Housework: The Kingston Way

For me, the moment that summed up my approach to housework was at a regular weekly meet-up at our house. One of our friends came in, noticed the stairs and said: “Oh wow, new carpet?”

“No,” I said. “I hoovered.”

I had some vague hopes of instilling more of a work ethic and perhaps even some house-proud-ness in our kids, but when I saw our Boy (then about 20 months) spill some milk on the floor, stop to contemplate the drops, rub them out with his foot and continue walking, I realised that they were just going to follow in the family tradition. At not quite 2 years of age, the Boy was already well versed in The Kingston Way.

In case you are looking for a housework avoidance system, I will sketch out the basic rules and principles:

1. Keep things out in case you need them again.
No point tucking them away in boxes and bookcases, most things you use or bring into the house will be needed again within ooh at least a month. Put them in plain view, like say on the dining table, so you can find them again easily – that is, until the next person comes home and puts their important papers and bags of stuff on top. Same with toys. You are never quite finished playing with toys. Just leave them out, ready for next time.


All things we will definitely need at a moment’s notice

2. At all cost, avoid bending over.
It’s not good for your health. If something falls on the floor, just take a moment to say goodbye and leave it. The kids or the cats will get it eventually.

3. Quick fixes are better than long term solutions.
When you tidy, it’s probably because someone is coming to visit. No time to find permanent homes for all those objects in random places – just find different random places – preferably somewhere the guest is unlikely to come.

There. Tidied away.

There. Tidied away.

4. Designate a Bluebeard room.
Just in case you haven’t come across this folk tale: Bluebeard had a room in his house that was always locked and warned his young wife never to open it. But curiosity got the better of her and she looked anyway – tumbling out came the corpses of Bluebeard’s previous wives. If you determine to adopt The Kingston Way, it is essential to give one room in your house up completely to mess. This is where you shove all the junk from the other rooms of the house when tidying in a hurry. Make sure it has a door that shuts. Preferably, a door that locks. It is also acceptable to hide away unpresentable family members in this same room (with snacks to bribe them to stay quiet).

5. Appearance is everything.
Nobody (except perhaps my Dad) is going to check under the microwave or behind the toaster. Just clean the surfaces/bits of floor people can see at a cursory glance. Leave the rest for when you move out of your house and the absent furniture reveals entire civilisations of spiders and other mini beasts who have made a vast metropolis out of missing toys and mouldy bits of bread.

6. If you leave something for long enough, it becomes interior design.
After a while, you just don’t notice the stains on the kitchen wall or the batteries in the decorative bowl anymore. The wires in the corner are mess for a while, but then they become Modern Art.

Beautiful. And so original. You too can make a wire feature for your living room!

Beautiful. And so original. You too can make a wire feature for your living room!

Congratulations! You have now been fully inducted into The Kingston Way. Following these simple rules should ensure a minimum amount of housework-related stress in your life, allowing you to spend the time on things that really matter, like the Internet.


23 responses

    • Yes! Sometimes I want to take a ‘before’ picture for guests, so they can see that I really have tidied – otherwise they might not notice.

  1. I’m particularly liking the not bending over part, I seem to spend half my day bending over to pick up things that are only going to work their way back down there sooner or later!

    • This I find is generally the problem with housework: you’re washing dishes that are dirty again by evening, hoovering up sand and mud and play doh that will be replaced with new sand and mud and play doh an hour later and tidying things away that reappear seconds later.

      • Absolutely! It’s one of those dreaded vicious circles, nasty little monsters, there really ought to be laws against them!

  2. Another great post Judith! I’m also a big fan of leaving things out in case I need them again soon – hubby not so much 😉 One piece of advice I really took to heart after having my first baby was not caring too much what the house looked like. I noticed the mummies with the spotless houses were always super stressed!!

  3. I love it!!! I live by points 1,2 and 3 and the others too 🙂 and good to see that it’s not just my dining table that has all the ‘essentials’ on display. Brilliant post – made me laugh in recognition!

  4. I am exactly the same! I thought I had done quite well with the dusting until my FIL came to visit and I realised my 4ft11 perspective was entirely different from his 6ft3in view!

  5. This had me laughing out loud! Love it! At last someone who shares my point of view when it comes to housework. Particularly like the idea of the Bluebeard room! One of our tips is if you know someone is coming round but you’ve no time to clear up then simply get the hoover out and leave in the middle of the floor plugged in but not turned on. When they arrive say, ‘Oh, sorry, I was just about to start hoovering’ Then you can share a cuppa instead and they’re none the wiser!

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