Friday, June 05, 2009

Joys of Cleaning

A shining kitchen floor, recently scrubbed by hand; a sparkling bathroom sink; a dusted and straightened room; these sights give me a sense of joy and accomplishment. Strange? I know... I've been told that before. You mean that I actually enjoy cleaning? Yes, for the most part, I do!

We have been conditioned as a society to think of housework as boring drudgery. It is something to be despised, but it must be done regardless. It is mindless work, we are told, that anyone can do. If we are a homemaker it may fall to us as our task, but to actually find delight in it? How absurd!

Mary Pride's excellent book, The Way Home, talks about this:
"Feminists think that housework, symbolized by dishwashing, is demeaning for a talented woman. I prefer to think of it as art. Is a sinkful of dirty dishes, after all, more beautiful than a cupboard full of clean ones? Because of our modern revolt against housework, doormats and aprons featuring the slogan 'Dull Woman Have Spotless Homes' have become popular. But are clean floors a proof of dullness, or of someone's desire to not be overcome bu tht ugliness of her personal environment?"

I have been told many times that I shouldn't be cleaning so much at my age. After all, now is the time that I have to learn; now is the time that I have to fill my mind with things that I'll be able to think about when I'm having to do yet another load of never-ending laundry. I agree; now is a wonderful time for me to learn, when I don't have a house that I am the sole caretaker of and I don't have young children that require time and energy to care for. I am definitely seizing this wonderful opportunity to continue my education, but doing housework is also a nice break from studying or doing other work.

In addition, I disagree with the assumption that housework is mindless work that requires no skill or training. No, it isn't very hard to learn how to sweep a floor or scrub a shower. These skills don't require hours of practice to remember. However, the repetitiousness of doing the task does help you perfect it and make it more efficient. And although the tasks don't take too much thinking about them in order to do them well, I find that doing housework gives me some of the best opportunities to think and pray. While my hands and feet are busy, my mind is engaged, pondering things I have read, composing things I want to write, or praying for people that God lays on my heart.

Like it or not, housework does need to be done. If it needs to be done, why not decide to like it? As with everything else, it is a choice. We can choose to do it with joy, or we can choose to hate it and just do it merely to get by.

How many times do you hear people talk about their least favorite chore? Mm hmm, well how many times do you hear them talk about their favorite chore? Or do they even have one? As humans, our tendencies are to complain and find empathy in others who share the same dislikes. Yet, what if instead of complaining, we chose to praise God for the opportunities He's given us to care for a home?

Once as part of a fun game at a lady's tea, we were asked to write down our least favorite chore. That question took me the longest time to answer. I admit, scrubbing the toilet isn't exactly the most fun thing in the world. However, I don't hate it! Dishes? I enjoy spending time at the end of a long day contemplating life while making dirty dishes clean . Sweeping or vacuuming? It's such a pleasure to see a dirty floor transformed into something neat, even if it only lasts a few minutes. Laundry? The clothes may not be pleasant when you put them in to wash, but they're so soft and warm when you take them out of the dryer, and so fresh-smelling when you take them off of the line. To make a cloudy mirror streak-free is a great pleasure. To cook up a savory dish is a delight as you fill the house with mouth-watering scents. Even the ache of your muscles after scrubbing the floor is rewarding, for it means that you worked hard and made a floor nice and bright. Shaking rugs may be one of my least favorite things to do, for the dirt has a tendency to fly onto me. However, even that is a great way to get some energy out or relieve stress on a busy day! =)

I've been told that my views will change when I have a home of my own and am required to do all of the work to make it run. Day in and day out, I'm sure it can get monotonous. I admit, I don't always enjoy every minute of housework. It is a choice, to choose joy instead of drudgery.

