sons, whether single or married, to be able to keep up a home — a home I can visit without contracting MRSA.

So I’ve decided this is one battle I’ll win not by arming myself, but by arming them — with cleaning supplies.

In a world of intangible gains, they will see that cleaning offers real results — like a happier wife and mother!

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