Wednesday 22 November 2017

Diary of a working mum: Sorry Kirstie, domestic chores are chains that get in the way of my life

Kirstie Allsop says she secretly enjoys housework.
Kirstie Allsop says she secretly enjoys housework.
Yvonne Hogan: "Because of exploding nappies, I have had to do double the amount of washing this week."

Yvonne Hogan

We don’t secretly enjoy housework Kirstie Allsop. We secretly enjoy stuffing our faces with chocolate or drinking too much wine.

In a recent interview, Kirstie Allsop stated that she believes most women, particularly working mothers, secretly enjoy housework. Apparently we find everyday tasks such as washing clothes and cleaning the house a way of staying “sane”.

‘I’m not doing the ironing because I have to,’ she said. ‘But if I get a chance, I find it immensely therapeutic.’

Well, good for you Kirstie. I am happy for you that you don’t have to do housework: That you can dip your toe into the world of ironing and washing and cleaning whenever you feel like taking a break from repackaging domestic drudgery and selling it to the rest of us tied up with a recycled pink bow.

OK, that’s a bit harsh. I am in fact quite an admirer of Ms Allsop. I think she has some good ideas and a pleasant screen presence. I like the fact that she admits that she couldn’t do what she does without a nanny, a cleaner, a PA and an agent. I like the fact that she recently came out and criticised the use of housewife as a pejorative term. But with this secret love crap, she is getting me at a particularly bad time.

Because of exploding nappies and an upset stomach due to teething, I have had to do double the amount of washing this week. The extra hoovering, cleaning and tidying that resulted from taking down the Christmas decorations all but stole my entire weekend. 

In fairness, I am not alone in the responsibility for running our household. My husband does his fair share, more sometimes, but I don’t think men have the same visceral hatred of housework as working women do. It doesn’t mean the same thing to them.

For us, well for me anyway – I can’t talk for all working women any more than Allsop can, domestic chores represent a past with no choices; they are chains that get in the way of my life. For my husband, they are merely jobs that need to be done. 

I hate the fact that I have to get up at the crack of dawn to empty the dishwasher. That, because there is always a load of washing to put on or put away, I never have more than 15 minutes to get showered, dressed and ready for work.

That as soon as my daughter goes to bed I have to sort clothes, get her stuff ready for the next day and clean up when I just want to throw myself on the couch and watch telly. I particularly hate the fact I have to spend my weekends hoovering and cleaning.

I had a wonderful girl who used to come and help me clean once a fortnight but she moved on. I tried one more lady after that but it didn’t work out. Every time she passed my daughter in the house she would rub her face and say: “Poor baby. So small to be in school every day …” My guilt couldn’t take it. Plus, I reckon that by the time you have everything put away and the house ready to be cleaned by someone else you might as well do it yourself.

So Kirstie Allsop, I don’t love housework, I hate it. Aside from the guilt, it is the worst thing about being a working mother. It is endless. Endless. It is the cause of loads of arguments between working couples. It steals any time you might have to exercise, to socialise, to look after yourself. It steals your soul.

And every working mother I know feels the same way. We don’t secretly enjoy ironing or washing clothes. We secretly enjoy stuffing our faces with chocolate or drinking too much wine. Fact.

Follow Yvonne on twitter. @YvonneHogan


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