Kind of OT-why some products no longer work well.

quiltgloApril 16, 2006

I'm organizing a closet so I can put a toilet in in for a couple for weeks while I do some bathroom repairs.

I have several items in the closet which I might as well toss. I can't figure this out.

When my oldest was a little guy, we lived in a townhouse with all hardwood floors. I could just start at the top of the stairs with my dustmop and grab up everything and out the door it went.

When we remodeled this house, I didn't want carpet. I had this dream that I would just take a dustmop and move everything down and out. Well, on laminate, it just isn't happening. The good old dustmop just shoves it around and doesn't work nearly as well as the swiffer cloths. I've found that microfiber cloths are working well and I don't have to throw stuff away.

Not only do we sound like a herd of elephants, the stuff that use to hide in my carpet is so darn obvious that floor care is now a daily chore instead of weekly.

Is it the laminate vs hardwood? Dustmops made differently? I'm now on my third vacuum and two swiffers trying to keep up with this place, not even counting a mop for the kitchen and bathrooms.

With that thought, a friend and I were discussing housework. Oh, joy. She was frustrated because she felt like if her great grandmother could keep up without all of the modern conviences we have, why couldn't she?

I believe that with every advance in household tools, the expectations keep rising. We have great vacuums and mops that now need to be stored somewhere. My grandmother kept her broom on the back step.

I know my great grandmother had to boil the clothing, but her kids went to school barefooted and wore clothing for a week. Look at the increase in laundry we have now because we are expected to be clean at all times?

A yard was a sign of wealth 100 years ago and now it consumes hours of our week during the summer.

I'm not willing to go back to outhouses, woodburning cooks stoves and making lye soap, but I have to wonder if some of our organizational issues are not only related to the availabilty of excessive stuff, but also not enough time for generations to teach the skills in dealing with all we do and have.


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Excellent and thoughtful points -- and so many of your ideas do make sense ....

Basically we can now do laundry, vaccum, dust etc. with some of the fanciest gadgets on earth -- but basic household cleaning ideas still hold water -- and make the most sense. (for example "clean as you go")

Do a bit each day, learn to live with SOME dirt and dust (despite what TV ads may tell us!) -- and try to keep a hold on the amount of clutter and "stuff."

Basically women have always felt that frustration of the sheer volume of tasks that need to be performed to keep a basic household (the home, the yard and of course the people) running along .... in the past --- and even now ---- many women hire someone to help out. Most simply can't do that --- or will not -- for various and sundry reasons.

But the way that advertising and consumer goods have ALWAYS been sold (for hundreds and hundreds of years!) ----- by appealing to our guilt and/or fears ----- and we tend to buy them. Sometimes products really do make a good difference --- and sometimes we get conned.

Household tasks are basic, repeating and thankless tasks (for the most part) -- and many are simply downright boring or nasty.

But those tasks are so necessary. We just have to take charge of them -- and not let them either dominate our lives (a little dirt ain't gonna kill you) OR ignore them until the household chaos takes center stage.

Find a balance -- one that works for each household at the time -- and also a system that can change and be flexible.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 12:50AM
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We have hardwoods and I only use the dustmop. The swiffer does not work as well.

I know what you mom who used to live in the "good ole days" pointed out this very thing..that the more gadgets she has to clean with, the messier it seems her house is!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 2:06AM
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Don't forget too--in the good old days women had help to do all those chores! I read a book recently that pointed this out; from very ancient times right up til the industrial revolution, it was standard practice for housewives to have domestic workers doing some or most of the household tasks. And not just wealthy households either--before there were alternatives, even middle class families could count on lower economic level women being eager to take on that type of work. Once women had a choice to go work other places (factories etc) the supply of cheap household labor dried up.

Add in many more women working outside the house at some level and the expectation that one person is going to be able to maintain a home, particularly a home lived in by a family, is pretty unrealistic in my opinion.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 9:10AM
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My grandmother had a housekeeper (in the 1920s) - a full-time "day worker" who did the cooking and cleaning.

Granny? She had a full-time job as a bookkeeper!

Standards wer a bit lower. Except for the parlor, which was always spotless, "Spring Cleaning" was when things got deep cleaned.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 10:07AM
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Ann, we were the lower class. My grandmother was working as a live-in domestic at the age of 11, married by 13. Some middle class people really abused those domestic workers. Can you imagine working 6.5 days a week for little more than the food you eat and a place to sleep?

All of the women in my family worked. They also didn't live in 3,000 square foot homes, just raising kids in two bedroom places.

I just think the standards have gotten so high that many of us are feeling so pressured just to keep things "normal." I think I would have been a sinking ship if I hadn't found and adapted Flylady's system.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 7:53PM
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"Ann, we were the lower class. My grandmother was working as a live-in domestic at the age of 11, married by 13. Some middle class people really abused those domestic workers. Can you imagine working 6.5 days a week for little more than the food you eat and a place to sleep? "

Isn't that a terrible way to live?! It's why as mentioned, when there became alternatives to that kind of grueling work for such little pay and often terrible conditions, women (and many men) who would have had to settle for jobs as domestic labor instead chose factory work or other 'industrialized' jobs.

