The first time I went over to my husband’s house (then boyfriend) was quite the shocker – I walked into a pretty decent bachelor’s home and as I started touring the space, I discovered a shockingly unmade bed.

His wardrobe was neat and nicely packed, but his bed was unmade. It wasn’t adding up.

I mentioned it on the spot, and he said “Oh, MaGiven (his domestic worker and still with us ‘til this day) was not in that day.”

The first time I went to visit hubby’s family in Limpopo was such a trip for me (in more ways than one). I am a first-born daughter; this means I am the deputy parent (as we all know). So, being married to the last-born boy, I have inherited last born status and my goodness it can be quite the mind adjustment when on holiday vs when back at home.

It dawned on me that background and understanding where your partner comes from is soooo important in couple and most especially cleaning conversations.

Here’s the reason why:

I woke up on the first morning I’d spent at my in-laws-to-be’s home (mind you, I was still the girlfriend) and went to the bathroom to refresh and returned back to a fully made up room. The bed is made for us. Embarrassed and feeling so terrible that they perhaps must have thought I had bad manners, I told my husband and asked if he could apologise for me and he shared that that’s just how things are in their home. Because my mom in-law was a chief home manager and delegator, everyone had tasks and my sister-in-law was in charge of making beds and cleaning the bedrooms. The other siblings were assigned task such as cooking, cleaning the kitchen and other rooms, running the family extra income business (my mom in-law is a hustler of note) and my husband, being the youngest of 5 was the resident ‘Stuur boy’ lol… so, when stokvel money needed to be collected from the house opposite right from their home, he was sent. When milk ran out, he was sent. A plus for me is the fact that to this day pregnant or not, when I ask for tea as we prepare for bedtime, he’ll never fuss at all, it’s like auto mode for him to be sent around (sneaky me, I know) lol.

All I do is lounge and cook along with my brother-in-law. No dishes. I lounge and cook. Other tasks are reserved for other people and my Husband, to this date, remains the ‘stuur boy or ice boy as they are now called’. He still gets sent around every holiday we are at his home. You can literally send him 10 times to go get you a cup of water and he’ll do it without a single complaint (the perfect pregnancy partner LOL). I, on the other hand, will side eye you if you even think of sending me somewhere – you can’t even ask me to pass you the remote next to me.

There are things though, that over the years we never quite spoke about and I’d sort of just dismissed them (the first born in me). Like household chores that need to be done. Lockdown has taught me that these fundamentals cannot be ignored, I don’t want to end up resenting my husband. So, we had to have the talk.

There was one particular day when I was busy cleaning the kitchen, he wanted to relax and have a drink with me to get some “us time”, I thought to myself, “Well, if you helped me clean the kitchen, wash some dishes and wipe down the kitchen surfaces we could definitely have some ‘us time’.” It made me so upset he didn’t see it this way.

I had to find a calm time to talk to him about it in a manner that he understood.

Firstly, I didn’t fall in love with him because he’s an amazing cleaner. In fact, he told me he had no intentions of EVER cleaning… but things changed. We had children and my A-type self finally realized that I bit more than I could chew, and he needed to get into the tidying and cleaning with me – In fact, he would when I’d mention it.  

So here we are embarking on the a bootcamp here at the Leshabane household, so he (and I’ll be roping in the boys too) can learn simple ways to maintain my level of clean (eeek) and do work around the house without me having to tell them.

Two things I realized I was not doing is:

  1. Communicating – I just expected him to know the house was dirty when he didn’t consider it as “too dirty”.
  2. Teaching – I have unmarked spray bottles for various uses and I expected him to know what to use for where and how to use it. (This has resulted in him using the spray bottle with surface disinfectant to wipe a floor stain… twice).
  3. Scheduling – I literally just get up and clean. Non-routined, unannounced and without talking or allowing anyone to prep themselves. I realise this isn’t fair.

There are two resources I will be using on this journey:

  1. Cleanipedia

Cleanipedia is like an online dictionary and encyclopedia for cleaning. For everything. This will eliminate the need to wait for me when they can’t figure out what to do when Malik has spilt paint on the carpet… Look on Cleanipedia!

  1. Cozi App

(Google & Play Store)

Cozi is our family’s schedule and diary. And our cleaning schedule will be uploaded on the app to also restrict me from cleaning for the sake of cleaning and rather have set times and days that are dedicated to certain tasks, allowing the family to be less tense around me LOL.

Will you be joining us?

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