Sing with me to the tune of the Brady Bunch theme (if you’re old enough to remember it):
Here’s the story of a lovely lady
who was busy writing books, and couldn’t clean
So her house turned upside down, without a vacuum
and the bunnies won.
Okay, so I stink at poetry and song lyrics, but those were never my goal. When I got my first writing contract, this was my bio: Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/inspirational romance writer. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their eight-year-old son, and their church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.
Just for the record–our son is sixteen now, he’s six one, and he hugs my head. We gained a black and white cat, and our beloved chocolate lab joined the weenie dogs in heaven last fall. But I’d still rather write than clean house.
Back when I started writing books, this wonderful keynote speaker at a writers conference told us to stop cleaning our houses and write. Housework could wait. Train our families to pitch in or hire someone, but write books and let the house take care of itself.
I didn’t totally take her advice, but since I’ve always hated housework, I did put it off and write instead. When my husband mentioned that the house was a mess, I told him about the speaker. Though always supportive of my writing, he didn’t like her advice. He said when I got published, I could hire someone to clean. I knew I’d never hire anyone to clean my house though. I’m much too cheap to pay someone else to do something I can do myself, even if it’s something I hate to do.
Once I got published, deadlines kicked in, and housecleaning got kicked even more to the back-burner. I came up with a system that worked there for a while. Instead of taking a whole day off from writing to clean, I cleaned all week in small increments. On Mondays, I straightened. On Tuesdays, I dusted. On Wednesdays, I vacuumed. On Thursdays, I mopped. On Fridays, I cleaned the bathrooms.
Laundry has always been an every other day chore, but I saved time there by having my husband put a clothes rack above the washer and dryer. When the washer stopped, I’d put them in the dryer. When the dryer stopped, I’d put the hanging clothes on the rack so they wouldn’t wrinkle. Each family member is responsible for getting their clothes to their rooms. I still do this and it works.
But when my deadlines got tighter and closer together, I felt like I didn’t have time to devote an hour a day to cleaning and there for a while, the house just didn’t get cleaned. About this time, my husband who’d been a bi-vocational pastor was able to quit his job as a dental technician and go full time at the church. This helped tremendously as he started helping more. He does the straightening, dusting, and keeps our son’s bathroom clean while I do the vacuuming, mopping, and our bathroom. Our son is responsible for picking up after himself and for keeping his room neat.
Last fall, we took out all the carpet in our house and replaced it with laminate flooring. Our son has dust mite allergies and was going off his shots, and the doctor said it would help. I thought the wood flooring would be easier to keep clean. Wrong. It gave the dust bunnies nowhere to hide. And since our cat was injured by coyotes over a year ago, he’s in the house most of the time, especially after dark. His long gray fur makes lots of dust bunnies. I’ve had to vacuum twice a week to keep them under control and once again the house was taking too much of my time.
Then my husband got me the perfect anniversary gift that changed my world. He even gave it to me a month early. Though today is our 34th anniversary, a few weeks ago, he got me a roomba vacuum cleaner–the little round robot that goes around vacuuming for you. I have two family members who have it and love it, so I’d wanted one for several years. Now, while I’m writing, I can vacuum too.
I took this picture for fun since I’ve seen so many feet at the beach on Facebook. But normally, while roomba vacuums, I write.
A few days after he gave it to me, my mom stopped by to watch it in action. We watched in amazement as it rounded the perimeter of the room, then zig zagged back and forth across, with a little sweeper brush spinning out a few inches past it to sweep dirt into it’s path. Once it covered the middle, it went under the couch for while, came out, and made tight circles around each leg of the coffee table and both wing back chairs.
“You should name her Alice,” Mama said.
And I did. So now while I write books, Alice vacuums for me. My husband said all we need now is a Rosie to dust. I’d forgotten all about the robot from the Jetsons.
Some people would think Alice isn’t romantic, that anniversaries are all candlelight and roses. To me, Alice is a much more romantic gift. It means he wants to make my life easier and give me more time to pursue my passion. Until Alice, the most romantic gift he’d ever gotten me was a laptop, so I could write where ever I was. Both gifts mean he’s behind me one hundred percent. And to me, that’s the height of romance.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received? Or your favorite gadget that saves you time?