Thursday, July 14, 2011

The never-ending housework

I believe the thing about housework that makes many wives so stressed out over it, is the fact that it never ends. The same things must be done over and over again, such as:

* Dishes to be washed
* Laundry to be washed, hung up, sorted, folded and put away
* Ironing for items that need it
* Floors to be swept and mopped
* Dusting shelves and other surfaces
* Meal planning and shopping (better in this order than the other way around)
* Food to be cooked and meals to be served
* Garden upkeep, if you have a garden
* Taking care of your animals, if you have any
* Making up the beds and changing the bedding

And of course, in addition to these and other tasks which must be done daily or weekly, there are countless other missions, seasonal or annual, such as re-arranging the closets and pantry shelves, getting rid of clutter, major planting or harvesting done in the garden, etc.

If you’ve ever woken up to the thoughts of everything that must be done and felt overwhelmed, I’m with you. That’s the main difference between office work and housework: in your home, you can never be really “done”. You can’t even walk away from the things that aren’t undone, because your home is also your working space (and your living room table, perhaps, serves for dinnertime, school, sewing, ironing and your husband’s computer business).

So what can we do? We can fret over everything that hasn’t been accomplished yet and turn our life into a pressure cooker, or we can ease up a little, slow down, and do what must be done with a smile, not forgetting to seize the moment for small joys of life – a particularly fine morning on which we choose to head out to a picnic at the park, delicious meals served at a table which perhaps still has computer parts piled at its end, and evenings of relaxing in the garden while sharing ice-cold watermelon for a summer dessert.

And accept the fact that neither today, nor tomorrow, nor next year there will be a moment when we are “done” with housework.

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, I’m not saying all this as an elaborate excuse to do nothing. Orderliness and cleanliness are the cornerstones of a peaceful home, and I’m all for scheduling and planning, cooking and baking, cleaning and scrubbing and getting to all those nooks and crannies once in a while – only it isn’t really possible to have it all together in one day, and even if it is, some things might be more important. Better split a large project in several days than become impatient and brush your whole family aside.

There are of course also those things where your work can be simplified and/or reduced, especially during the busier periods of your life. For example, since Tehilla was born, I haven’t done much ironing. I also deliberately choose to buy clothes which do not require ironing. In your garden, you can choose plants which are easier to care for; meals can be a simple affair. Around here, during the week I usually serve simple one-course meals such as soup, crustless quiche or pasta, or bread and an array of cold salads on those days which are so hot that you can hardly bear to cook.

I wish everyone happy housekeeping and a wonderful weekend!


Mrs. T


Jo said...

I learnt a long time ago that if I didn't dust or vacuum for one day the world didn't fall apart and it would still be there to do another day. Don't fret over things and women would feel much better. Our lives should not only be housework, we also need to live and enjoy life. Sit in the garden, read a book, bake a cake just for fun, have an afternoon sleep, doing something silly, take the children on a picnic, go to the zoo etc.... It's ok as the housework will still be there but at least you had a good time/happy time. We don't want to be remembered for keeping a clear and spotless house but doing live life. Or just have a lazy day and do nothing. This will recharge the batteries and you will feel more energized the next day.

Andrea said...

This is exactly what is frustrating me this summer. And when (in the past) I had young children, out of necessity, I adjusted and let things go a bit, so as to tend to my babies or toddlers. But, now that they are grown, and I don't have grandchildren yet, I am having a hard time....I am constantly doing housework and cooking and I need to let some things go. Thank you for posting this subject. love,andrea

Katy M. said...

Could you please share some of your soup and salad recipes? I live in Texas and cold salad sounds very good this time of year! :)

angela said...

I love this post. There is always something to do that's why we are needed here in the home all the time. I always enjoy you thoughts!!!

Lisa said...

As a mom who doesn't work outside the home and has no family nearby, we hired a cleaning lady to do the real deep cleaning every other week. She is a lifesaver! I have more time to tend to other things. Its okay to have a bit of luxury to keep a person sane. All the best!

Janine said...

Wonderful post! That's why they call it the "art" of homemaking. Knowing when to knuckle down and get those dust bunnies, and when to play is an art form. And we won't ever be 'done' learning that either. I'm learning much about enjoying my tasks, and taking pride in a well-managed home. Thanks Anna for sharing this~ I too would like to know more about your summer meals.

Jean said...

I wish I could do all those things and just have to worry about being overwhelmed by them. In my relationship, family and social circle I'm expected to do all those things while still have a demanding full-time career. I wish it was acceptable for me not to work outside the home. If I did that, my partner, my parents and my friends would think I'm lazy. I love sewing, and baking and taking care of things around the house, which is why I love your blog but very often I get jealous while reading it.

Anonymous said...

There are always projects that we do not have time to do but really want to get done. I have found that if I take just the 10 minutes to start it then 10 the next day to do more, it will get done evidentially. I am talking about the things that do not need done weekly. Like the bushes being cut back in the yard. The kind of things that take time and seem overwhelming at times to find the time to get at them. It feels good to even have part of it done. I love the comment by the first person. Like Lady Lydia says, women do need time to relax and read and enjoy the children etc. I learned what my husband thought the most important things to be done for the home were. Sometime the things you feel Have to be done daily are not that important to him and so frees you to have a bit of leave way. I love your recipes Anna! Sarah