Sunday, 15 September 2013

Week 38: Doing the Housework to Do the Housework.

Last night my husband, son and I returned home from four days away. It was our second little trip in as many weeks and we've come home happy, exhausted, and with a pile of housework staring us down.

Now, I don't love housework. I don't hate it either, it's just rarely at the top of my list of things to do. But this week, it really needs doing. From the piles of clothes that need washing and folding, to the floors that need to be vacuumed and mopped and the bathrooms that need a good once-over, my house is begging for some attention. So attention it will get ... mindful attention, hopefully.

It's HARD to do housework mindfully, or at least that's my experience. Usually we're so focused on the outcome of what we're doing or on the next task we must complete, that we tidy and clean on autopilot. Becoming a mum has made this even harder. There's a delicate dance that happens when you have kids. If the housework is done while they're sleeping then there's no time for mummy to rest or do something 'for her'. On the other hand, if the housework is done while the children are up, it a) takes longer and b) is harder to give your full attention to. I tend to do both - some housework while my son sleeps, some while he's up. Very different experiences, both with their pleasures and pains.

Anyway, this week, as I stare down and ultimately surrender to the housework that must be done, I'm going to aim to do it mindfully. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us to "wash the dishes to wash the dishes" - taking pleasure in the act itself, not being focused on the end result (clean dishes) or what that means (that you can now sit down and have a cuppa). I'm going to apply this to as many household tasks as I can this week.

Here I go now to hang the washing.

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