Are you a super housewife?

If you have not met me you might mistake me for one of those tight-lipped, spectacle-wearing mothers (I’m picturing The Nanny) who runs around her house with a clipboard in hand and with post-it notes hanging off her perfectly-ironed apron. And that in my dreams I whisper… checklist, checklist, checklist… while riding some magical feather duster.

If you imagine my house you might conjure up visuals of a clock in every room so that I can time all these wonderful five-minute cleans I’ve been executing and writing about lately. Oh and they are wonderful speed-cleaning experiments and I am very excited about them. More on this later…


The Super Housewife persona

In a perfect world it would be great to fit the persona of the perfect 50’s style retro housewife who loves to dust and clean. How glamorous it would be to don a pretty apron and whisk around the house like a Fairy Godmother with nothing else on the agenda but housework.

If I could devise a way to wiggle my nose and make housework disappear, Bewitched-style, believe me, I would find a way and find it fast. At the very least, I want to get as close as possible to this goal in my lifetime. But for now, to paint a picture of myself as some sponge-and-mop wielding super-housewife would be self-delusion. Trust me. I can think of way more pleasurable endeavours to spend my delusions on, than cleaning.

Groundhog day

What I am is a perfectly normal (OK – I’ll admit a little eccentric) 41-year-old mother of two young children. I wake up every day like every other mother my age (and other mothers not-my-age) to a certain domestic scene, which plays out a little like the movie Groundhog Day. Same day. Same street. Same family. Same laundry. Same dishes. I just get to navigate through the movie differently if I so desire.

The morning scene

I love my children and I can’t wait to see their beaming fat cheeks every morning. But I can tell you I no longer bounce out of bed like I did when I was 30, or even 35. Hold a Borocca to my lips and you might see one hand emerge from the covers and place itself on the bedside table. But the rest of my body would still be lying happily inside the warm and cosy covers of my soft, fluffy and welcoming bed.

Mainly, the thought of washing dishes, doing loads of laundry, changing nappies, making lunches, making breakfast, cleaning the house and driving halfway across town and back before my work day begins is sometimes, how should I say it? Overwhelming. And I don’t even live in a city.

Time in Fiji

My reaction?

To roll over and plant my face back into the pillow and hide under the doona. I could just disappear in a puff of morning pillow smoke. I wonder if anyone would notice me under here? Maybe they will think I am hanging out in the laundry. They never think to look for me there. Anyway, I am dreaming of Fiji. I am lying on a beach and a friendly Fijian waiter is delivering me a Penina-colada.

An extra ten minutes in Fiji…ah..

My holiday is broken not by a drink-wielding Fijian, but by a similarly fuzzy-crowned two-year-old (of similar Pacific decent) jumping on my head yelling ‘Bobbo bobbo.’ That’s ‘bottle’ for those of you who are either past the toddler stage or have abstained from toddler-dom.

Today I feel a little like the painter who didn’t paint his own house. If I was really smart I would have followed my own time-management advice (like I try to most mornings) and I would have risen earlier. This way I could catch the pleasure of an uninterrupted shower and a hot coffee. I could drink it in quiet contemplation way up the back of the house where no-one would think to look for me. Again, in the laundry.

Send me to the naughty corner – I dare you…

Luckily most days I do take my own advice, but today I am facing the onslaught of nappies, lunches and school permission slips with a non-exfoliated face and without caffiene in my bloodstream. The lack of caffeine in itself is a wrong move for any mother. But this mother – me – would like ten minutes to herself. So please excuse this mother for deciding to have a life. I feel guilty, as if someone should tell me off in a frantic and frustrated tone. Surely, I should be treated like a two year old myself and sent to some naughty corner for lazy mums. Excuse me for not wanting to bounce out of bed on a mission to be the perfect mum.

But I don’t care. The ten-minute trip to Fiji was worth every second. My Fijian waiter was very nice. Thank you very much.

House rats

So it’s a big cheesy omelette for everyone. That’s what they’ve ordered and since I haven’t had my coffee yet, they get whatever they want in this restaurant that is my kitchen. And as for my kitchen? It seems to have taken on a life of its own. I am so sure I left it perfectly tidy before falling into a semi-coma on the couch last night.  Now I see that various house rats (not mentioning any names) have (while I was in Fiji) had their way with a tin of Milo, a box of Coco pops, a large bottle of milk, a packet of lollies, a loaf of bread and a block of cheese.

Bewitched

Even though I am feeling as stale as the week old bread (I left on the bench for the purpose of making breadcrumbs) there is a sense of excitement in my bones. Standing next to the bench of mess, in its shiny sanity-giving glory, is my newly revamped cleaning trolley (with inherent cleaning system) and beautifully polished red egg-shaped kitchen timer.

This may not mean much to you right now, but it will. Because my cleaning trolley and its inherent cleaning system proves that my kitchen could indeed soon resemble a scene out of Bewitched.

Why? Because recently I have discovered the wonderful trick of cleaning a kitchen in five minutes! As well as cleaning a living room, boy’s bedroom and nursery in the same time frame! I want to put my little apron on and run down the street screaming “I’ve got a Fairy Godmother! I’ve got a Fairy Godmother!…” Because there could be one (a Fairy Godmother) hiding under that apron of mine after all! This thought makes my nose wiggle with excitement and this is not because hayfever season is fast approaching.

