Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Housework is good for the soul

Mindless, boring, repetitive, unrewarding, that's the lot of 'women's work'.

Well, mindless is as mindless does; it's what you make of it. It's the mindless part of housework that is it's greatest strength. It gives you time and clear space to think, to reflect, to plan, and all the other important components of a balanced and fulfilled existence that get shoved aside amid the pressures of life in the 21st century.

Boring? We're not children are we? Moaning 'I'm bored' and lacking self-motivation, needing others to give us stimulation throughout the day?

Repetitive? Yes, it's repetitive, but less so than most 9 to 5 jobs in my experience. Life is based on repetition, the cycle of the days, the weeks, the months, the seasons, our summer holidays, Christmas, birthdays, and so many pleasurable events that mark our passage through this world. And it's 'never done' but few things are in life.

Unrewarding? Only in the sense that it won't bring monetary reward, unlike that 9 to 5 job you would give up tomorrow if only you had the money. It's sad that so many people these days are only able to ascribe value in financial terms, the products of the Thatcher years where greed was all. But it has other rewards; the opportunity to bring order where there would otherwise be chaos; and to provide an environment where family life is nurtured rather than fragmented. Most major religions set great store by the willing undertaking of humble tasks without remuneration, and they are right to do so.

Women's work. That's the one, isn't it? Men don't want to do it because they think it undermines their masculinity. Women don't want to do it because it was women's work for previous generations, that is 'unliberated' women's work.

But it's there, and it needs to be done; it won't do itself. Do it willingly, and think yourself lucky that you have the opportunity to do so. And think about all those other things that your soul needs more than a healthy bank balance.


monix said...

I'm almost converted by this post. I have always enjoyed some household tasks, especially ironing, cleaning windows and washing up but I still think of tidying and dusting as chores. I once saw a film of a hermit who made the washing of his cup, plate and knife an hour long meditation; I could see the beauty and value of 'being present' to each small activity in the day but I have a long way to go towards that goal.

Stephen said...

I feel I've failed then, Maureen. Particularly when you enjoy ironing, which is very much a love it or hate it thing; most people hate it.