Confessions of a Former Housework Hater
- Monday, March 12, 2012
There seem to be two camps of homeschoolers. One camp contains the former Martha Stewart clones who have had to relax their housekeeping standards in order to make time to effectively homeschool. These ladies need encouragement so they can enjoy reading with their child without stressing about the dust in the corners. The other camp holds the moms who are desperately trying to figure out how to keep the house habitable with most of the family at home the majority of the time. This article is written for those moms in the second camp.
For as long as I can remember, I have disliked housework. I know there are some people who delight in keeping their living space clean, but I was not blessed with this drive. From the time we were old enough to hold a broom, my brothers, my sister, and I were expected to help keep the house neat. Saturday morning chore time was dreaded every week. Even Dad's rewarding our efforts by taking us out for hamburgers did not lessen my distaste for the work.
What did I dislike so much about cleaning? Perhaps I found it boring and mundane. There's not much exciting about performing the same chores over and over. Cleaning felt like testing the second law of thermodynamics and discovering that things really do change from order to disorder. The same bathroom I had just spent 30 minutes cleaning would inevitably need to be cleaned again the next week.
Maybe I disliked the loneliness of housework. Most chores are done without company, which contributes to the boredom and mundaneness of the tasks. Housework is also one of the least glamorous ways to invest time. Most people will not notice the cleaning efforts unless they are neglected. Many activities, from craft projects to work outside the home, bring praise from others—making them much more satisfying than sweeping the floors. Did I consider housework beneath me? Women are told by the feminists that they should be conquering Wall Street rather than trying to conquer the dust bunnies under the bed. The feminists consider housework to be drudgery and a poor use of a woman's gifts.
Perhaps I had fallen into the trap of separating the secular and the sacred. Praying, Bible study, and ministry had eternal worth, but keeping my closet clean, I mistakenly thought, was unimportant in view of eternity. Whatever the reason for my dislike of housework, God has changed my heart, and I now work to maintain my home with joy.
Other than for obvious sanitation reasons, why is housework important? For one, God is a God of order, and our duty as Christians is to display God's attributes to the world. God's order is evident throughout His creation, and the Bible tells us that God is not the author of confusion (I Cor 14:33). The Bible also admonishes us to let everything be done decently and with order (I Cor 14:40). I think this resonates in the spirits of mankind, resulting in an innate desire for things to be neat and tidy. I have watched young children playing, and they tend to avoid a mess. Youngsters ignore the disorganized pile of toys lying on the floor and get out something new to play with. Children and adults alike tend to get stressed by a mess. Relaxation and enjoyment of surroundings is much easier when things are orderly.
But other than trying to be like God, I also need to keep my house neat to train my children to organize their environments. My heart goes out to adults who were never taught how to keep house. As much as I disliked Saturday morning chores, I'm grateful my parents taught me how to work. I need to set the example so my children will have the desire and the ability to glorify God through their own homes one day.
So how did I become a former housework hater? For one, I ran out of excuses. In my young adult life I always justified my lack of housekeeping because I was busy with school or my career. But when I became a full-time housewife, those excuses disappeared. I was also challenged by the examples of housewives from yesteryear. I would read about them in old books or see them in old movies.
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