On multitasking, chores and peace in the home

On multitasking, chores and peace in the home

I have long known that either it were not true that women are multitasking queens, or it were not true that I am a woman. I cannot multitask. Every. Single. Time I try to cook breakfast while hanging the washing, the eggs burn. I cannot talk on the phone while I am driving round trying to find a party venue. And I abandon my attempts at writing a coherent blog post after the third request for lunch…

I used to feel strangely substandard due to this inability to do what all women were brilliant at. Which is why I felt elated when I came across research recently that found ‘differences in multitasking costs across men and women remained absent’. Read a summary of that research here:

Psychologist Patricia Hirsch, and her collaborators at RWTH Aachen University and University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany, set out to find out if the stereotype that women are better multitaskers than men might be backed by empirical evidence. To find out, the team had experimental participants (48 women and 48 men) conduct either concurrent or sequential multitasking. Both tasks required participants to categorize letters as consonant versus vowel, and numbers as odd versus even. An important feature of the study was that, in addition to collecting performance measures (accuracy and reaction times) in the tasks above, the researchers also accounted for possible underlying gender differences in working memory, processing speed, spatial abilities, and fluid intelligence.

The results indicated that, whereas both concurrent and sequential multitasking imposed substantial costs on performance, the deterioration applied to both genders equally. Even when controlling for potential differences in cognitive abilities that might support multitasking, “differences in multitasking costs across men and women remained absent.”


This at least redeemed me. I was a normal woman after all! And my experience of overwhelm at times was a perfectly reasonable way for a brain to react to SO MANY DEMANDS. I breathed a sigh of relief and stopped trying to do everything at once.

But of course I still had to do most things. It is still I who cook the breakfast and hang the washing, just not simultaneously. There is ample evidence that women still do more housework than men, no matter who the breadwinner is. Us women aren’t better multitaskers than men, we just do more work. And if you look to the bees and the lions, that seems to be the way it goes in nature.

Public opinion persists that women have a biological edge as super-efficient multitaskers. But, as this study shows, this myth is not supported by evidence. This means the extra family work women perform is just that – extra work. And we need to see it as such.


There is an American blogger who feels like my friend, even though she certainly does not know that I exist. Her name is Emily Lex. I think it was 2017 when she wrote the following:

Washing dishes used to be a point of marital contention and then one day I decided I didn’t hate doing them anymore. I’m slightly particular when it comes to loading the dishwasher (I can’t believe I’m one of those people!) and I have a system for hand washing dishes that makes it quick and mindless (utensils first, medium sized items next, save the worst for last). I’ve found in marriage that if you take the things you care the most about and stop worrying about fairness, things get much easier. And it leaves me with a clean kitchen, so that’s totally worth it.+


Isn’t that a helpful way to look at things? Stop worrying about fairness! Who ever said that things would be fair in this world/ your marriage / that family? If you want a clean, peaceful home, wash the dishes! That is the price. And I think, it is not the fool who pays it.

Have a wonderful August, from our team to yours.

Disclaimer: my home is not always peaceful nor clean, but together we are hacking through the challenges. If you want to accuse me of being too traditional, you might be right. I think I am being pragmatical.

I hope my musings make sense. Love

What does it mean to sanitise?

What does it mean to sanitise?

This week has been the WEEK OF THE SANITISER. We have sold more Hand and Surface SANITISER in this week than ever before. Not only did the volume of sales take us by suprise, but also the urgency of it all. I suspect it has something to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. I suspect people feel safer after they have sprayed their hands. And having a tiny bottle of sanitiser in your hand bag is reassuring, because you can reach for it whenever you feel like it.

The truth is that sanitiser is a single line of defense, and possibly the weakest one at that. We have had questions about whether we have proof that our SANITISE kills COVID-19. I get that people want to know. We are all trying to stay safe. And a consumer has the right to ask questions before buying a product, especially now when home brews of sanitiser crop up here and there. But the repeated questions made me wonder whether the term ‘santise’ is properly understood. No, we do not have proof that our SANITISE kills COVID-19. COVID-19 is a novel strain of coronavirus and neither alcohol nor any sanitiser has been shown to kill it, simply because the studies have not been done. But the real point here is that a sanitising product by defenition does not kill all microorganisms.

