Most hated cleaning tasks, in order of my annoyance

1. Breast pump equipment: Hands down. The little bottles and lids aren’t that bad, but I can’t tell you how often I stand at the sink in the middle of the night, gouging around little hard plastic curves and impossible-to-reach areas in the connectors and valves with a freakin’ toothpick to clear out the built-up gunk that inevitably forms with regular use. And as soon as you clean everything, you need to pump again, and thus clean again. It’s just the most depressing, obnoxious cycle. Happily, however, I’m weaning Neve, so this is just now a thing of the past. Thank. God.

Lily, opening one of her favorite Princess dresses on her 4th birthday

2. Princess dresses: Lily loves them and wants to wear them all the time – which means, when she was having accidents often, they all got urine and fecal matter on them. And what do the directions on ALL of these dresses say? Well, they appear to be made of some kind of fragile onionskin or something, because the tags all say, essentially, no hand washing, no machine washing, no dry cleaning, just apply a wet cloth. On something that’s been shat upon? I don’t think so. No, what ultimately happens is that a pile of soiled dresses mounts on top of the dryer, and after weeks pass, I work up the gumption to go downstairs, fill the washer with Woolite suds, and dip the dresses in briefly, rinse them, and lay them out somewhere to dry. Hate. This.

3. Bottles and sippy cups: Because we only need to run the dishwasher once every 5-6 days, I generally have to hand-wash bottles and sippy cups every day; and regarding the former item, I’ve found that perhaps the worst-made product on the market today is the bottle cleaner – that long, plastic implement with a conical brush and a doubled-up square sponge on one end. (The thing looks like it SHOULD be for something far more pleasurable, but alas, no.) Every one we’ve ever bought lasts – oh, I’d say about five minutes after pulling it out of the plastic. Seriously. The sponge pops out, and no matter what, you can’t get it back in there quite right again; or the stupid thing just breaks in the center, rendering it pretty useless, since the point of the whole thing is its length. If I had the will and the business acumen, I’d develop a bottle brush cleaner that was more durable. The market’s crying out for one, people.

And sippy cups just always make me feel like I’m doing a crappy cleaning job. How do you really clean those stupid stoppers? And the molded holes in the top that you plug the stopper in – they always look gross and dirty, but so help me God, there’s no way to venture in there and get anything to happen, cleaning-wise. So I hand my children the cups with beverages in them each day and vainly hope the residue doesn’t cause them to one day have children that look like Alf.

Ultimately, the big pain-in-the-ass-ness of most of these items – and the breast pump stuff as well – is the billion little parts involved. It’s not just a simple bottle or cup. The sippy has 3 separate parts; and bottles – with the stopper, nipple, screw-on top, and cover – seem downright cruel in their multi-piece design.

So a counter full of sippy cups and bottles pretty much makes me want to get in my car and drive until I run out of gas. But then I look at the booze on top of the fridge and promise myself a reward for once again facing down my daily blast of domestic purgatory.

4. Poopy underpants: Some of my life’s most disgusting, gag-worthy moments have come courtesy of this one – often in restaurant bathrooms. The whole year-plus long potty training battle has been a profound dark night of the soul. And I’ve seen poop on all kinds of things at this point. All over the toilet seat and bowl; all over me and my clothes; on the diaper bag; etc. – and the smell, of course, has unfortunate staying power. And sometimes, it feels like no matter HOW many times you wash your hands, they’ll never, ever feel clean again. But the one saving grace here – and the reason why this doesn’t rank even higher on the list – is that starter underpants are so cheap that, in the worst cases, you can make the call to just throw them into the Diaper Genie or wastebasket. I’m all about recycling and saving the planet, so I try not to abuse this. But when I’m out with both kids and find myself in this situation, the awful smell filling my nostrils as Neve fidgets in my arms, and as Lily’s every movement spreads the poop around everywhere, I’ll cop to making the call of, “You know what? Things are difficult enough. Let’s call it a day on these.”

5. Lily’s hair: This is mostly because of my hyper-sensitive 4 year old’s impossible demands: “Don’t get water in my eyes! Or in my ears!” “OK, well, it will help, kiddo, if you look up as I’m rinsing and shampooing your hair.” So she does – until the instant when the water hits her hair. Then she reflexively looks down and screams, “TOWEL!! I NEED A TOWEL!” And this process repeats several times until I’m satisfied that I’ve gotten most of the shampoo out, or until I give up – whichever comes first. Grrrr.

6. The circumference surrounding Neve’s high chair after a meal: I’d admire her range, frankly, if I didn’t have to sweep and pick up dried-up crumbs off the floor constantly.

One thought on “Most hated cleaning tasks, in order of my annoyance

  1. Catherine says:

    Hi Jenn,

    Sorry to do this in the comments, but I couldn’t find contact info. I’m a reporter with The Huffington Post and I’m interested in interviewing you about one of your posts. If you’re interested, please be in touch. I’d need to connect by Sunday at the latest and am happy to e-mail questions if that’s easier.

    Many thanks.

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