But I Don’t Like Housework!


It was one of those Home and Garden type shows on TV.  The housecleaning expert demonstrated expert techniques for cleaning while the audience ooh’ed and aah’ed. The host chose a member of the studio audience to ask the expert questions.  With the trembling microphone held too far from her mouth, the woman asked, “What can I do?  I just don’t like housework.  I have a bad attitude.”
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The expert’s answer contained wisdom for all of us:  “The things you like to do, you do well.”
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At first glance that doesn’t make sense.  You may be thinking “Wait a minute, she just said she doesn’t like housework so how can she do it well?”  Let’s flip the expert’s statement:  “The things you do well, you like to do.”  How do you do something well?  How do you improve a learned skill?  By doing it, over and over.
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Think about when you learned to drive a car.  There were so many gauges and knobs and levers.  You had to keep an eye on three mirrors, press the gas pedal and remember which one was the brake.  You probably felt pretty dumb and maybe hopeless about “getting” it all.  I remember getting so tense when I drove that my shoulders were tight when I got out of the car.  While learning to drive on a country dirt road, I recall panicking when a car approached from the other direction. “What do I do?” I cried with alarm.  Uh, keep driving.
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You have probably been doing housework for years, but you might feel like you don’t do it well.  Or you may do certain parts well, and feel a lack in other areas.  Nobody likes doing something they can’t do well. There’s a temptation to quit doing the thing that makes us feel awkward or incompetent.  But if we quit before we’ve improved our skill we never get to feel the satisfaction of a skill mastered, let alone the benefit of the skill.
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The audience member’s statement, “I have a bad attitude” implies a feeling of helplessness.  There’s a myth that an attitude somehow lands on us and we can’t help it.  We think we’re stuck with the attitude that it was our lot in life to bear.  The truth is that the sum total of our thoughts equals our attitude. Thoughts create emotions and then harden into attitudes.
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I remember praying and asking (well, maybe begging) God to change my attitude. My emotions were being allowed to control me and I felt helpless.  The reason I remember it so well is that it happened so many times. One day I realized that my negative thoughts were not helping me and it changed my life.
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No matter how hopeless you think your home management skills are, you can improve.  
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You can start this very moment with your thoughts.  Berating yourself and being mean to yourself about your homemaking stops now.  Choose life-giving thoughts, like picturing how great it’s going to be when the home is running smoothly.
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Next choose one area to focus your skill-sharpening on.  Laundry, meal planning, keeping one room picked up, bathrooms, children’s chores—any of these would be a good place to start.
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There are books, courses and friends who can help you.  Lay down your pride and get help.  You’ll use your new and improved skills the rest of your life!  You choose how good is “good enough” for your skills.
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Just remember that when you go beyond “getting by” and get into the second mile, that’s where you find the satisfaction and creativity that makes your skill a joy.  Who knows, you might end up on a Home and Garden channel someday.

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8 Comments

  1. Charlotte, I look forward to your articles so much.  You have a way of making everything seem okay!   I’ve felt the way many times that you described in your article and I am still a work in progress of realizing how important my attitude is in getting my house cleaned, and in everything I’m doing.  Thanks for giving us all grace AND some great ideas!

  2. Charlotte, You are so right that we do what we like to do.  I tend to do the same things and put off what I don’t like to do.  You’ve given me a lot to think about today!  Just like learning to exercise regularly, I’ll use your tips to give my house into better shape!  Thanks so much!

  3. Charlotte,

    Oh how this hit a nerve, I HATE housework and am lousy at it. This is one of those tasks that are low on my priority list, yet it needs to be done. I find deep cleaning intimidating and daunting. Working from home in auto transport adds to the clutter and detracts me from wanting to clean. Thank goodness for friends like you who can share tips with us to slowly add in to our day and take away the negative aspects of housework!

  4. Actually I like housework…a lot more than meal preparation but I’ve learned that having the right tools makes a huge difference.  Trying to “make do” with inferior tools leads to frustration.  There are times, of course, when the budget is tight and we must just pull ourselves up and get the job done, but when possible, I’ve found that investing in the right tools leads to joy.

  5. Oh, how it rings a bell.  Trying to manage a house, feed everyone and teach all the children in 24 hours with a large family leads to well,…procrastination and usually it is the most hated areas of housework that take the slide. 
    I can’t wait to see what you have in your years of wisdom. With 8+ children myself I constantly find you convicting me that it can be done! First it was losing weight and now housework, thanks. 
    I really do appreciate conviction it lets me know God is still around prompting me in the areas I need work not the areas I think I need work:)

  6. There are probably more people than we know who don’t like housework. The thing is, like you said, if you learn to do it well, you can at least do it quickly and get it out of the way.

    I don’t mind housework in smaller doses. Every Monday morning I have a list of “weekly chores” that I do. I don’t mind most of them but I really hate cleaning the kitchen. So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve done that first. I can’t believe the difference it made. Once the kitchen is done (and it’s never as bad as I think it will be), then the rest is easy and quick.

    So if you don’t like housekeeping, just get it overwith as quick as you can!

  7. As always, Charlotte, this is so timely for me. I have just swallowed my pride and asked a friend with a gift for organizing to help me with my house.

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