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I hate housework — always have. I had a messy bedroom as a child, and being clean and tidy has never come naturally or easily to me. I have had to work really hard to come to the place now where my home is almost always presentable, and rarely embarrassing. But, even though I’ve learned how to keep my house tidy, it’s been a genuinely difficult journey. Over the years I have learned how to do housework; recently, I’ve been learning how to enjoy it.
The Secret to Enjoying Housework
Do as little as possible
I do as little housework as possible. I have a cleaning lady who comes every second Tuesday. Her name is Kelly, and I actually love her. She vacuums and mops all of my floors, cleans the bathrooms, and dusts all the horizontal surfaces. She works fast, does an excellent job, and she is worth every single cent. Having those things done well each fortnight keeps us in front of the curve, and when the call goes out, “Kelly’s coming today!” everyone has to tidy their rooms and put away their stuff from around the house. It gives us a regular reset back to zero.
Put the kids to work
As a mum it is my job to raise successful adults, not to be a slave to them. I remember my oldest child’s pre-school teacher telling us, “Never do for a child what they can do for themselves.” So, from that day I have been a horrible mother. When my kids were able to make a sandwich I stopped making their lunches. When they were able to work the washing machine I stopped doing their laundry. They did show up at school looking like homeless people occasionally, but they survived. I never did their homework or assignments. (I never punished them for their report card either.) Laziness? Maybe sometimes. But now that they are all grown up I have no regrets. They are managing their time, their responsibilities and their belongings like mature adults who have had a bit of practice.
Systems and routines
Because tidiness has never come naturally, I have had to put systems in place that keep me on track. When the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mum, Friday was cleaning day. We had a routine and stuck to it. Wednesday is my errands day now. I do my meal planning and grocery shopping, do my laundry and any other jobs that need doing to keep the household running. If I keep up with it every single week, the pile is manageable and it never gets to the overwhelming stage.
Gratitude and care
You are probably getting the picture — I always do the absolute minimum I can get away with when it comes to household chores, and it’s done kicking and screaming out of complete necessity. So it has come as a surprise that my minimalism journey and reading Marie Kondo's book has been changing my attitude to the few jobs that I have left.
I came across Konmarie and bought the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.” It was all over Pinterest so I thought I’d check it out. Anything that promised to keep my drawers tidy seemed like an idea worth exploring. To be honest, at first I thought she was a bit of a weirdo. Holding onto each item with both hands and asking “Does this spark joy?” is just weird. I loved all the facebook memes of Konmarie converts throwing out toilet brushes and treadmills.
Then came the folding techniques. Again, at face value, they were way over the top. You hold each item of clothing and thank it for it’s service, while lovingly folding it like origami until it stands neatly in a draw. “Thank you sock for keeping my feet warm on Tuesday.” I wondered how many cats this woman has.
Then, one day, I gave it a go. Well, my version anyway…
I folded an entire basket of washing, holding each item, and thanked God for it. I felt the fabric, noticed the pattern, the skill in the stitching and design. I thought about the people who grew the cotton, the people working in factories who turned it into fabric, designers, sewers, truck drivers, the men and women in the shops who unpack the boxes and swipe my card at the check out. Hold a sock. How many people does it take to put that sock in your hands? Then, I carefully followed the diagrams in the book to fold each item and place it carefully in my drawers.
Once the washing was folded, I cooked my family a meal. My sister and her family grow organic vegetables. I have a tiny idea of how much work goes into putting that zucchini in my fridge. Farming is a hard life, and yet I expect a perfect selection of every variety of vegetable to be on my supermarket shelf every day. I cooked that meal and thought about each item, and the people who spend their lives working to supply it to my table. I thanked God for each vegetable, and prayed a blessing over every hand that helped give it to me.
I take so much for granted. I am so spoiled, and I want to change. So, now I notice and recognise the blessings that are lavished all over my life. I take the time to be grateful and thank God for the endless list of things I have: access to clean water, good-quality fresh food, and health care. I’m gradually changing some of the brands that I purchase, making environmentally sustainable and ethical choices. I try to buy local and fresh, because some things are more important than convenience. The choices I make affect others, and our world.
God has filled my life with so many good things, and I don’t want to rush through it. I want to be mindful, grateful, and look after what I have. Housework isn’t so much of a chore anymore.