Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Housework Epiphany

Wow! Thank you to all of the fabulous comments left on my frugality post. I've already printed them out and am starting more research and fine-tuning my efforts.
You guys are the best!
The best, Jerry! The best!
And now, dear reader, I'd like to take this moment to give you a glimpse into the secret of housework.
Yes, the secret.
I've figured it out, you know. I have seen into the depths of the all-things-you-need-to-know-about-housework and found the secret. Wanna know what it is? Are you sure?
Fine, fine.
It has two parts:
Getting over yourself

Think I'm kidding? The epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday morning as I was, once again, cleaning the house. And it was actually quite simple.
Let me try to explain each part and see if you agree with me (because honestly? I'm sure there are many secrets to housework. I've probably just stumbled across one of 'em).

I'm not talking about having hours a day to clean, although that is always helpful. What I mean is I needed time to finally figure out the most efficient ways to clean. How to clean, if you will. And efficiency equals less time!
It's miraculous, really. Some days I've seen myself clean the entire upper floor (minus the laundry, of course) in less than 2 hours! This included bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, de-cluttering, dishes, sweeping/mopping, windows, etc. Of course, if the kids are helping, it goes even faster (and they usually are --but mostly on "chore day").

I remember my mom was a pro at the cleaning. She was so fast --but amazingly thorough. I didn't understand how she could do it so quickly. Of course, I was still in the learning stages, so the best ways to clean eluded me for a while. But you know what? Efficiency is not just the way to maximize the time, either. The next phase actually has a lot to do with it...

Get Over Yourself:
It's kind of crazy to me to think about how I used to view housework. It was drudgery (well, that hasn't changed much) and it was always there. I would often ignore it until I HAD to do it, and I would feel so guilty the whole time. I would see it as a trial and a pain and I would get so darned frustrated at myself and everyone else around me. I would waffle between the control-freak ("I can't do anything until I can clean the whole house and make everything perfect right now! And everyone needs to make it perfect with me right now!") and the Apathetic-Depressed-Woman ("It's not worth it, who cares, nobody will help me, I won't finish anything I start, anyway -so why bother?"). Both of those equalled the same thing: Resentment and frustration.
And then I started therapy.
Sure, it was for other areas of my life, but it was amazing how most facets of my life meshed into the others. Like this housework business.
Therapy taught me that I don't have to control everything. It also taught me that I could give myself permission to do a little at a time. I learned how to figure out what was really bothering me, rather than giving up in despair. I figured out how to get over myself long enough to see the good parts in everything I do.
Even the dishes.
See, dishes have to get done. They can get done with a bad attitude and anger, or they can get done efficiently and happily. I can clean the house with resentment, or I can view it as service for my family. I can do the laundry with frustration, or I can be grateful for a freakin' washing machine! (although I'm tempted to start line-drying my clothes. Isn't that crazy?!)

We already knew this, though. The whole service with a smile bit. I mean, it's not like we've been taught this for years and years and years...
Who knew it was actually true!?

You know, I wrote a post a long time ago about my role as a mother (it was nearly 3 years ago), and it applies so well. Here's most of it:
This morning, I forced myself off the couch (where I had been for a couple of hours after #3’s early morning risings) and started to get ready for church. Up until that point, everything had been kind of crazy, and the house showed it. Once I was dressed for church, I got the kids involved in picking up the living room and kitchen, and within 20 minutes, the entire place was organized and presentable again. I helped the kids get dressed and cleaned up, Hubby came home from his meeting in surprise (the house was clean?! On a Sunday?!), and I turned on “Music and the Spoken Word” to keep a calm mood.
As I was cleaning up the kitchen, feeling somewhat resentful that I didn’t have more time to sleep, nor more time to lounge about in my pregnant state, nor children that were old enough to just get themselves cleaned up and ready, I was stopped short with a lightening bolt of realization.
I heard in my mind all of these thoughts; they were in and around each other, and one led to another, but I’ll write them the best that I can:
“Cheryl, you are a mother. You cannot rely on other adults anymore –you are the parent. These children, and yes, even your husband, need to be able to rely on you. There is no room for selfishness anymore. Do not mourn for the loss of your ‘you’ time, because what you are doing as a responsible adult and as a mother is far more important. Be grateful that they need you. Be happy that they love you. Take care of them and do what you need to do to make sure that you can fulfill your responsibility. It’s the most important thing you can do, you know.”

Yeah, yeah, I know it's a bit sentimental (and almost too selfless), but it was real! And for some reason, I had forgotten about that.
Until yesterday, when the housecleaning lightning bolts hit me in the same manner: Just do it, and get over yourself, Cheryl. It needs to be done, and why make it harder than it needs to be?
Why, indeed?

Have you had any lightening bolts and epiphanies lately regarding...well...anything? Motherhood? Housework? Jobs? Relationships? And aren't they the BEST? I love inspiration...


C Mommy said...

Love, Love, Love your post today... definitely some things that are good for me to read! Thanks for your insight!

Julie said...

Great points, all!

Emily & Co. said...

I've had several similar epiphanies this year...must be a result of adding #4 to our family almost a year ago. It seems like w/each child I understand more deeply my role as a mom and a wife. I don't enjoy cleaning either, but I've lowered the bar and I set a timer and whatever gets done gets done. And even if it's not "perfect" it looks better than it did. I also totally agree w/your post that you quoted...I've had that same epiphany. No matter how tired I am, I have 4 children and a husband who need me...that's a huge responsibility - there truly is no more room for selfishness. My biggest epiphany lately has been the importance of carving out time for quiet contemplation every day. It has really changed my life the last few months. I have to go to bed earlier than I would like to, so that I can get up before everyone. The house is so quiet. I pull out my scriptures, I can take as long as I want to prayer w/o being rushed, then I think about each of my kids and my husband to see if there is something I need to be doing for's amazing how much personal inspiration we can be blessed with when we open the door to it.

Susan M said...

I had a housework epiphany too, a few years ago. It was this: It really only takes a few minutes to get that chore done, so just go do it.