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!