Let’s disentangle sterilise, disinfect and sanitise first. These words are used interchangeably but each actually means something very specific.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sterilise means that you have ‘destroyed or eliminated all forms of microbial life (even spores!) and is carried out in health-care facilities by physical or chemical methods.’ This is a process that generally needs time and perhaps even specialised equipment. Disinfect means to ‘eliminate many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores, on inanimate objects.’ (https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/introduction.html ). These two processes are especialy important in hospital settings to prevent the spread of disease.

Sanitise ‘is a chemical process that lessens and even kills germs on surfaces to make them safe for contact’ ( https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-hints-tips/cleaning-organizing/disinfecting-vs-sanitizing.htm ). This is generally what happens in homes when you wipe your counters with bleach. It is not recommended as part of routine cleaning but now and again one wants to sanitise even the home, such as when a member of the family is ill.

Now let us take a closer look at hand sanitisers. They are by definition meant to lessen the amount of bacteria and viruses. Not one sanitiser guarantees to kill all pathogens.

There are important differences between washing hands with soap and water and cleaning them with hand sanitizer. For example, alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t kill ALL types of germs, such as a stomach bug called norovirus, some parasites, and Clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea. Hand sanitizers also may not remove harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and heavy metals like lead. Handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs, pesticides, and metals on hands. Knowing when to clean your hands and which method to use will give you the best chance of preventing sickness.

( https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf )

Take home message?

Sanitiser was never meant to save you. Wash your hands often and vigourously. Use sanitiser to ‘fill in the gaps’ and to clean unwashable surfaces such as your phone.

Washing a floor is a skill. Grab a mop and do it.

I was over eighteen the first time I washed a floor. Can you believe it? I remember early in my first year at TUKS telling my friend Kholofelo I had never washed a floor before. She was flabbergasted. Her reaction made me realise that there was a part of life I had up to then not participated in. The next weekend at home I took a bucket and a mop and washed the kitchen floor. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t terrific. But it resulted in a clean floor and I could say I’d washed a floor. I felt enabled.

The reason I missed out on all those life skills of course is that mine was a traditional South African middle class family of the eighties. We had a sleep in maid most of the time. The maid always washed the floors!

I started late but I’m an expert by now

Well, I am forty now and for most of my adult life I have done the cleaning myself. No-one can count how many times I have washed floors. In fact, I am quite a pro. I can even write a blog about my preferences. 😉

  • I hate traditional mops. They stink. And all they do is slop dirty water around on the floor.
  • I hate dipping my mop into a bucket of dirty water. I cannot imagine dirty water cleaning anything.
  • I dislike wax based detergents that promise to clean and polish your floor at the same time. They cause wax build up that eventually discolours and then your grouting is permanently dirty!

Regular bucket and a bit of clean water. The mop is fabulous: flat swivelhead with a detachable microfiber cloth.

The microfiber cloth is easily and securely tucked into the sides of the swivelhead. Note that the head can ‘fold’ in half when one steps on the little triangle lever on the right.

My soap of choice

My method

My method? I like a broad, flat microfiber mop. I spray our very own FLOOR onto the floor, neat, and wipe it off with the mop. Then I rinse the mop in clean water (normally running water at the bath or whichever tap is closest at the moment) and repeat until the job is done. The next time I go over the floor with water only. This way I know the microbes are on the floor long enough to do their job, and the soap is eventually rinsed off. Not that leaving it on the floor would be a problem, really. FLOOR does not contain anything that could build up.

Sharing chores gets things done but it also creates moments to connect. We often chat while cleaning.

And my kids help. I will not let them turn 18 before washing a floor. Washing floors is as much a part of life as brushing your teeth and I will teach them how to do it. I will resist the notion that certain mundane skills are not important to learn because someone else will do it. Any skill enables. And being able to just ‘get on with it’ is priceless too.

Still, my house is only ever spotless two minutes before guests arrive. Even with help. Please tell me I am not alone?

Till then