Being a housewife is, for the most part, a thankless job…. right?
It’s also one of the least glamorous jobs I know.
When I gave up my real job to become a Mom and housewife, I found myself getting extremely frustrated and bored with all the housework.
My personality type is Sanguine with some Choleric (I’m into fun and being the boss). (A great book on the 4 Temperaments here.)
Before becoming a Stay at Home Mom, I’d been in Sales and Sales Management for years. I enjoyed contact with people from all walks of life and the fact that every day was different. Adding to my job satisfaction was the thrill of the sale and excitement of reaching and exceeding targets, and receiving recognition and commission.
None of these joys was to be found in housework. Suddenly I was relegated to something akin to being a slave, or factory worker, at best. I was doing the repetitive kind of work that is death to my personality. It simply wasn’t a fulfilling job proposition for someone like me. And to top it all, there was no monetary reward!
I was taking it out on the people I loved, and it wasn’t pretty. My marriage was suffering because of the constant bickering about whose job was more difficult, exhausting or important.
And then it dawned on me. This was what I had chosen, and I had really good reason to choose this path (to be home with my precious son), so I had best make peace with it.
Here are some ways I found to find my happy place as a housewife:
Getting the mind right
First I had to re-frame my situation. Simply put, re-framing is a way of taking something you currently view as negative and drawing out the positives, until you no longer view it as a negative experience.
I started considering all the pros and cons, and suddenly it easy for me to see how wonderfully peaceful it is to be home with my gorgeous boy, rather than out working 9 to 5.
No rush hour traffic to fight. No pressures of deadlines or targets. All that’s required of me here at home are simple tasks, easily accomplished. Aah… that feels better.
2. Basking in Gratitude
Once those thoughts came, I started feeling really grateful for the little tasks.
- I felt thankful to be packing the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen because it meant we just ate yet another delicious meal cooked by my wonderful husband.
- I felt thankful to be unpacking the dishwasher which magically cleaned away all the grime.
- I felt thankful to be hanging out the washing because it means we have lovely clothes to wear which, again, were magically washed in an automatic washing machine.
Turning it into a Game
I figured I had to find a way to make housework FUN.
- I held a little competition with my husband about who could pack the most goodies in the dishwasher.
- I bought my son a broom in his favourite colour and one in my favourite colour, and (sometimes) we sweep up the floor together. It feels like I’m part of a team now, rather than alone in this.
- It also occurred to me that I didn’t notice I was working when my son and hubby were having fun within earshot. I love hearing them tease and laugh while I get through my to-do list.
- When they aren’t home I put on some upbeat music or have my favourite TV programme playing in the background.
- Singing or whistling while you work has much the same uplifting effect.
Just rubbin’ and a scrubbin’ and a-raisin’ ’em out
I gotta hang ’em out early I hope the sun comes out
Counting myself Lucky
Ever read the classic gem by Dr. Seuss called Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
If you haven’t you’re missing out. Here’s a quote:
Think they work you too hard…? Think of poor Ali Sard! He has to mow grass in his uncle’s backyard and its quick growing grass and it grows as he mows it.
The faster he mows it, the faster he grows it.
And all that his stingy old uncle will pay for his shoving that mower around in that the hay is the piffulous pay of two Dooklas a day.
And Ali can’t live on such piffulous pay!
SO…He has to paint flagpoles on Sundays in Grooz. How lucky you are you don’t live in his shoes!
If I’m having an off day, I just pop on the audio version or flip through the book, and I can’t help thinking of all the ways I’m lucky. e.g. I don’t have to walk miles to fetch cold water and use elbow grease to scrub the pots and pans, like half of the women in Africa.
Appreciating my Hubby
I also got to thinking of what my husband must feel like, going out to work every day to bring home the bacon, facing all kinds of stresses and strains, only to come home to a dirty house and a disgruntled wife, complaining about housework. And so I stopped moaning and started appreciating.
I stopped focusing on what my husband was no longer doing around the house and started noticing what he was doing – the many ways he helped me out. Picking up groceries on his way home, fixing the oven and toaster, replacing light bulbs, coming home early some days to cook for us. I started noticing how awesome he is at playing with our son, bathing him, taking him out for walks, teaching him sports.
I replaced feeling unappreciated with appreciation for my spouse, and started seeing our relationship blossom.
Taking Pride in my work
Another thing I noticed was that I don’t feel great when the house is a tip. It feels depressing to walk into a messy house and I feel embarrassed to invite friends around. It started to make sense to me that having a clean house is what I wanted, and therefore cleaning house was what I wanted.
So I started treating it like more like a paying job. I set my own personal (soft) deadline – to have it neat and tidy by the time my hubby arrived home each day. Make no mistake, it’s never going to be featured in a glossy Homemakers Magazine, or anything, but it looks way better than it did before.
Oh… and I threw myself into real work again. I realised that though I found being a Mother extremely fulfilling, I also missed those parts of me that like doing other things.
It had always been my dream to be a writer, so I combined my lifelong passion (writing) and my newfound passion (motherhood) and started writing a book on the joys and benefits of nursing. The book morphed into my first website, Happy Human Pacifier.
7. Finding a Rhythm
When I first started tackling the housework all on my own, it all felt way more difficult than I expected. It took me some time to get into my groove. But now I have a system, and there’s an easier flow to my day now.
In a few more months or years, I may even get to the point where housework becomes a form of meditation, for me… well, that’s the goal.
For now, I have a sense of contentment that wasn’t there before.
Life is sweet, my love life has improved, I’m feeling more fulfilled, I’m writing every day, and my house is a whole lot cleaner.
Do you have any special tricks that turn your housework into play? Would love to hear your comments…