A Housekeeper's Holiday

Home-making is the kind of job that comes without benefits. No holidays, no sick-pay, no let up. Don't take this as a complaint, I'm just saying. Truth is, I've said it before and I will say it again: we are probably the worst bosses we are ever likely to encounter in or out of the workplace and there is just no escaping our inner slave-driver. She who tuts her head in disappointment at the blackcurrant stain spoiling our kitchen counter, refuses to indulge our well deserved penchant for scrumptious elevenses and issues demands for seasonal performance reviews that only ever leaves us feeling as though we might as well go boil our heads in fabric conditioner, so appalling have our efforts at keeping house been lately...

Ah yes my friends, the performance review. That all too often inflicted sense that all is not well, and that if we don't get round to pulling up our fishnet stockings, the house and it's darling precious in-mates might just be in danger of falling into rack and ruin.

But let me tell you a secret: it won't happen in June or July, because real life is suspended for six weeks from here on in and we are absolutely entitled to take a housekeepers holiday until the day after we stitch the kids back into their neatly starched uniforms and pop them back on the bus to school.

No really. We can take a holiday. We can grab our bossy inner housekeeper by the apron strings and inform her that we will not be partaking in anything resembling a performance review while our toes are full of sand and our freezers are full of ice-pops: we are simply too busy playing ball.

So what exactly does a holiday from housekeeping entail? Can we down tools and declare the house a bicarb free zone? No such luck. No. But what we can do is go easy on ourselves. We can tell ourselves that new regimes, and wiping the slate clean and starting again and renewing our home-making mid-year resolutions can wait and we can get by with doing the absolute bare minimum.

Truly. I've tried it. And the roof didn't fall in. I did nothing but the laundry, hung clothes up un-ironed, ate nothing but scrumptious salad and shop bought (squeal!) cake, cleaned the bathroom and washed the dishes and that was all. And everything ticked along just fine. Nobody noticed the difference. I kill myself daily, and the week I decide to go back to basics, no-one notices the difference!

So here's the idea: instead of bothering our heads daily with the effort to create a perfect home during the long Summer holiday, how about we give ourselves a break instead, and decide to plan a whole new domestic life in September and not my Darlings until?

You see the minute we choose to stop beating ourselves up about the damage inflicted on our living rooms by herds of children or too many weekends spent living in the garden we can instead choose to keep the house ticking over with the kind of daily housekeeping most people find acceptable all year around and instead indulge our vintage housekeepers souls with a Kindle full of old-fashioned housekeeping tomes, a pile of interiors mags a mile high and a secret stash of teeny tiny domestic treats to only be distributed after an Autumnal seasonal scrub.

We housekeepers are sometimes like hamsters on the wheel: intent on keeping it spinning and twizzing our tired old legs into a frenzy without ever stopping to take in the scenery. But the time is now Housekeepers. The time is now to fill our housekeepers planner with new ideas and puttery treats. To lie in the sun and drink afternoon cocktails. To leave the beds un-made and go for a walk in the sun while it's still shining.

Permission granted. Go holiday...

Tips For Survival?

* Keep all holiday souvenirs under wraps until September, so you can bring a little bit of Summer to the house once it is once again immaculate... don't dilute their influence by abandoning them to the current mayhem...

* Don't bother starting any major DIY or re-modelling jobs until the Summer has passed: life will simply get in the way until routine has been restored and all the trappings of the on-going work will only add to the sense that you are living in chaos!

* Live in a uniform of shorts and t-shirts and encourage the kids to do the same. Insist that personal towels are used for at least two showers each and air-dry them thoroughly on the line in-between. Use wipeable table mats and cloths and in short, do everything in your power to reduce the laundry until you have the majority of your day back in the Autumn.

*Make putting holiday packing away a priority above all else: coping with the house when you are only doing the minimum of housekeeping is quite enough to have to deal with without tripping over abandoned suitcases and tenty paraphenalia all Summer long...

* Keep the kitchen sink sparkly clean and free of the great unwashed and the rest of the house will feel clean...

* Cook as rarely as you can get away with and when you have to use the bbq and microwave as often as you can. Think quick and easy and you will half the work involved...

* And finally: don't sweat the small stuff as the old adage goes. Life is short and Summer days might be long, but the seasons pass in the blink of a child's eye...

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