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Just five easy pieces

The Mommy Chronicles

September 21, 2012
Anne Blankenship ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

I have a terrible confession to make. My husband Larry is a complete failure at housekeeping. I have tried bribery (Larry is very fond of brownies), complaining, punishments (Larry does not like going to my high school reunions) and withholding privileges (Larry does like to go to movies with me.)

To be fair, he freely admits he's terrible at it. He admits, and I've written before about the vast miasma that is Larry's car.

"I just never think about it until it gets to a certain point," is the way he excuses himself. Unfortunately that certain point is when he can't see out the passenger side window. What makes it worse is that he drives to Des Moines to go to work every day, so you'd think he'd notice before that.

His office is about the same. Piles of papers, computer parts, and CDs all over the place. He knows where everything is, so why should I complain? Just the other day, I asked him for the utility bill, and sure enough, he went to the third pile from the right, down about 10 pages, and there it was. I was happy he knew where it was, but I could have done without the smirk that told me "You didn't think I'd be able to find it, did you?"

Housework is one of the things that I think every couple struggles with. It hasn't been any different for Larry and me. We have different styles I think. I'm inclined to do a quick pass and call it good, while Larry tends to leave things and hope that I'll get disgusted enough to do it instead. I think it's hereditary, as we both take after our mothers to a certain extent.

Larry's mom is a complete pack rat and tends to keep everything. Unfortunately, she has Larry's filing system so her house can be an adventure. My mom was a fanatical cleaner. One of our favorite family stories was about the time she broke her leg and insisted on vacuuming the floors before going to the hospital.

Daniel takes after Larry more than me, but it's really hard to get him to see how important it is to keep his room clean and to help with the house in general when things get left until they are overwhelming. So we have started a new system that we call "Five Easy Pieces." It was actually Larry's idea simply because he was sick of the mess. He said "You know what, if we all just picked out five things anytime we leave a room and either threw them away or put them away, the house would look a lot better."

This falls under the type of thing where I am tempted to say "Really? Do you have any other great revelations? Say, putting gas in your car when you get to a quarter tank will keep you from running out? Or maybe you'd like to proclaim the benefits of putting your socks in the hamper instead of tossing them on the floor?" However, since I do love my husband, I reply "Hey that's a good idea."

So we are trying yet another method of keeping the house clean. In all fairness, this seems to be working. I have to remind Larry, Larry reminds Daniel, and Daniel reminds me. Amazingly, the house is starting to look better too.



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