What I Think About While I’m Cleaning My House

Because I’m sure you’re all dying to know…

But really, people should talk about that kind of thing more, because when I moved out on my own, learning to “keep house” was a bit of an adjustment. My parents taught me to work and I had to do my fair share of chores around the house, but I never had to run the place. My mom was so good at it that she made it look effortless, but when I had to do it on my own, suddenly it wasn’t so effortless anymore.

It was lots of work, and not all of it was very enjoyable. I have to admit that in the beginning, I used the approach of “Let it all go for a week, and then have one massive, intense, dreaded cleaning session on Saturday.”

There are two problems with that: Things can get really messy in a week, and a messy house makes me really grumpy.

I had to clean to stay sane, but I didn’t like to do it. But there was one particular Saturday when everything changed for me…

I was dusting my house one morning when I got a phone call from a friend. She asked what I was doing, so I said I was housecleaning, and she said, “I hate housecleaning, so I’ve decided not to do it anymore. Then I’ll have more time for my hobbies and the things I actually enjoy doing.”

I thought about that a lot that day. And I remember, very clearly, that I came to a decision as I was wiping my window sills. I thought to myself, “If I have to choose between cleaning or hobbies, I would have to choose cleaning. I cannot stand to live in a dirty house. Does that mean that I can never have hobbies?” And I had a moment of inspiration: Cleaning would be my hobby! I would do it till I liked it.

And after that, something changed. Every time I chose to clean, I recognized that I was choosing to do that over something that I enjoyed doing, so that I could have the pleasure of living in a clean house.

I was focusing on the end result rather than on the housework itself, and that is what motivated me. I stopped attaching emotions to the things that I needed to do. Who sits around complaining about how much they hate brushing their teeth? You just do it without attaching emotion.

Since then, I have obviously discovered that there is time for enjoyable activities as well as housework, but I think that what I decided that day still affects my attitude. I don’t allow myself to think, “I don’t like washing dishes,” or “I hate folding laundry,” because I have to do it whether I like it or not. So while I’m doing those things, I think about how much I will enjoy my clean kitchen and my neatly folded laundry.

When I was a little girl, my parents gave me a poster that said, “Lord, help me to do with a smile those things that I have to do anyway.”

I did not appreciate the truth of that back then, but I really like it now.

Today is laundry folding day, and I’m actually looking forward to it – all of my favorite clothes are sitting in a laundry basket, and I can’t wait to have them all neatly folded and put away.

This makes me sound like an extremely positive, upbeat person. I’m not, really. But I’m working on it!

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4 thoughts on “What I Think About While I’m Cleaning My House

  1. hmmmm, this is helpful to me kendra, thank you! i have to do all sorts of things here I wouldn’t necessarily choose to do voluntarily (even though I did :)). A lot of those are ok and I don’t get emotional about them, but whenever I have to clean the bathrooms, that does me in. I’ve been asking over and over again what it is I am meant to learn in cleaning toilets, how in the world does it add to my life, and who I am? I am still searching for those answers. I have thought it is a good exercise in learning to love myself for who I am, not necessarily because of what I can do. And I’ve also been pushed to remember that my cleaning toilets helps make other people’s lives comfortable and so in that sense what I do is also very important and of great value, even if not always recognized in the wider world as such. hmmmm, i like your idea of focusing on thee end result and removing emotion from the task, I can see that being very helpful- I will try it out 🙂

  2. Pingback: Thanks to You « Kendra's Blog

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