GRUBBY LITTLE HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong


When I think of grubby, I think “three years old and covered with sticky apple juice.” But today, cleaning around my sink, I realized parts of my world have gotten grubby too and are likely to get more so as time chugs on.

Keeping your house clean used to be a normal part of life. You just did it because it was that time again. You fit it in between work and hanging out and that was it. But with the passage of time, it gets harder to do even the easy things and impossible to do the harder things.

So what do you do? Do you give up? If you can’t afford someone to give you a hand, what’s your other choice?

And if someone has an answer, let me know! Because I haven’t found any answers yet.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

32 thoughts on “GRUBBY LITTLE HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I had a friend who had a schedule. Granted she was a bit OCD, but I liked the idea. She would target a portion of her home and a specific task (like oh washing the wall (one wall..not all of them), or tidying up a drawer for her ‘cleaning’ goal. Each week she’d have one and she’d cycle them around so that eventually the whole house got cleaned, although in bits and pieces AND she’d have to start over at point A when she got to zed of course. Still it was a way to feel as if something got accomplished without trying to take on the whole monstrous chore of house cleaning all at once. And obviously bathrooms (IMHO) need a weekly scrub down, but that’s just me. I don’t do it of course, so far I can afford to pay someone to do that — it’s my personal worst housecleaning chore… ew. I’d say just do what you can and let it go. You have better reasons than most for not getting to every nook and cranny as I’m sure you did in your youth.


  2. I love the philosophy of flylady. You can find here at I believe some of her ways can definitely help those of us who not only don’t care as much but not able to do all at once!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also have a schedule which works well for me, but we all live in different circumstances. I once lived for 20 years in a so-called old apartment which was built in 1930 and you could clean all day, have a weekly routine, but you never got ahead. We had a gas cooker,, a large kitchen. It seemed to be permanently sticky everywhere and the rooms were high, the flooring wood, and I will not tell you about the wild life you sometimes found. We moved and now we live in our own apartment just 20 years old. It is stone and wood flooring with heating and everything more or less modern and there is a difference in cleaning. You cannot generalise about how you should clean. I have a cleaning lady once a week for two hours with a half hour extra every second week to do the kitchen, as I can no longer do it because of my MS. You cannot generalise with cleaning. For me it works to mop the floors daily, clean the windows every two weeks.


    1. The old house issue is always the problem. There are parts of this house we don’t live in and will probably never live in and they are dusty and need cleaning, but I can’t even get TO the area, much less clean it. I would give a lot for a flat, modern, easy to clean environment. It just gets depressing because everyone thinks its just a matter of getting organized. They don’t seem to consider that I physically can’t do it alone. It’s maddening to get the same advice repeatedly when I’ve already said “I can’t DO that.” I always wonder how these folks will manage when age catches up with them. But of course, they will be young forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I highly recommend Tasks are broken down into small segments–but make sure you actually start with her “baby steps.” 15 minutes a day is about all it takes to get strarted. She builds maintenance type things into routines which are easily managed the house can be more or less on “auto pilot” with some targeted time. I use this system as well as KonMari and it’s made a HUGE difference in getting the house to stay organized and clean. You may on occassion still need a little help with bigger jobs, but these systems go a LONG way in the battle!

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      1. The Oreck (9 lbs) is the lightest one that actually does the work. I tried three different Sharks and they worked really well — until they stopped working for no special reason. The Oreck is a pretty tough character AND IT HAS BAGS which I SO prefer to those big plastic boxes of dirt. The problem is the weight. The lightweight Sharks are great for light cleaning but fragile — and we have dogs and they don’t do very well on animal hair. And we have trees. MANY MANY trees. Too many trees. Too much pollen. Way too much dust.


      1. So much work. Took me 4 years to get everything sold from our art studios. I brought very little to Mexico and now have a house chock full again. You and I are collectors. We can’t help it.


  5. Just do what you can, Marilyn. Clean those rooms you actually live in as best you can. Maybe those areas won’t be perfect, but as long as the Health Department doesn’t come knocking on your door, make the best of it. The rest of the house? Who cares? I like a clean house as much as anyone else, but I can’t physically do that cleaning, either. I try my best to make the house presentable if someone drops by, and to keep it clean enough to be healthy, but there are rooms I never use, so why waste my limited energy on those rooms? Fortunately, my new house doesn’t seem to get too dusty, so it hasn’t become a huge issue (yet). By the time it does become an issue, I’ll be ready to move into assisted living, and my less-than-immaculate house will become someone else’s problem.


    1. I think I’m ready for assisted living, but the idea so appalls me that I’d rather battle the dirt demons. The idea of all those cheery, organized, well-meaning people telling me what to do. I don’t know if I’d buy a gun and blow their heads off or my own. The irony for me is that I don’t really need a lot of help. I just need no stairs and someone to come in once and week and mop the floor and do some dusting and maybe change the linens. And, of course, in the winter, plow the driveway. I don’t need a nurse and I’m not (currently) dying of anything. Obviously, that could change for one or both of us, but as it stands for the moment, Garry is in very good shape and both his parents lived well into their 80s even with problems and other than my mother who died of metastasized breast cancer (no mammograms back then and some really terrible surgery), the rest of the sisters all lived into their late 80s and 90s. We come from pretty hearty stock. But the back is bad and not getting better. I get tired of being me.


      1. My mother-in-law is in senior housing, in what I guess you would call semi-assisted living. She has her own apartment, with a stove and refrigerator, but she has the option of getting her meals at the in-house cafeteria if she wants. Building management takes care of trash, she just has to put it down the chute at the end of the hall. The apartment is small, so dusting is not difficult (she’s 90!). There is staff available should there be an emergency, but otherwise no one bothers her. When the time comes that she can no longer care for herself, she can move to a unit on a lower floor, which has a full nursing staff. Rent is income-based, and she has no income other than Social Security, so that’s a pretty good deal. I think she has the best of both worlds at this point, and my husband and I have actually considered applying for one of the 2-bedroom units there – but we’re not quite ready. Maybe in another 5-10 years, we’ll have to reconsider. Guess I should have thought about my retirement back when I was 20, but I didn’t.


        1. Except there are two of us AND we have three dogs. And we have more than social security, so we have too much money to get the social security discount, but not enough money to afford it on our own. And then, there are the dogs.


          1. Yep. That’s the biggest reason I won’t get a second dog, as tempted as I am at times. Cody is just small enough that I could probably get a doctor’s note saying I need her by my side so that I could take her into a senior apartment with me. If not, then we just stay in the house until she is no longer with us – another 10 years or so.


  6. That’s the cleanest looking mop I’ve ever seen!
    My come back is we no longer eat off the floors so I don’t clean them as much. It’s nice if one can keep the clutter down.


      1. The best thing to do, I have found, when you think everything is a mess and needs cleaning the urge to clean soon goes away if you lie down.


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