I agree too, homemaking standards have gotten higher. Something else--we live in much bigger homes, generally speaking, than our parents and grandparents. The average size house has increased on the order of 25% in the past 20 years or so, even as our family size decreases. And then there is all the *stuff* to keep up with. And to boot, the obsession for cleanliness and germ free living, which leads to the expectation that if we buy enough products that are 'antibacterial' and kill enough germs by cleaning like crazy we can make our houses spotless. Nobody was doing that back in the good old days.

Of course we do have much better technology to work with--my MIL still talks about wringer washers as a child and no clothes dryer as a young wife/mother. And yet...if you have a whiz bang washer/dryer, doesn't that just mean you feel guilty if you aren't stripping linens weeklya and washing clothes as soon as they get removed after one wearing. Doesn't better technology sometimes end up generally making more work than if it was harder to do?

A complicated situation indeed.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 10:43PM
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When our grandmothers had to clean their homes, they didn't have to deal with the extras we have today, such as offices and family rooms with stereos, TV's, CD's, DVD's, etc. I remember growing up and there was one television in the corner of one room. There was no office or library, just one bookcase to hold the miscellaneouos books. Us kids didn't have all the toys kids have today.

This completely cut down on the clutter. It must have been a pain to wash dishes by hand and do the laundry back then but cleaning house had to have been easier.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 5:41PM
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In my opinion things do work better than in the old times. I'm a veteran from those times. Hardwood floors required paste waxing and buffing now and then tokeep them shiny, then the dust readily showed. Vacuum cleaners are much more efficient now than then, many light weight, self-propelled with myriad of handy attachments. We never had household help but mom kept house until WWII when women went to work. She had one day for washing and hanging out clothes and one day just for ironing. I do my wash, folding, and "ironing" in one morning while I watch TV and bake bread. The problem these days is not the expectation to be clean as I see signs of "unclean" everywhere, clutter in yards, garages not even a volkswagen would fit in. The problem is too much of everything. When we thought we had finally made it, 35 years ago, we bought a house with 4 bedrooms and a 3 car garage, and believe it or not, we can drive 3 cars into it every day. We just got rid of the third car (pickup) as we only have 2 drivers. Today, our house is considered medium but this is it for me. My daughter, who has been a housewife most of the time has a 5 bedroom house, 5 kids still at home could never keep a neat house until she got a housekeeper, comes in every two weeks, 2 ladies work on her house about 4 hours and leave it sparkling everywhere. She has to stay on the kids to keep their things put away and that appears to be her fulltime job. There's many more conveniences we could purchase but my goal now is to keep it as simple as possible. Too much floor space to keep organized and clean. I won't do it unless we get some household help which I've never had. The biggest problem is so much unneeded stuff we don't really need. If I didn't have clutter, my house can be cleaned in a couple of hours. All closets are full of clothes, bedding, seasonal stuff, toiletries,etc. No place to hide more stuff and we refuse to toss stuff in the garage. It's still my goal to clean them out, donate or toss but that takes ambition and time which seems harder to come by these days. FlyLady where are you?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 11:06PM
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one other thing, we spent so much time cleaning, we didn't have time to play.

And yes to terrapots comments about the clutter. For one thing, our dollars go further, and we can buy more. So we have more.

When people didn't have a lot of money, or when things cost proportionately more $, they didn't buy a lot of stuff.

When I was a kid, for example, a Barbie was $5. If some kid had 4, we knew she was from a rich or indulgent family. My kid has 26 of them. And that's not an exaggeration (though I am counting all the "Ken" and "Margie" and "Skipper" dolls).

Bcs people just have more disposable income than ever before. At least, the people that I am connected to, do.

I have 2 sets of good china and 1 set of everyday dishes. I have clothes for a month, probably. And I wash them after each wear, usually.

Of course, back when people wore the same clothes for several days (and had aprons they wore to protect their clothes, or collars they wore over their shirts, so the shirts wouldn't stain so easily), they had more parasites. Which was why they boiled their clothes.

I'll take life in the here-and-now. With less stuff, if I can find a way to swing it.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 10:12AM
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About the laminate vs hardwood flooring. We had parquet wood floors (from 1960's) in our last house & they were always dusty. I tried a dust mop but it just seemed to pick up the big lint & leave a fine layer of dust behind. We were going to put laminate in this house but that funky hollow sound bothers me. And now what you've said about the dust.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 10:32PM
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We are remodeling our house and so have moved to a 2 bedroom apartment --and suddenly can see what huge amounts of clutter we have. Whole families with 4 kids live next door. My husband and I fill two whole closets with our clothing and this place started out looking like Good Will. I think its true that we wash much oftener than we should because now that I don't have a washer and dryer in the next room I can really see how often and how much we wash. We are getting better at throwing stuff out.
Thanks for the info on wood floors, my husband has been talking to me about wood floors throughout the house. suddenly they don't sound so great.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 5:22AM
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Don't forget, in the 'olden days' kids helped around the house. They weren't sitting around getting fat playing nintendo--they had chores they were expected to do.

Too much stuff.
Too many rooms.
Too little help.
Too unrealistic expectations. (Anyone seen that TV ad for Oust? That makes me so mad! 'Air sanitizer' indeed! AS IF it were even possible to sanitize the air! Nor should you even try! This kind of destructive advertising is one reason why so many people have asthma--their systems get used to nearly sterile conditions, so when they're exposed to something their bodies go into overdrive.)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 12:42PM
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