Tag Archives: housework

The Daily Fail

fifties housewifeAfter a cup of strong black coffee, I force myself to look at the Daily Mail every morning.

Before you start pelting me with rotten tomatoes, I read it to keep up with what the fabled Middle England thinks of benefits ‘scroungers’. And disabled people. And single mums. And mums who only have one child. I could go on. Knowledge is power.

Anyway, my particular gripe today is their ‘Femail’ section, published each Thursday. Here’s a selection of last week’s illuminating articles:

  • The couple who say the secret of a happy marriage is NOT having children – selfish and deluded or just honest?
  • The nun who ached to have a baby.
  • Would you let your man pack your holiday case?
  • I’m anorexic but love Bake Off. 
  • Simple tricks to look 10 years younger.
  • The real reason you’re stressed….SUGAR.
  • The new parenting fad experts fear could KILL your baby. 
  • The five shoes every woman should own. 
  • Quicker chores. 

If this is a snapshot of today’s modern woman, just hand me a bottle of Fairy Liquid and chain me to the kitchen sink in protest. Apart from the fact it’s truly astounding we even have a dedicated women’s section in a national newspaper (we can’t handle the proper news, eh?), this section consistently rams home the same old dreary message week after week: all women (even nuns) want children, and if they don’t, there’s something wrong with them. All mothers need expert guidance, or we could kill our babies.

We also all want to lose weight (either that or we’re at the anorexic end of the spectrum), look younger, need tips for whizzing through the housework faster, presumably to allow us more time to affectionately tease our ‘men’ when we let them pack our suitcases for us only to sigh at their helpless, endearing incompetence. Men, eh?

The subtext message is even more sinister than just wanting to keep us in a Prozac-ed version of the 1950’s. The paper consistently pits women against each other – who can forget the Samantha Brick ‘I’m so beautiful’ furore? We might laugh at this ridiculous newspaper, although their ‘experts’ could quite feasibly claim too much laughter leads to cellulite (here’s 10 top tips to deal with this orange-peeled menace!), but the fact is, The Daily Fail has a daily readership of over 4 million and their website has over 100 million unique visitors a month.

Don’t ask my opinion though, I’m far too busy whipping up a tasty meal for my man. Oh. I don’t have a man. Maybe it’s the cellulite?

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I’m Still Going…

Well, this is fabulous. The energy levels are holding up and I feel on top of the world. A lot of my ongoing symptoms seem to be disappearing too, except for the numb left arm. But hey, I still have the other one.

The only drawback is that I woke up ultra early. Even the cat didn’t come downstairs for another hour, it was that early. After getting nothing done the day before,  I whizzed through a couple of hours of work, put a load of laundry on, plumped up the sofa cushions, rearranged the food cupboards and watered the plants. At 7am I woke The Teenager with a cheery yell but judging by the grunts coming from under the duvet, he wasn’t feeling quite as awake as I was.

But the sun is shining and I looked back on my recent fatigue with a shudder. You don’t realise just how awful it is until it’s over. So tedious, so mind-numbingly boring and so depressing. I know this might not last though, so I am laying down plans for how to cope the next time the fatigue juggernaut rolls around:

The sofa becomes the centre of operation. Therefore it is vital to have everything within easy reach. It’s amazing just how much you can get done whilst lying down – emails, paperwork, phone calls, Twitter. Must make sure I have remote control to hand, that there’s a good stack of programmes on Sky Planner (nothing too taxing – Come Dine With Me, Escape to the Country and America’s Next Top Model), a couple of magazines and a generous supply of snacks.

With a bit of luck, you can also socialise from your sofa. Invite a friend over and casually suggest they swing by the takeaway. If you’ve got a teensy bit of energy but not enough to go out on a Friday night,  have a friend over for a bottle of wine. Stay on the sofa, but prop yourself up (you don’t want to seem rude). When they leave, just slide back down and resume resting position.


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Woo Hoo! (Possibly, Maybe)

I woke up yesterday morning and felt strange. I had a shower, made coffee, put the cat out and still felt strange. I had….energy. How bizarre. Where did that come from?

After a couple of weeks of feeling punch-drunk with tiredness, this was altogether frightening as well as exhilarating. How long will it last? How many things can I cram into this window of opportunity?

I have to calm down and think straight. I rummaged round in the kitchen drawer and pulled out my list of ‘Things To Do When I’m Not Tired’.

