September 12, 2007

Vacuuming

Damn it, if I keep doing this Pilates floor stuff, I'll have to vacuum, and am I not suffering enough already? I hate to vacuum--HATE IT--and I can't tell you the last time I did it. Actually, now that I think about it, I can tell you: I bought the vacuum cleaner in October 2005 before my mother-in-law came for a visit, and I used it once and then chucked it in a closet. I use a dustbuster for spot-vacuuming, and that's it.

Some of you are appalled, I can see it from here. You're picturing snowdrifts of pet hair and hillocks of Cheerios. But I swear it isn't like that. I read blogs by people who say they vacuum every day or every other day, and I wonder--are your vacuum cleaners possibly sneaking out at night to litter your floors with tidbits, just so they (the vacuum cleaners) won't be out of a job? or because they're lonely for your company?

Or, perhaps your eyesight is better than mine. I'm telling you, the floors look worse every day for a week, and then they don't get much worse than that. Periodically I go around with the dustbuster and vacuum the edges of the room where things accumulate, and the centers where the Cheerios are. That's good enough.

But today, with my sweaty palms on the carpet, I felt differently about the whole issue. I don't know why anyone buys lint rollers, when a sweaty palm will attract every cat hair and cracker crumb in the entire house. Seriously, vacuum cleaner salespeople could take me with them door to door and have me do Pilates/yoga on people's carpets to horrify them with how much stuff their current vacuums leave behind.

After I finished half an hour of the DVD (I didn't do the entire thing because I didn't want to, and because my hands were grossing me out), I crept downstairs to hunt the vacuum cleaner. It's been allowed to run wild in our house for two years now--could it still be domesticated? I brought it upstairs cautiously. Several minutes later, I located the cord, which was secreted in the creature's hide, and pulled it out. I plugged the cord in. I warned the twins, who were looking in astonishment at this foreign tableau: "Don't worry: this is a 'vacuum cleaner'! It's going to make a loud sound, but it's okay! It...'cleans the floors'!"

I figured out that the line inside a circle must mean on/off, but not until after mistakenly pressing the cord-retract button. I turned on the vacuum cleaner--and wooo, look at me, I'm vacuuming, just like a housewife! Wooo! Forward and back and forward and back and SMILE and forward and LOOK HAPPY and back!

And gradually I remembered all the reasons I hate to vacuum. I run out of cord, or I get tangled up in it, or the vacuum cleaner does. The floor is too covered in furniture to be vacuumed. There is too much crap scattered around, and periodically I hear a "clink clink!" that probably means I've vacuumed up something important. The handle is too short (no, I am not "too tall," it is too short), so I have to stoop, and my back starts hurting. The little attachments keep popping off the handle and keep popping off the handle and keep popping off the handle until I want to cry. The canister gets caught on something, and when I yank on it to free it, the cord comes out. And as soon as I start, the "change bag" light comes on--even if I have just changed the bag. Goddamned vacuum cleaner. Hate you.

Anyway. I did the living room carpet, and the living room hardwood. I did the kitchen linoleum and the little kitchen throw rug. I did the hall hardwood, but then I stopped because I ran out of cord, and when I went to plug it in somewhere else, I was overcome with despair at the thought of doing even one! more! minute! of vacuuming. Besides, I didn't want to go too far on what is after all only our second date.

Now I'm all skittish about the floors. After the twins' lunch, I was carrying Edward down the hall for his nap and I noticed he was shedding crumbs off his shirt and I was all, "Noooooooooooooooo!" and whipping out the dustbuster to get every last one off my clean, clean floor. I think this is the problem with regular housework: if you do it, you get into a constant struggle to keep it done. The best it can be is right after you do it, and every other minute of your life you're aware of it looking not-best. Whereas if you don't do it, it always looks pretty much the same and you're free to concentrate on other things, such as baking brownies or watching episodes of Angel.

49 comments:

Tessie said...

I always hear about people who get hardwoods and then "must" vacuum daily, and I always think "HUH?". I vacuum LESS with hardwoods, not more (no little lines to validate my hard work) and SURE AS HELL nowhere in the neighborhood of DAILY.

Also, I'm a dustbuster gal all the way, even for tasks like cleaning the dryer lint trap and sucking up bugs.

