Domestic chores: The beauty in the duty

- February 8, 2009 2 MIN READ

As soloists, we spend our lives juggling balls and wearing lots of hats. Then there’s the minutiae of everyday life that won’t go away – domestic chores.

Inevitably, home-based soloists have a higher than average expectation-slash-temptation to do a bit of tidying up. Undone dishes, unwashed clothes and the other domestic chores are harder to ignore when you work from home.

In our house, Amy’s dad does most of the baby care, but I find the chores of shopping, cleaning, making beds, doing washing and deciding what to eat fall in my lap.

John-Paul probably would do these domestic chores, but my impatience and low tolerance of mess means he doesn’t get a chance.

Once upon a time, these jobs seemed to fit quite nicely around my work. When I became a mother, the presence of these chores loomed larger and I started developing an uneasy relationship with them.

The two things I’ve found hardest to cope with are firstly, the guilt “I should be doing some proper work.” And secondly, I’m ashamed to admit, a sense that “I’m better than this.”

Menial business tasks can evoke the same feelings. And they are not nice feelings, but I faced up to them. I came up with some options to help my choreophobia:

Outsource the more tedious domestic chores 

No chance – I’m too mean.

Lower your standards

I have done this to a degree, for example, I very rarely iron anything anymore. But I am uncomfortable being too slovenly. For example, a sticky kitchen floor is way more irritating to me than the chore of mopping.

Find some meaning within the work

Trying to deny their existence didn’t work. Doing them half cocked didn’t work. If I was going to counterattack the “I’m better than this” credo, I needed to recognise that housework isn’t glamorous, but it is important.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quite at the domestic goddess/flowers in the bathroom stage, nor will I ever be. But nowadays I do try and find satisfaction in the work by appreciating the effort these kinds of jobs require and not taking the results for granted.

Also, I try to engage in the domestic chores, rather than switching off.

As a result, I’ve lost the sense of superiority, thankfully. I have not succeeded, though, in turning off the guilt about not doing ‘proper’ work. If anyone has any tips on conquering this, I’d be happy to hear them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some washing to hang out.