I scanned through it. None of them will happen. I’m definitely not climbing a ladder to get the leaves out of the guttering. With my balance? And I won’t be painting the bedroom doors – what if I get hit with fatigue half-way through? The doors could remain semi-painted for weeks, months. So my revised tick-list is a little less ambitious. Cook dinners from scratch, vacuum through whole house (not just the bits I can see), sort out accounts, shred that pile of old paperwork and get rid of the cobwebs that have been tormenting me from the sofa.

The thing with MS fatigue is, when the door of energy opens, you have no idea whatsoever how long it will be before it slams shut again. A day? A week? My mind was buzzing. So many things to choose from. I could watch a complicated, subtitled film and actually follow it, I could attempt to cook a mushroom Wellington, I could dust off my Nordic ski poles and go walking.

I spent most of the day doing almost nothing, paralysed with indecision yet marveling at actually having energy and a clear head. I read half a book, as I had the energy to concentrate and not drift off. I wrote more lists of things I have to do. I caught up with my emails. I know I should have done a whole lot more, but I was just enjoying the sensation of being fully awake. The fact that I could do things if I chose to was enough for me. Being able to think straight without my head being full of cotton wool gave me a chance to get my head in order.

I have a busy week ahead. I’m hoping to keep the energy going and tick some more things off my list. Give me a break, eh, MS?


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The Teenager is Back

After three days of peace and quiet, The Teenager is back. I missed him like crazy, but being an off-duty parent has been bliss.

I cleaned the house from top to bottom on Friday and it’s stayed just the same. The towels are still hanging up, the loo roll doesn’t disappear quite so fast (does he eat it?) and the washing machine is taking a well-deserved break. I don’t walk through clouds of Lynx. There’s been no homework supervision, driving to rugby games or food shopping for an army.

On his way back home though, the texts came thick and fast:

Can I have a sleepover? No.

Can I have a tenner for the cinema, and bus fair? Maybe.

Has anyone been in my bedroom? Yes, me. Emptying your bin.

Did the cat miss me? Um, I guess so.

At the supermarket earlier, I made the mistake of calling him to ask what he wanted for a welcome home tea.

‘Pizza. But it has to be Chicago Town’.

‘Ok, wait til I get to the freezer cabinet. Right, which one?’

‘Cheese, but not the four cheese one.’

‘They don’t have that. Pepperoni?’


‘Duck? Sloppy Joe? Beef? Mexican?’

‘Nah. Just cheese.’

‘They. Don’t. Have. That’.

‘I suppose I’ll have to have the pepperoni then.’

I get to the checkout. The Teenager calls. He’s changed his mind, he’ll have the four cheese one. The freezer cabinet is at the other end of the store. I buy the Pepperoni.

There’s no such thing as an off-duty parent, is there?



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Doing Housework the MS Way

MS and HouseworkI used to be a real neat-freak, probably a hangover from my tiny 1-room box in London years ago, when the sofa was next to the cooker and I could switch the kettle on from my bed. I was there until I was 8 months pregnant and could clean the shower by simply rubbing soap on my stomach and turning round.

Up until a year ago I was still pretty much the same until jaw-dropping fatigue hit me like a demolition wrecking ball. Standards had to slide, but rather than becoming depressed, I just came up with some handy hints, which I am now passing on to you:

  • Rip up your carpets and put down wooden flooring wherever possible, adding a few non-fluffy rugs if necessary. Majorly cuts down on dirt.
  • Chuck out most of your knick-knacks and ornaments – dust traps.
  • Use paper plates whenever you can. There’s some great designs now, don’t worry.
  • Use make-up remover wipes, then when you’re brushing your teeth use wipe to quickly clean sink. A bit icky, but small gestures count.
  • Fit dimmers to your lights and adjust accordingly – the less dust you see, the less it matters.
  • Borrow a small child. Put a feather duster in one of their hands and a lollipop in the other. Make up a fun game, but check they dust with the right one.
  • Invest in light-coloured furniture (IKEA, I salute you) – shows up way less dust.
  • If you must invite friends round, wait til it’s dark and light candles. Lots of them. And make sure there’s wine. Nothing matters after a couple of glasses.

If questioned by worried, well-meaning friends about the shabby state of your house, gently explain you are channeling the vintage, boho-chic vibe. William Morris once said, ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’. So that covers me and The Teenager then.

And don’t forget, experts reckon a little dirt is good for your immune system, so don’t feel guilty – you’re actually looking after yourself…

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