Jess said...

The trick I learned with my technology/gadget-obsessed fiance was to buy a vacuum cleaner (which I didn't even OWN--I borrowed my sister's once before I had guests, and other than that I used a broom/dustbuster combo, but let's face it, I used them all of twice) that was all fancy and cutting-edge but not that expensive. Torsten picked it out himself and he is so excited by it that he LIKES doing the vacuuming. I haven't even USED the vacuum cleaner yet, and we've had it for months. It's GREAT.

I totally feel you on the stooping, too--we have a small, crappy dishwasher that only gets the dishes clean if they are spread out so that they don't overlap at all. So we always end up with some extra dishes that need handwashing, and I am a bit too tall for our sink, so I have to stoop while I wash dishes, and my back starts to hurt. Unfortunately, this does not serve as an excuse not to do the dishes, as Torsten is significantly taller than me.

LoriD said...

My mom tells me that I learned to walk at 9 months by holding onto the vacuum cleaner as she went about her housework. This would explain why my kids were between 12 and 16 months (yes, one was 16 months) before they walked!

It's the hauling out of the vacuum cleaner from its storage spot that I dread. Once I'm vacuuming, it doesn't take that long and I wonder why I took me so long to haul the thing out. It was worse when we had central vac. Think several feet (like 15 or 20) of the big fat hose to wrestle from the basement and maneuver around each floor. If I had it my way, I would have all hard floors in my house (wood or tile) and get by in life with just a broom and a dustbuster.

Devan said...

Ok, I'm one of those people that must vacuum every other day. Do you have inside dogs? I think this is why I'm doomed to forever vacuum. OUr dog sheds like crazy. Plus I do too. We have a rug, but mostly hard woods and I vacuum them too because the hair piles up around the corners in little dust bunnies and tumbleweeds. Plus, our rug is darker colored and our dog is not. *sigh*

Devan said...

PS - in fact if you look hard at the pic of my 2 little boys on my blog you can probably see that, indeed, I do need to vacuum. Again.

nowheymama said...

"The best it can be is right after you do it, and every other minute of your life you're aware of it looking not-best."

I totally agree. I get so b*tchy with everyone right after I clean, whereas usually I'm like, "Sure, eat crackers in the living room. Be my guest."

janet said...

vacuum? what is this vacuum of which you speak?

Black Sheeped said...

I like to vacuum once a week. The pet hair gets too out of control, otherwise. I hate vacuuming, but I like how much cleaner I feel when it's over.

We were given a really fancy vacuum as a wedding gift, that is made for houses with pets. It has fancy allergen filters and it's bagless. I get a lot of pleasure--mixed with horror and accomplishment--out of emptying the canister and seeing how much FUR accumulates in a week. Seriously disgusting. I'd say if you can work in the vacuuming, go for it. Perhaps wait until the cat is sleeping peacefully (after yowling for 12 hours straight to remind you that he does not approve of the diet catfood) and THEN vacuum briskly in whatever room the cat has chosen to enjoy REM.

juliloquy said...

I'm with you on the vacuuming. We have wood floors, and it's usually my husband's job. But I do love the way the house looks after a good vacuuming . . .

You've probably heard the awesome Roseanne Barr quote “I'm not going to vacuum 'til Sears makes one you can ride on.”

Erica said...

We have two very large, very shed-y Labs, so vacuuming regularly is a must. I vacuum the carpet once a week and the tile kitchen floor twice. We get giant killer fur tumbleweeds if I skip it.

The other day, Maddie had busted out of her baby jail, aka pack 'n' play, and was crawling around on the living room floor. She fell over and came up with a ring of dog fur around her mouth. That was the exact moment I realized I'm probably not the best mom out there.

Pickles & Dimes said...

I don't mind vacuuming except when I'm trying to vacuum something small like the bath mat, and the vacuum suddenly acquires Massive Suction.

Penny said...

It is weird to me too when people say they 'vacuumed' their non-carpeted areas. Are brooms passe?

I have white carpet in my house, so there is no hiding the crumbs and dirt. Also 2 cats who love to shed piles and piles. So, yes, the vacuum comes out at regular intervals.

Poppy said...