A super theory

In terms of the whole Super Housewife thing, I have a theory of organisation that I am developing that seems logical to me.

My theory is this:

Organisation follows disorganisation.

If this statement is true, then it seems logical that before wanting to write self-help organisational manuals, I must have been, at some point, very disorganised. Right?

So now it is possible that even though I may not have completely reached Super Housewife status yet (the NZ Herald did call me a Super Mum once which was nice of them), I am well on the path to becoming one.

I know this because my theory of organisation doesn’t work the other way. I have never met an already organised person who regresses into disorganisation. Unless they got drunk and had a really bad hangover. This is the only exception I can think of. Organisation just doesn’t work like this.

On the other hand, there is nowhere else for disorganised people to go but up and out of their own filth. It is not like it is socially or morally acceptable to take all those dirty socks lying around the floor and throw them over the fence into your neighbour’s backyard is it? No. Eventually disorganised people of the world have to pick those socks up and do something with them.

The Super Housewife keeps a calm attitude about dirty socks

I can tell you now that before I started on this help-yourself journey, I was not happy Jan. Not happy about socks (mainly other people’s). Not happy about housework and I was not happy about cleaning the toilet and bathroom. But now I am calm about the socks, the jocks and even the toilet and bathroom.

Are you on the path to becoming a Super Housewife?

If you are reading this and you are currently on my path, which is the path to becoming my own Fairy Godmother and Super Housewife, this is great news. Keep it up and you will succeed. If you are currently where I was once, which was totally disorganised, I encourage newbies to the revolution to proudly raise their feather dusters and move forth with cleaning gusto in your hearts and trolleys. Just like I did.

The Super Housewife is not afraid to be little crazy

What I’m saying is: Get crazy about cleaning! Getting organised is something to be celebrated fully by all disorganised people in the world. Like any vice, once you admit to yourself that you are disorgansed you are taking the first step to overcoming it.

There. I’ve admitted it. You can too.

How will you find the time to become a Super Housewife?

Lately, I’ve been more obsessed with time than any other year in the past six years. My previous obsession with time and money ended in Table Tucker; a 336 culinary manifesto for time-poor families and individuals (like me!). I still flip through the book and I can’t believe I wrote it. Who was that woman? And honestly, how did she find the time in her busy schedule?

Ironically, the cooking system I was writing (and using as I was cooking and writing it) allowed me the time to finish writing it. This is quite difficult to explain but that’s how it happened. The result (of finally finishing Table Tucker) was a realisation that I have a peculiar interest in the subject of time and more so now that I have ever experienced before.

Time should be a Super Housewife’s obsession

Time excites me the way a glass of wine excites a woman at the end of a long day of school runs, work and chasing children around swimming pools.

Darling. Get away from the edge. You might fall in…

I just love the way time is so piable. Like Play-doh. (See my article: 15 random time management tips.) In fact, I was so excited about time recently I purchased two clocks at $3 each from K-Mart. They were going cheap and I thought – why not? I love a great clock for its intrinsic timekeeping properties. Perhaps my dream of becoming the perfect 50’s style retro housewife is less far off than I think.

Time excites me because I have discovered that by being totally obsessed with devising housework related time-management systems, (that’s finding and creating systems to reduce my own work load) I can heavily reduce the time it takes to complete any task, big, small, dirty and even disgusting.

A Super Housewife’s magic formula

Systems (good old-fashioned Fairy Godmother style systems mixed with a pinch of modern technology) give me the magic formula to have the following and more:

  • More minutes in bed dreaming about Penina-coladas in Fiji
  • More minutes on the couch reading a great novel
  • More minutes in a hot bath with a glass of wine

Life is simple. When I look back on time I’ve spent with myself I don’t know how I ever made it so complicated.

Start acting like a Super Housewife

My recent discovery that acting like a duster-busting 50’s retro housewife (you have to fake-it sometimes) is a hell of a lot of fun and in acting like one, I am quickly creating a sparkling clean house in an amazing Bewitched-style, nose-wiggling time frame. For example, now that I can clean my kitchen in five minutes, I am doing more of the following:

  • Sitting in the garden sipping tea
  • Reading novels and interesting articles
  • Reading to my son and daughter
  • Calling my mother
  • Spending time at the pool

The Super Housewife has buckets of time

It doesn’t matter that I have had to be a little particular with my time journey. What matters is that now, as a busy mother-of-two, I have even more chunks of quality time – off. And I am talking buckets of time. Not just a few minutes here and there. With Table Tucker I was already getting four nights off cooking each week. But now I am freeing up full days on the weekend.  These are exciting times (Excuse the pun).

Five-minute room cleans aside; if you are a Table Tucker aficionado or even a newbie to my systems, experiments and discoveries, I hope you enjoy my upcoming time and money saving adventures.

I have to go now. I can feel a twitch in my nose…

See you in the room!

Penina

P.S Don’t forget to listen to my little Bewitched-style jingle below. My little ditty will really get your Super Housewife toes tapping.

Author, social entrepreneur, save money expert and mummy blogger.
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