The freelancer and … HOUSEWORK


2014-08-02 09.24.05

My mother would be ashamed of me for saying this, but I don’t ‘get’ housework. Never did. I do a minimum amount for hygiene and convenience, but after that … So there is some dust on the bookcases and picture frames. So? Your point is … ?

My mother had a deep conviction that the house had to be spotless and sparkling at all times. I never quite dared ask out loud, but my questions about this were: Why? Was someone coming round later to do judging? Were we going to be marked out of ten? Why would we care if we were?

Since I’ve been freelance and worked mainly from home, I’ve occasionally (and unexpectedly) had pricks of conscience about this housework thing. Maybe on some level my mother’s convictions got through to me after all. Now that I’m no longer out of the house for multi-hours every day, there’s a small annoying part of me that nags that I should be doing more hoovering. The much larger and more exasperated part of me still asks, Why? I may be inside my house but I am still working full time. What is it about being a woman at home that brings on this compulsion (however faint and far-off) to tie on a pinny and hold a cloth?

What next? Dinner on the table when the partner comes home? My partner loves cooking, and is much better at it than me, so he tends to cook, while I tend to do laundry, clean bathrooms, and so on. My sensible brain knows that it doesn’t matter how household tasks are allocated, as long as they are divided moderately fairly. Nobody needs those ghastly life-negating arguments about whose turn it is to take the rubbish out. But that small annoying subsection of my consciousness still feels a residual spark of guilt and responsibility.

I thought about a lot of potential issues when I went freelance, but housework wasn’t among them. That one snuck up on me.