I got a new Dyson vacuum last Christmas time and the first time I used it I was horrified at how much crap it sucked off and out of my carpet! I had to dump the canister 4 times just from my living room, small hall and master bedroom! And I was one of those people who vacuumed at least once a week!

What filled up that canister that day was enough to turn me into an every other day vacuumer and I still find that I have to dump the canister each time I use it (that is if I run it both upstairs and downstairs.)

Who knew that one cat, 2 adults and 2 part time kids could leave that much yuck about the place???

Artemisia said...

I never used to vacuum except before company would come over. Now, living with A. and the two dogs that seem to shed year round, I vacuum every day.

Yes, I am one of those people.

It took me a long time to get used to how noisy the vacuum was. I think that is what I hate the most about vacuuming.

The two chores I despise completely are folding clean laundry (I'll wash and hang it up all day long, but please don't make me fold it.) and sweeping. I never want such delicate floors that I can't just run over it with the vacuum.

Chelle said...

Two words for you honey; Pilates Mat. Your delicate hands will never have to touch the carpet again and, when you are done, roll it up and hide it away. Saves me from having to drag out the Hoover on less than a monthly basis. Well, in the bedroom where I excercise, anyway. I AM a bit of a neurotic about vaccuming downstairs.

Swistle said...

Jess- As the owner of a "It has unnecessary gadgets? I'll take it!" husband, I am intrigued by your idea.

Black Sheeped- Hm, maybe I will buy your vacuum. And I like your suggestion of using it to torment our awful, awful cat, who has started giving meowing concerts in the wee hours.

Erica- I don't think it takes you out of the Best Mom running, only out of the Best Housewife running--and who wants to be in that one, anyway? Too much work.

Swistle said...

Chelle- Your idea wins.

MadMad said...

I had the only preschooler alive, probably, who had never seen/heard of a broom... It was an interesting teacher conference, le me tell ya'. Anyway, it's good to know I'm not alone in the world. And you're right - if you start, then you have to keep doing it, and that's really no fun.

Katie said...

I could never vacuum daily, although with a golden retriever who sheds her body weight in fur on a daiy basis, I probably SHOULD. My kid cries. She is terrified of it. I think I'm a little terrified too. Because once I do one room I feel like I have to keep going and before you know it, I'm on my fourth flight of stairs trying to vacuum those stupid things and then I'm sweating. And I hate sweating.

I am with you Swistle on the pilates thing only making you feel bad about your housekeeping skills. Happens to me too!

Erin said...

Our old house had all hardwood floors, and it was an OLD house, so the floors were all dinged up and discolored and patched with repairs. And it ROCKED because no one noticed the small dogs forming in all corners of the house. We only dust-busted then.

Now our new(er) house has carpet. And it needs vacuuming. And the F-ING HOSE is enough to make me want to drown it in the bathtub. It's only saving grace is that Calum loves the vacuum. He wants to take it to bed with him. Seriously. So we vacuum as a way to occupy the toddler. That's the only reason our floors get clean.

Devan said...

If it makes you feel better, I got out the iron last weekend and d goes "what's that Mama?"
DH laughed hysterically. And yes, it probably has been that long since our iron has seen daylight.

Shelly Overlook said...

I'm with Devan on the no ironing thing. I stand behind that 100%. But with 2 cats and 2 Golden Retrievers, I have to vacuum often. It's the one chore I don't really mind, mostly b/c I love leaving the vacuum marks left on the carpet. Actually I'm sort of a freak about the vacuum marks. I vacuum my way out of a room so the marks are undisturbed, then I go ballistic when 20 seconds later one of the dogs is rolling around on his back ruining my pretty marks. It's weird, I know. I guess I equate the marks to cleanliness in a way, which is so not true b/c I could vacuum every day and still come up with an appalling amount of pet hair.

I've never had luck vacuuming hardwood or tile, even using the special settings. For me the vacuum just sprays the yukky bits around to further reaching areas when I use it on hardwood. Annoying. Plus, again, my pretty vacuum marks.

Stephanie said...

I don't think that you need to vacuum daily, but regularly is a good thing. I, myself, hate vacuuming. I make my boyfriend do it. I get so annoyed with housework. It seems as thoug the minute you get it looking good, someone screws it up and it doesn't look like you did a damn thing to make it look nice! :)

Mommy Daisy said...

