Friday, June 27, 2008

The Spiritual Aspect of Housework

(Not my photo)

These two articles "The Sacred Nature of Everyday Work" and "My Home as a Temple" are must reads. I often get overwhelmed and discouraged by all the demands of running a household and trying to keep my house clean. I've been doing better this past week and have found better routines and a better attitude. However, these articles moved my mind beyond the "task" of keeping my home clean to the "purpose" of housework and the possibilities that I am missing out on by being so task oriented.
The Sacred Nature article talks about the bonding that is created between family members when they work on tasks together. This reminded me of some of my own fond memories from my youth. We heated our home with a wood burning stove and each fall a load of logs would come and fill our driveway and our task was to stack all those logs on the back patio. This was a time consuming job and took all of us working together to do it. I remember that we formed a chain and passed the logs from one person to the next. Even to this day the overall feeling that remains with me is the fun that we had working together. My parents might have a different feeling about it. Maybe we complained and whined and whatever, but all I remember is the bond that felt with the others who shared that experience with me.
Another thing the articles talk about is working together. I don't think it means that on every chore that has to be done that everyone has to be together, but definitely none of us like doing jobs by ourself. I remember when I worked at a boys ranch (for teenaged boys who needed counseling) and a major component of our responsibilities as the "parents" was to have the boys do chores. The meals were cafeteria style and once a week it was our house duty to clean the large kitchen (like schools have). We had fourteen boys we were responsible for. Even with all of us working I think it took close to an hour to clean the kitchen. Jeremy and I divided the responsibilities between the boys and then we would work along side them. One time one of the boys commented about the fact that we worked along with them. I didn't understand why this was a big deal to him. He said that none of the other house parents worked with the boys, they would just sit and talk while they made the boys work. Us willingly working along side the boys helped them have greater respect for us and it also formed a bond between us.
At that point in my life, at least in that certain situation, it seemed natural to not require something of those boys that I wasn't willing to do myself. Now as a mother and the manager of my household I'm not quite as quick to work along side my kids. It's definitely not because I am sitting down while my kids work, it's more of a divide and conquer attitude - if we split up the work and you do that and I do this we will get done faster. Sometimes that is necessary, but right now while my kids are so young and think it will be better for me to work with my kids and not get all the tasks done than any other way. There is definitely time and place for kids learning to do things on their own and learning responsibility of a task and blah, blah, but I'm not at that stage yet with my kids.
The articles also point out that service and gaining Christ-like attributes are a result of family work and the ordinary everyday tasks that we have to do so often. I'll have to remember that when I am sweeping the floor for the fourth time in the same day, or wiping up the 3rd glass of spilled milk, or whatever the situation is that usually leaves me frustrated and feeling down. As I set my sights higher and maintain a spiritual view on these physical tasks I hope to transform my way of thinking and focus more on the positive aspects of housework rather than the negative - let them fill my soul rather than empty me emotionally.


The Dawlings said...

great post Jen! I so agree. Housework is never really fun--but when I do it with my spouse, it is more enjoyable. And even though it takes four times the amount of time having the kids help, or helping them do something, it really helps them learn to be responsible and how to do things correctly. I get frustrated when parents tell kids, "go clean the room"--wow that is overwhelming to a little kid! Instead I try to go with them, and together we do one of the tasks in the room. Then maybe I give them their own task to work on as I do something else. Sure I didn't make the mess, so why should I clean it up... But, we don't want them using that excuse when helping out, so we shouldn't use it either. Love your ideas! You have motivated me to be better (and I can't wait to read the articles!)

Heather said...

I'm excited to read the articles. I know I need more patience when it comes to working with my kids. Hannah gets so overwhelmed when I tell her to clean her room. Abe hardly has any stuff so it isn't hard for him. I think that's the key - reduce the stuff in Hannah's room. Anyways... but yeah, it seems like it's an attitude thing, where the mom really can make the difference in how the kids view work if we do it with them. That's a great example you shared of working with the boys at the ranch. Was that the Jacobsen's ranch?

Wow - you only have 65 days to go? Amazing how time flies when I'm the one not pregnant -eh?!! I hope all is well and that you're feeling okay. And I hope you can stay cool during the summer months. That would be hard when prego. Good luck!

The Style Sisters said...

You are one amazing mom! I love your blog and all the things you write about. What an great example you are to your children and everyone else you come in contact with. You are one talented, spiritual, happy, and creative person! The housework will get done and the kids will learn (I am still hoping that Emily (who will be 18) will remember all the things I have taught her about cleaning, because if you looked at her room today you would never know I taught her anything!) Just remember to enjoy your kids.... They grow up soooo fast! and soon the house is too quiet and too clean. :)
Hope to see you when I come out next week to visit the family.

Love, Karin