In My Kitchen, In My Life is a place where women (and the odd male) can be encouraged, nudged, and occasionally kicked in the pants toward living their lives on a higher plane. Oh, and readers get plenty of chances to laugh at the author's foibles, which is always worth a click.
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Cerebral Homemaking Part 5 – Time Matters
All this thinking about thinking about our work as homemakers may have left you thinking: well that’s great, Lori, to decide that I need to improve my job skills and develop a vision for my home and set my aim higher than the level of my goal, but the thing is, I have a life and I just don’t have time to keep a clean and orderly house.
My answer, Darling Person, is that we don’t have time not to.
If I really want to save time and have a life, I don’t have time to not care for my home.
Think of the amount of frustration, aggravation, and unpleasantness you feel when things get out of control and you put things off (but they keep nagging at you) and you try to get somebody else to do the work (and they resent that) and you tell yourself you don’t care (but you do) and the job gets bigger and bigger and harder and harder and you are running away from it (but you can’t really get away because you live here!). Think of the time you waste not caring for your home. I feel stressed just writing about it, because I have lived it too many times. Thankfully, I knew there was another way, because I grew up with a good example (Hi, Mom), but I know people who don’t even realize another way of being is possible.
The first step, as you may have guessed, is to change our thinking about homemaking time:
1. If I want to have a life and save time, I don’t have time to not care for my home.
2. Caring for my home takes less time if I do things promptly and regularly.
3. Most jobs take less time than I think.
4. My life is more pleasant if I learn to think of the time I spend on homekeeping as pleasant.
Here is the big secret to my changed thinking about homemaking time: I only truly embraced the truthof the first two thoughts after I discovered the third and the fourth, and I only discovered the third and the fourth thoughts after I accepted and lived the first two on faith for awhile.
New Thought #2: Caring for my home takes less time if I do things promptly and regularly. Undone work multiplies exponentially. I suppose not every job gets harder the longer it goes undone, but most of the weekly or daily ones do. The biggies in my house involve dishes, laundry, and bathroom cleaning. It is vital to do these jobs promptly and regularly. It is just as vital to embrace thinking of these as jobs that must be done promptly and regularly:
Promptly – The work just goes so much faster because the dishes aren’t crusty with dried-on food, the laundry folds more easily when it is warm from the sun or dryer (Why is that? I wish somebody would explain that to me scientifically, but it is true – try it and see.), and the spill comes up with one swipe because nobody walked through it and tracked it all over.
Regularly – It is easy to manage three or four loads of laundry in a day, but it is misery to be faced with ten. Which is more likely to be completed serenely? It is easy to do a quick disinfectant wipe-down of the bathroom every morning, but is misery to clean one neglected for a few weeks and impossible to clean one neglected for years. It only takes a few minutes to restore order to the kitchen after one meal (especially if the cook practices “clean as you go” during meal prep), but it can take hours if we put it off until every counter is full and nobody can fit a glass under the faucet to get a drink of water.
New Thought #3: Most jobs take less time than I think. This one was life-changing for me. Quick! Name the regular homemaking jobs you tend to avoid. Making the bed? Changing the sheets? Cleaning the tub? Folding a load of laundry? Unloading the dishwasher or putting away the dry dishes? Will you believe me if I tell you that all of those jobs take under ten minutes each? It’s true! Isn’t that exciting? Ten minutes! Actually, a few of them take less than five. Of course, some of them are only quick if they are done regularly and promptly, or if work related to them is done. For example, you can’t unload the dishwasher quickly if your cupboards are so full of junk that you can’t easily put away the dishes; likewise if the counters are so full or crumby/sticky that you can’t set anything down as you work. You can’t clean the tub quickly if you can’t remember the last time you did it. Regularly and promptly = easy and fast.
New Thought #4: My life is more pleasant if I learn to think of the time I spend on homekeeping as pleasant. Household cleaning and organizing is never going to be my favorite way to spend my time, but with some effort over the years I have taught myself not to mind most jobs nearly as much as I used to. (Realizing how little time many of them take was a big boost!) I guess this may be different for everyone, but I have learned to take time to enjoy the sensations of doing my work, both the process and the result. While I am working, I try to be aware of and take pleasure in using my muscles or my mind to do something productive that blesses my family and myself. As I finish a job, I inhale the clean smells, I run my hand over the smooth quilt on the bed, I listen to the sound of the quietly swishing dishwasher or washing machine, and I enjoy the sight of an orderly space. That is the pay-off I have taught myself to find pleasurable, and frankly it is very helpful to remember when I am having to talk myself into getting started on a particular job.
Putting My Thinking Into Practice:
1. Time yourself performing some common household jobs. Don’t race through it – just work at an upbeat and steady pace. Share in the comments how long it takes you to:
Put away clean dishes: _________
Put away _____ loads of folded laundry: _________
Change the linens on a bed: __________
Clean a bathroom: ________
2. Pick a job you normally dislike. Try to do it mindfully. Work to have a good attitude about it and look for what is pleasant about doing it or completing it. For me, honestly the best thing about many household jobs is how quickly I can finish them! Share your results here.
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