There is nothing better than putting your house in order and fulfilling the day’s exercise at the same time. I don’t think many people realize how much effort actually goes into housework. As a fully acknowledged baby boomer, I have long known this, but honestly prefer to go to the gym when I need to have a bona fide workout. I also have to admit that at this point in my life, if I go for a long run, I find it difficult to have the energy to clean house in the same day. My new theme is there is only so much you can do in one day.
I have tried to make my home my gym on two separate occasions. Each time, when it was time to lay on the floor and do a crunch, I was able to view all the dust and crumbs that needed to be cleaned. So then I immediately got up and got the vacuum and forgot about the abs. And of course when there were children around they always wanted something when I was trying to count repetitions. As a kid growing up in the Orient, my family had maids and they did all the cleaning and cooking and we played. Our house was always clean and meals were always delivered on time. They even did the grocery shopping.
When I finally had my own place I didn’t even know how to boil water, much less clean something. It took years of roommates, a husband, mother-in-law, great-mother-in-law and a stepmother to learn how to clean a house, buy groceries and cook meals. Thus far, my one unfulfilled goal has been to make enough money to hire a full-time maid. I have hired house cleaners on a few occasions to clean just a part of our house weekly and then would scramble on that morning to make the house clean for the house cleaner. Does that make any sense?
Now that fall is in full swing and it’s too cold or wet to go work in the yard, it seems like the time to make my house feel like a home again rather than a station between activities. I truly like dusting because I can listen to music and bee bop at the same time. Vacuuming is another story. These cleaning devices are either designed to break your back or destroy your hearing or both. How many of us use ear protection while vacuuming? Just like bicycles, my household has a few. We haven’t been able to part with our 300-pound Hoover so it lives in an upstairs closet between my off-season clothing and every once in a while it spews dirt instead of inhaling it. We once owned three of these. I often get to hear about how my mother-in-law’s mother used to scrub the floor by hand from corner to corner. Yes, that would be a great finale for any exercise routine, but I prefer to lightly mop from a distance where I cannot see if there is anything left. All I can say about housekeeping and aging is that this is one area where failing eyesight is a blessing.
Noelle Merrill is the executive director of the Eastern Area Agency on Aging in Bangor.