Well, my first thought was you must have dark floors. Because if mine weren't light (or covered in filth) I'd vacuum a lot less. It's necessary, however, for me to do our light tan colored carpets (all through the house) at least 2 times a week. So I guess I'm almost there with the every other day crowd. It probably needs it that often or more, but I don't do it. (My kitchen even has carpet...yikes...but it means no mopping for me.)

jen said...

Okay I admit that I vacuum every day when I'm not pregnant or in a bad mood. You do it every day for a week, and if you walk around barefoot you'll feel a difference after awhile. Plus it's cathartic after a long day with children.

I didn't vacuum for the longest time at the end of my pregnancy with L, and we got a puppy when I was 8 months along. Well, imagine the poor animal's horror some 4 months later when I finally decided it migth be time to vacuum again! I realized he was scared of it because he'd never seen it before.

I haven't vacuumed in awhile but I do notice it. I also used to wash the floors at least once a week, more like every other day.

Oh, and I too bought a new vacuum cleaner in 2005. I used it once to vacuum my bedroom. Then I had a baby and it never saw the light of day for awhile. And I've given up vacuuming for my MIL. She won't say anything... people in glass houses and all that...

Swistle said...

Hm, sounds to me as if a lot of people have a lot of EXCUSES for vacuuming.

Tessie said...

HA! I have to agree with the excuses comment, because I keep reading all these comments that sound suspiciously like my situation (2 large dogs, wood floors, etc), and yet...I persist as a Vacuuming Slacker.

Kathi said...

I actually really like vacumming. I get a sense of accomplishment from the neat lines it leaves on the carpet. I know that is pathetic! What I HATE doing is emptying the dishwasher and putting away clean laundry. I'll wash and fold with no problem, but the clothes mostly stay in the basket until they get used again.

Misguided Mommy said...

i would far more rather vacuum then do laundry

Mimi said...

Yeah, I don't understand those people who claim to vacuum every day, either. It's like... what the hell are you finding to vacuum up?
I hate vacuuming (and cleaning toilets) so bad that I had to hire a lady to come every other week and do it for me. Take that, housework!

Shannon said...

I *heart* my dust buster.

Lauren said...

How have I missed you blog? Im rolling on the floor right now..funny funny.

As far as vacuuming goes...I told my kids 3 times that they were not allowed to vacuum because it was "grown up stuff". Now all they want to do is vacuum! Problem solved.

Devan said...

lauren, I'm writing that down for later. *makes mental note*

My Buddy Mimi said...

My husband does the vacuuming, halelujah! But then I asked him when he last changed the vacuum bag and he gave me this look like "you're supposed to change those out?" Yup, he went several years going through the motions of vacuuming but not actually picking anything up since the bag was filled to capacity.

Then we moved and got hardwood floors.

Giselle said...

Love this post. I don't actually mind the vacuuming...it's the picking up all the crap so you can reach the carpet to vacuum that I hate. We live in clutter-heaven.

But my least favorite chore? Dusting. Until it's about as thick as a pancake I don't do anything about it. Disgusting.

CakeHead said...

I hate vacuuming too. Especially in my current apartment where the sockets are just a tad too big for the plug on the vacuum. I have no idea what that's all about but it annoys the heck out of me when I've got plenty of cord, but a slight little tug (not even that) on the cord, and bloop, out comes the plug. I *try* to vacuum once a week. But no more than that. Nuh-uh.

jen said...

hey now, I don't need an excuse to vacuum. I'll vacuum if I wanna vacuum! hee hee

Oh, I vacuum my non-carpeted floors. It's faster than a broom.

I'd vacuum right now, but there's too much crap on the floors that's not vacuum-able.

Omaha Mama said...

I hate vaccuming too. And rarely do it. The hubs does it every once in a while and me about once a month (or less). I always remember how it makes my back hurt and smells dusty. Then I remember how I want a new, different, better vacuum. Yup, I'm with you the whole way. My nice, clean house has fallen to pieces this week and now I'm wondering - who cares that it was clean for a week???

Erica said...

I vacuum my hard floors because I can't ever get the fur tumbleweeds into the dustpan. I just chase them around the kitchen. It's much more satisfying to see them whoosh right into the vacuum.