While I enjoy helping to care for my parent's home, I am eagerly looking forward to one day having a home of my own, if the Lord wills. I shall enjoy arranging everything just so and setting up a schedule to keep it clean. I shall enjoy the responsibility of being the one to manage the housework. My house will be far from perfect in its presentation on some days, especially when there are children who take things out far more quickly than they put things away, but I am still looking forward to even that. It shall be a joy to train my own little ones to help with the work and care for the things God has entrusted us with.

Yes, sometimes I can be somewhat idealistic - it won't all be easy. Other times, I get down and have to be reminded of my own admonitions to choose joy over drudgery. But if we are called to be homemakers, why not enjoy it? We can glorify God as we clean a home with a cheerful and loving heart, ministering to those who are closest to us, our families.

Related posts if you need added encouragement:


justagirl4god said...

:) Beautiful are the hands and feet that bring the good news of Christ. In my opinion, that is what we do when we serve our family (and others!) by presenting to them a home which is clean and tidy. In the same way as we would want to have a nice house if Jesus walked through that front door, so we should aim to have a clean house for those we love...



Nella Camille said...

This really made me re-think the time I'll spend doing chores tomorrow. I must admit, I enjoy cleaning up a littered parking lot than I do cleaning a house. I'd much rather be outside. But this is a reminder that "chore time" is 10% effort and 90% attitude! Thanks, Anna!

Lana said...

lol. You ARE A good girl. I like physical tasks - but I'm not detailed.

Miss Rose Virginia said...

I know exactly what you mean! I polished all the wood furniture this morning, and, even though it took forever and my arms are sore, our tables and chairs look beautiful! I just love admiring the beautiful shine of something I've just cleaned, especially when it's something that hasn't been cleaned in months or years! It may take me a while to get started, but once I do, I find pleasure in the work as well as the finished product.

God bless,
Miss Rose Virginia

Kelsey Anne Hoppman said...

I agree. Wonderful post!
God Bless,

LeneJ said...

Thanks to you, I think I'll clean my apartment thoroughly when I get home from school today! :P I thought I was strange for enjoying ironing clothes, but thank God I see I'm not the only one!!

One comment in here read: "But this is a reminder that "chore time" is 10% effort and 90% attitude!" I can only say AMEN to that!!!

At the age of 20 I moved for myself last September: all the housework was on me. Cleaning, laundy, doing the dishes.... Some weeks have been "Clean Weeks" while others...not so clean. I think I'll print this post when I get home, to keep for inspiration ;-) And may I recommend to you "Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Housekeeping"?

Allison said...

Anna . . . you are absolutely right!! At a few rare and happy moments in my life I HAVE thoroughly enjoyed housecleaning. But -- uh -- those are rare. Right now I have to clean my room because we're having unexpected company tomorrow evening. I have been thinking, "Oh, great, I have to clean my room. I really don't want to, but . . . I guess . . . I have to," but now God has graciously directed me to your post and I feel extremely encouraged! I'm going to work hard today and tomorrow and, hopefully, get it done! Thank you. How does it feel to know God used you to inspire someone else?


P.S. Nella Camille, that is SUCH a good saying! Did you make that up or read it somewhere . . . that is SO TRUE!!! 10% effort and 90% attitude . . . wow!! Right!! I'll try to remember that. Thanks!!

Anna Naomi said...

It has been a blessing to hear from you all! Nella, the reminder that it is 10% effort and 90% attitude is great for us all!

Allison: I am glad that God directed you to this post right when you need it! It is humbling to see how God can use what I write to bless others. Our God is so amazing!

Robert said...

The Way Home sounds like a good book.I saw that Mary Pride wrote a sequel called All The Way Home(1989) and was an early supporter of homeschooling.

You can also turn cleaning into a game.I bought a book at a library sale called All-of-a-kind-Family by Sydney Taylor.The mother was having trouble getting her daughters to dust so she hid buttons in the front room.To keep them interested she varied when and how many buttons were put out.

What people don't always say is that many outside jobs can be dull or not enjoyable.And there is satisfaction with cleaning and keeping up your own home.