Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

How I surrendered to housework

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 28 February 2012

I thought I was going into this baby thing with my eyes pretty open. I was eight years old when my little sister was born, so I was under no illusions about babies and toddlers being delightful Boden-clad little munchkins. I knew that they wailed and puked and screamed and wriggled and didn’t do anything even remotely interesting, like sitting up, for aaaaages.

So I knew all that. But what I failed to realise is quite what a drastic increase in housework a baby means. I don’t know why, but one extra person living in our house seems to have tripled the housework, rather than just increasing it by 50%. And girls of my generation simply haven’t been brought up to know how to keep a house tidy; we were supposed to run the country.

I am lucky: my husband, although he doesn’t actually snap on the Marigolds, isn’t actively untidy. I know women whose husbands leave a trail of dirty pants and socks around the house for them to pick up and pretend that they don’t understand how to switch the dishwasher on. My husband has his chores, (all bins and recycling, all shopping and cooking on the weekend), and he sticks to them faithfully. Once in a while I will even find him cross-legged in front of the open fridge, giving it a clean.

Even then, the amount there is to do, just to keep the house looking okay and everyone in clean clothes, is simply staggering. Up until now I have being trying to deny the obvious – that it’s my job – just doing little bits here and there, all the while filled with resentment. But in the last few weeks something has changed and I find myself surrendering to domestic work.

So when I’m not cleaning the kitchen, I’m tidying the living room, or making the bed or folding laundry. Now that I’ve stopped fighting it, I am surprised to find that I feel better. How long I can keep it up is another question.

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