As far as excuses go, I think the house looks clean when it's vacuumed. So, I can let the rest of the house go to pot as long as the floors are clean.

In the three years that I've lived in my house, I've mopped maybe 5 or 6 times. Thank the gods for grey tile.

Swistle said...

Lauren- GENIUS. Tomorrow at breakfast I'm telling Rob and William they're TOO LITTLE to vacuum. My vacuuming days are O-VAH.

Kathi- UG, ME TOO. I HATE putting laundry away. I'm training minions to do it, but of course they slob the piles into the wrong drawers.

Cakehead- My last vacuum cleaner had a smallish plug, and I found it so frustrating, I---well, the vacuum "got broken."

Marie Green said...

Ok, well I guess being in a slump and talking about cleaning is a theme this week... or perhaps a blog virus like you suggested?

Since you read my post today, you know that we vacuum once a week. And David does the vacuuming. He has to have jobs that REQUIRE forward progress, otherwise he spend our house cleaning time doing something completely unnecessary, like sorting the tupperware cupboard. And this usually happens when we have company coming and the house is a DISASTER, but there he is, neatly stacking bowls. So! Vacuuming= forward progress. We have a big house, so he does that, and I do most of the rest of our list. Works great for us! Except that I hate how quickly it all falls apart again, as you said!

If it weren't for my poor mental state when things were messy, I'd NEVER be motivated to clean ANYTHING. But you know, Crazy, and trying to avoid being it.

Crystal said...

Wait, what the hell is a "change bag" light? Do I have this on my vacuum? Nevermind. If you gave me 5 minutes to find my vacuum, I couldn't. Luckily, the hub loves to clean.

p.s. I just take my contacts out. That way I can't see the crumbs on the carpet, or the food on the baby's face.

mrsgryphon said...

When I was growing up, my Mom used to always make me vacuum and I HATED it... because I have a nifty gag reflex that kicked in whenever I heard something going up the hose. I still remember gagging my way around the living room. Sadly, nobody ever believed me. Even though it doesn't make me physically ill anymore I refuse to vacuum to this day. If I have to, I'll use the dust buster to grab they fur fluffs, but that's it. I don't vacuum. It's a rule.

JMH said...

AS a proud member of the "I Hate Vacuuing Club" I am asking for a Roomba for Christmas. I have 2 young kids and a house full of white carpet (I know! Dumb idea!But it's sooo pretty :) I SHOULD vacuum more often but I HATE it. So, I feel that purchasing a robot to do it for me will be well worth the investment.

http://store.irobot.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=2501652&cp=2174940

velocibadgergirl said...

Someone else may have suggested this, but if you get a yoga sticky mat and do your Pilates on that, the unvacuumed carpet won't bother you anymore. Trust me ;)

desperate housewife said...

Wow, it sounds like there should be a Vacuumers Anonymous group. Every day? Everyone accuses me of being a cleaning fanatic, and I've NEVER been that nuts. I think twice a week is great, once a week more than fine, and if under stress, only when guests are coming. To me, floors are last on the priority list. Clearing and dusting surfaces is much more of a visible accomplishment, and much easier to KEEP clean. 'Cause like you said- you vacuum or mop or whatever, and literally two seconds later someone is messing it up and you feel like you must run and get a baby wipe and clean that smudge off the kitchen floor! This is no way to live.

Jessica said...

I'm totally coveting a Dyson. Soo expensive, but technology! My current vacuum sucks, as in it doesn't, so I don't like using it. We whip it out before company is coming over, and use a swiffer sweep n vac for our tile/hardwood.

If you had central vac, you wouldn't have to worry about running out of cord. But then you'd be like my parents, who have a fabric condom on theirs to keep it from scratching the baseboards when they go around corners.

Amber said...

That bit about the vacuum being a wild beast free to roam your house...and pulling the cord from it's hide...you crack me up. And now, although I am one of those people who likes to vacuum, I can kind of see your point of view. I hate when I run out of cord.

carrie said...

Yeah, get a Roomba. Seriously. It works amazingly on the hardwood AND area rugs/carpet areas. Set it up, vacuums for you - always have clean floors. Just have to *empty* the little bin.

I got mine at Amazon - a re-manufactured one...and it was THE best money spent. Ever.