Whistle Work

Last weekend my wife and I drove north a couple hours to visit our granddaughters.  The last time we saw them was in the pre-pandemic days of yesteryear.  We spent most of Saturday afternoon in the backyard playing little-kid games in the makeshift pool and breaking out a plastic Tee-Ball set.  Later on after a barbeque, it was time to clean up the toys.  My son and his wife promptly requested the “The Clean Up Song” from Alexa, and my granddaughter hopped to it.  Watching her I caught myself thinking, can’t I help with the clean up too?

Google The Clean Up Song and you’ll find several dozen versions to choose from.  Cleaning-to-music for kids has been around a little while now.  I wish we’d used this approach more often when our own children were little.  It’s a song!  It’s a game!  It’s almost whistling while you work.

For me, household chores morphed to something more therapeutic as the kids grew up and out of the house.  Taking out the trash became extra steps towards my ten thousand (we have a long driveway).  Washing dishes became a mini-spa of warm water and soap bubbles.  Making the bed and arranging its pillows channeled my inner Marie Kondo.  Folding clothes was how to avoid lazing on the couch while watching TV.  (On that note, an ironing board should be called a “clothes-folding board”, if you go by my folding minutes (100%) vs. ironing minutes (0%).

Lest you think me compulsive, a recent Wall Street Journal study comes to my rescue.  During these stay-at-home times – locked-down residents find similar stress relief in housework.  Washing windows allows the slow, deliberate wax-on-wax-off zen of “The Karate Kid”.  Cleaning countertops tempts flowing dance, like Julia Stiles in the diner in “The Prince and Me”.  Ironing doubles as light weightlifting. And vacuuming?  Nah, I got nothing there.  Vacuuming’s still just a chore.

The lovely Ms. Stiles and her diner dance

Headspace

Headspace, a software company focused on meditation and better sleep, includes housecleaning exercises on its app.  They recommend “quiet housework in dim lighting” just before bed (but then how do you see what you’re cleaning?) They want you to sweep the floor and wipe the counter in smooth, restorative motions.  Laugh all you want but the use of their “cleaning-related content” is up 20% since mid-March.

Household products are trending the same way.  Swiffer wants you to mop with “a clean home and a clear mind” and suggests a facial treatment while you’re at it.  They switch “clean the counter” to “give your surfaces a little TLC” (as if your surfaces are close friends).  Proctor & Gamble fortifies its “Gain” laundry detergent with essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus, touted for their calming effects. “Clear Your Mind with a Cooling Clean!  A Soothing Scent with a Mindful Twist!”

Call me one-in-five (not compulsive) because P&G research claims 20% of us clean to relax or reduce stress.  Sure, but we also clean to clean.

I never thought about laundry this way but the Journal article likens clothes-cleaning to problem-solving (which we guys are all about).  Sort the clothes, dose the detergent/softener, fold according to best-fit in drawers, and then put everything away.  It’s a process, and it’s a new puzzle every time.

To take it one step more spiritual, household chores are considered seva – a form of selfless-service.  Says one yogi about dirty dishes, “You’re reminding yourself you’re washing for the divine grace that flows through your husband, your wife, your children, or your parents.”  Whoa now.  Me, I’m just washing dishes.

I’ve neglected to mention another household chore: cleaning bathrooms.  It can be “healing” sponging the porcelain to a sparkling-white shine, conducting the bowl brush in large, lazy circles, or returning to nature in the gentle flow of the sink (waterfall) or toilet (whirlpool).  No, no, NO.  I don’t do bathrooms.  Not even if you ask Alexa to play “The Clean Up Song”.

Some content sourced from the 5/27/2020 Wall Street Journal article, “Sick of Cleaning?  Turn It Into Meditation”.

Bathroom Sync

During our town’s annual “Parade of (new) Homes” last summer, my wife and I came across a master bathroom with two showerheads in the same space. The fixtures were mounted on a single wall, almost beckoning the future owners to a side-by-side shower date. Several other couples gave pause alongside us. Shower at the same time? Nope.  We’re not among the 77% who love the idea. On the other hand, my wife and I would never give up our side-by-side sinks.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “My Biggest Remodeling Regret…”, the author bemoans the lost space consumed by her dual master bathroom sinks.  She says, in hindsight, she would’ve exchanged the space of one sink for a linen closet.  Remarkably, in the seven years since the remodel, she claims she and her husband never used their side-by-side sinks simultaneously.  In a nutshell, she’d prefer to spend her bathroom time alone.

We’re in the midst of a remodel ourselves, which displaces my wife and I to the upstairs for several months.  As a result, we’re sharing a bathroom with one small sink.  It doesn’t work very well for us.  Why?  Because we like our own sink real estate.  We like the freedom of our respective bathroom routines whether or not we’re both in there.

Too “cozy”!

Bathroom habits speak to our individuality, don’t they?  What works for my wife, what works for me, and what works for our juxtaposition may be a far cry from your own preference.  Consider this scenario: would it bother you if your connecting bathroom were open to your bedroom (that is, no door)?  I’ve seen several layouts where the bathroom counter is the first thing you see when you prop yourself up in bed.  Ugh.  Our bathroom demands a door.  Having said that, I have no problem barging through said door, even if my wife is in the middle of getting ready.  Why?  Because a) we’re comfortable sharing our bathroom routines, and b) the toilet has its own little room; a “water closet” with a door.

But why side-by-side sinks specifically?  Because we often get ready for the day (or the night) at the same time.  Sure, we’re pretty good about weaving and bobbing around each other with a single sink (like we’re doing right now), but I much prefer grooming in my own space.  Then there’s the chatter.  We routinely ask each other’s mirrored reflections “how does your day look?” or “how does tomorrow look?” while we’re in bathroom sync.  We’ve done this for so long I can even understand my wife’s responses through her teeth-brushing.

The Journal article spends several paragraphs lauding the opportunity for privacy in the bathroom – not because habits are embarrassing, but because the bathroom can be a therapeutic escape from the chaos beyond its doors.  The bathroom is cozy-small.  The bathroom is typically simple and without clutter.  The Journal suggests magazines or iPad time or even singing (singing?) to promote rejuvenation.  I’m not here to dispute the notion.  I’m simply saying the bathroom’s not where I’d choose to rediscover my mojo.  Pretty sure my wife feels the same way, else I’d lose my barge-through-the-door privileges.

I’ll concede one point to the Journal.   The author brings up (and promptly tears down) another recent side-by-side trend: toilets.  Really?  “Going” at the same time?  Then again, I see more and more men un-self-consciously on their phones while “taking care of business” in public restrooms.  Maybe they’d be okay with a bowl-by-bowl conversation.  Seriously, how would you feel about receiving a call from a public restroom?  I’d reach for the hand sanitizer. I’d also demand the caller focus instead on his/her business and call back later.  Much later.