Like many contemporary parents, I grew up in a traditional household with a domestically dutiful stay-at-home mother. But, I was not like my mother. I was not interested in being a stay-at-home Mom. I did share some of my mother’s old fashioned values and dreams such as marriage and kids. However, rather than realize the housewife within, I hit the working world by storm, without a dust mop in sight.

A few years later, I gleefully walked down the marriage aisle— and the early warning signs of an unexpected role as a housewife emerged. This included going on weekly trips to the laundromat and sitting on toilet seats left up by you know who. Without breaking a sweat or a nail, I took it in stride and proceeded to my next traditional dream of having a baby.

Then clouds began to gather and my dreams took on a new twist.

In short, love, marriage and my son were like being in the perfect storm­— not a romantic shower. Before my son was born, I found that marriage was pretty much the same as being single— except you become the proud owner of a new ring or two to show off. But, when my son came along, I found myself juggling my career, home and family. Suddenly my life was put on hold, and my jewelry was tucked away so I could deal with a world of dirt, dust and diapers. It was then I realized I’d become The Accidental Housewife.

After the shock wore off from this realization, I decided to embrace my housewifely loathing, fears and imperfections and come out of the “broom closet.” The old fashioned part of me wanted to care for my family and my home, though I didn’t want it to rule my life.

I went on a crusade to determine how to tackle the mundane and very real aspects of my accidental housewifely life. Simple shortcuts allowed me to smile and make time for my family and my manicure. It’s what I’ve come to refer to as real life re-simplified: Blending cleaning, doing laundry, organizing, meal planning and all else into daily routines whenever possible, and using nontraditional products and home resources to accomplish housewifely tasks.

My first step was to tap into a handy and willing home tool— my son! Once I saw he was able to navigate his way with a remote control, I thought why not with the microwave? This turned out to be a stroke of genius as it got my son into the kitchen and me out. I then dealt with my other household chores, and I found tons of fun and fast home keeping tricks, some of which follow.

Fizz, Brush and Flush

For toilet cleanup that’s a cinch to tackle, drop two Alka Seltzer or denture tablets into your toilet bowl. Let the bowl fizz for at least 20 minutes. Then brush with a disposable toilet brush tool and flush the toilet along with the flush-able pad.

Toast the Virtues of Vinegar and Vodka

Vinegar is one of those all-purpose products that no accidental housewife should ever be without. It removes fruit stains on your hands, shines counter tops, kills bacteria on cutting boards, erases soap scum, cures hiccups and highlights brown locks— not to mention has many tasty virtues! Vodka is another unexpected gem. It is a facial fixer, sore throat Rx, eyeglasses cleanser, bandage remover, jewelry sparkler— just not for pearls— and flower freshener.

Conquer Little Battles

Use standard household items like shampoo, hand sanitizers, toothpaste, potatoes, hair spray, shaving cream and white wine to get out common stains such as from grass, mud and ink.

  • Grass: Dab grass stains with a cloth soaked in vodka, or apply toothpaste, rub and rinse thoroughly.
  • Mud: Use a spud to get out the mud.
  • Ink: Saturate ink stains with aerosol hair spray and blot with a sponge or paper towels. Keep rinsing out the sponge or using fresh paper towels. Rinse thoroughly.

Put a New Spin on Your Washing Machine

No one ever said the washing machine was just for laundry! Why not fill the washing machine with ice and use it as a cooler for your next soiree? Fill with single serving drinks (leaving no glasses to clean), and when the party’s over let the ice melt and put on the rinse cycle to drain. That’s my kind of wash!

Now wiser and more relaxed than during my pre-marital days, I have come to realize that housekeeping doesn’t have to be a dirty word— so long as you keep it in perspective and allow yourself some slack. I’m not perfect, nor do I want to be (sorry, Mom). I want to enjoy both my personal and family life, as well as help fellow accidental housewives maintain their homes, sanity and manicures. And, in the process, I hope together we can inspire others to come out of the broom closets and smile through daily tasks during what I lovingly refer to as life on Hysteria Lane.

In the meantime ladies, let’s spread the glove and try to recapture some of our pre-accidental housewifely hopes and dreams. Treat yourself to a pair of fashionable rubber gloves instead of those yellow ones in aisle six. Then put them on, grab your favorite libation and toast your housewifely imperfections. Imperfection is our new perfection. And, we my friends are the real faces of today’s housewife— The Accidental Housewife!

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