display | more...

"Is there life after housework?" This question is one that I never really considered until I happened upon the book by this title while visiting one of my local thrift stores. At some point in my life I decided that buying books from thrift stores was a good investment/idea; I was doing some spring cleaning, and after my kitchen was cleaned, I thought about the books I have on my shelves. Is There Life After Housework? will probably always remain there for the simple reason that it has made a tremendous impact on my life; far beyond wiping down counters, and sweeping floors. While I will never be the Betty Crocker, June Cleaver, or Susie Homemaker type; this book has transformed the way that I approach the topic of cleaning.

Far beyond a treatise on what products to use where; this manual gets into how your furniture is arranged, how you manage your 'household' time, and how to keep dirt, grime, and other soil from entering your home in the first place. Given the title, I didn't expect the author, one Don Aslett, to have as much practical advice on organization as he does. The book, while not new, is still a valuable resource in this year of our Lord, 2019, because he really understands the nitty gritty (pun intended), of every day life. You can feel free to skip the introductory chapters, but they are what endeared me to Don. He starts with a scenario that was very familiar to me; Mom is gone, and Dad is going to watch the children. It can't be that hard he muses, hijinks ensue, and these experiences give him the impetus to start his own cleaning business.

While this is intended to be a very brief overview of the book, and my opinions on the topic, I can share a few of the many tips and tricks that Don has taught me over the years. I have read the book cover to cover, and at times it is a bit of a struggle as he gets very detailed, but I have never ever regretted that investment of my time and energy. His section on rugs and floor mats alone is wisdom I needed to hear, and I don't really care that my neighbors and others think it's strange of me to angle my front door mat. The way I have it set up means that more dirt is trapped, and less enters my abode. Don preaches mats and rugs as protection for flooring, and his anecdote on how much dirt was prevented from entering a hospital simply by using mats and rugs made me a believer.

Another area where I gained insight was how furniture is arranged, what type of fabrics and textiles are most user friendly, mostly from a small children and pet ownership standpoint although feel free to insert other categories as you see fit. Naturally there is a section on how to actually clean surfaces, I learned quite a bit from that too, but the bulk of the value from this book comes from some of his other ideas and recommendations. He even has a section on how to start up your own cleaning business, and I bet I could make some money if I followed his advice. Sadly, I can't say that I have adopted all of his principles, but the majority of his exhortations have stood the test of my time. The book is a bit hokey at times, but nicely demarcated if you are the skip around and get to the point type.

Don didn't stop at this book, I read another publication of his after requesting it from my local library, and wasn't quite as enchanted even though I could see the merit of many of his teachings. I doubt the average minimalist would hail Don as a hero, but before he gets into his cleaning strategies he has a section on junk that I wish more people would read. This has almost nothing to do with cleaning, but it really helped me personally to hear Don speak with empathy about housework, and what many women are expected to manage with tiny budgets, poor tools (Don calls cleaning supplies tools, and has a broader definition than some as he includes handy work), and, in some cases, not even the most minimal of help from other family members. 

I'm trying to think of a person who wouldn't benefit from reading this book, and failing as I go through my list of friends, family members, fellow employees, neighbors, etc..., there's even a section for people who are ferocious cleaners who can't kick back and enjoy life a little. I found that amusing, your mileage may vary. I was in my thirties when I purchased this book, and had a silent moment of weeping and internal wailing when I thought about how much differently my life could have been if only I had gotten my filthy paws on this material sooner. Not all of his ideas worked for me, I tried his method of placing a receptacle for refuse in each room and quickly abandoned that idea, but the majority of this content is solid, and a real eye opener when I finally learned how many things I was doing inefficiently, or flat out wrong. 

tl;dr Read this book if you believe that my opinions on decluttering, organization, and running a household are worth anything. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go out and enjoy my life now that my housework is done.