On hating housework (and what to do about it)

Via Writing Our Way Home
on Oct 11, 2011
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 Nature abhors a vacuum. And so do I.
~Anne Gibbons

Housework has never been my strong point. I don’t seem to notice the dirt. I have no patience for it. And I don’t think I have the necessary skills.

When it was time to move out of my last rented place, I gave myself a week to give it a deep clean.

On Monday morning, I stood and looked. Cobwebs. Marks on the walls. Dusty skirting boards. Inside-drawers-dirt. Underneath-sofa-cushion-fluff. Overwhelming feelings of overwhelm.

For a while I stamped my foot. I didn’t want to do it all on my own. I wished I was rich and then I could hire someone else to do it. I couldn’t do it properly anyway. Stamp foot.

Then I remembered something I’d read.

It was a story about Suzuki Shunryu (as told in his wonderful biography, Crooked Cucumber), cleaning the communal toilets every morning while he was at University simply because it was ‘good practice’.

This story helped me to remember. It was MY dirt behind the sofa and in the drawers. And if I was cleaning up anyone else’s dirt, that didn’t even begin to make up for the benefit I’d received from living with my cats in this lovely place for a year, using someone else’s furniture, enjoying someone else’s beautiful grounds, and with kind people living around me.

I started to feel grateful. I gently told myself I only had to clean one drawer or one patch of floor at a time. And I got cleaning.

I even enjoyed some of it. Getting rid of cobwebs can be better than sitting zazen. Just like anything, if you bring enough mindfulness to the task, feel grateful, and settle in.

Things to be curious about

Which tasks overwhelm you? What anecdotes have you heard that might help you approach them? How could you find a way to be grateful?


There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes.

~William J. Bennet


About Writing Our Way Home

Kaspa & Fiona’s eyes met across a crowded room in 2010. They decided to: a) get married & spend their rest of our lives together, & b) pool their passions & talents to give birth to Writing Our Way Home. Their mission of helping people to connect with the world through writing. They offer a smorgasbord of writing e-courses, & run a thriving community. Read more about their mindful writing practice, small stones, and meet Lorrie in Fiona’s free ebook. / Fiona is a published novelist, therapist, creativity coach, & is very fond of earl grey and home-made cake. Kaspa is a Buddhist priest, writer, therapist, drama enthusiast, & is still learning to play the ukulele.


7 Responses to “On hating housework (and what to do about it)”

  1. Misa Derhy says:

    Great article, posting it on FB Elephant page…and wishing to read more from you! Thanks!

  2. chiara_ghiron says:

    same here…. but I have learnt to use housecleaning as a meditation session. Particularly hoovering and mopping the floor. And (although it is far more pleasurable) weeding.
    It seems to work! Probably because you need mindfulness yet it is a simple, repetitive job where you can let your thoughts swim by.

  3. I actually like cleaning! Like Chiara mentioned, it has sort of a meditative quality for me. Plus, even if I can't immediately clean up the whole planet, I can clean up the little corner where I am. Folding laundry on the other hand….not a fan!

  4. Anandi says:

    Enjoyed this piece up until the last line where you quoted William J. Bennet and you lost credibility with me. Really?!

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  7. Nice share,Sometimes I hate it but seeing that your place is not organize makes you more irritated and so better to love and always clean so that your place will be safe and comfortable.