Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Maria Thinks Stuff -If you don't love it...

I've been testing out a few cleaning recipes lately and have been amazed at my new-found passion for cleaning house. Normally, I am a downright awful housewife. I despise the monotony of household chores, and hate hate hate those pesky chores that never seem to go away. You know, the ones like dishes and laundry that seem to pile up seconds after you get done with them.

Oh, how I loathe dishes. My dream house will have five dishwashers. And I will name them Anthony, Rocco, Rosalie, Carmen, and Pete.

Just kidding on Pete.

All this voluntary cleaning got me thinking, what is it about the homemade cleaners that make me actually WANT to clean? I find that just looking at the cleaning bottle gives me a sense of pleasure. Between the novel glass bottle, bright homemade label, and perky orange nozzle, I find myself looking for excuses to use it. It attracts me aesthetically. There's also a sense of accomplishment that I'm able to fill my needs with my own creativity, instead of simply buying a quick fix. The cleaner recipe itself adds appeal because I can customize it with different essential oils every time I make a batch. The various citrus or herbal scents add aromatic appeal and allow me to change it up on a whim.

I just realized I'm waxing poetic over GLASS CLEANER! Wow. I didn't think that was possible, and I don't know if it was necessary. I shall move on.

I Have to Love It!

It finally dawned on me as I stared at the bottle for the umpteenth time. I love the cleaner (well, the bottle more than the cleaner, but that's a topic for another post). The cleaner makes me happy, and so I am more apt to pick it up and use it. This revelation excited me. I have spent the last few years trying to push myself into accepting that housework is misery and I need to suck it up and get it done. Maybe, just maybe, it doesn't have to be miserable. Perhaps I have found a clue to solving my housecleaning misery! It's not enough to make myself a chore list and trudge through. I have to make it challenging and beautiful. I have to love it.

The closer I looked at my life, the more I saw how my environment was fostering my "housework misery." For all of our nearly-four years of marriage, our finances have been exceptionally tight. I have never decorated our home because I couldn't justify spending money on decorative stuff. All of our furniture is second-hand and showing it's age.  Our couch is wearing thin and there are holes and stains on every cushion. It's no wonder I don't bother to clean the dang thing, I view it as a piece of junk! I don't love it, so I don't feel any desire to take care of it. This same sense of apathy applies to nearly every part of my home.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not bemoaning my financial state or complaining about my lack of nice stuff. I'm actually pretty content with my life. I grew up in a frugal family, so living sparsely doesn't make me feel like I am sacrificing anything. Sure, I dream of the day we can buy a big house and fill it with lovely things, but I don't obsess over what I don't have. I simply make do with what I have to work with. We couldn't afford a new couch without accumulating debt, so there's no point in thinking about it.

Somewhere along the way, I went from contentedly making do with what I have to not caring if it got worse. At some point I stopped trying to keep my possessions in good condition and decided that "one more hole/scuff/stain" was no big deal. But 234,623,236 stains later, I have a heap of junk that will never look nice and I begin to despise the state of my home. I've come to realize that I have to change the way I think about housework and home life. I need to take more pride in my home, either by adding things (decor, etc.) that please me or by learning to love and appreciate what I already have, despite it's lack of aesthetic or functional appeal.

Caring for Your Home Fills Another Need

Being a full-time housewife and stay-at-home mother can often mean that you have fewer opportunities to challenge yourself mentally. No, psychological warfare with a two year old doesn't count as a mental challenge. We need to be presented with a puzzle and be able to tackle it until we find an answer; we need that satisfaction of having conquered a challenge. Many women thrive on creativity, as well as surrounding themselves with beauty. There is something to be said for satisfying your need for aesthetic pleasure. It can heighten your mood and calm you down. The day-to-day monotony of diapers, dishes, cooking, and child-wrangling doesn't offer many opportunities to flex the mind or find aesthetic pleasure. At least, not at first glance.

Searching to fill that need, we are left with two choices. We can either look outside the home to find our challenge, or we can find the challenges in our home life. Many wives and mothers have found activities outside the home to satisfy the itch. For my part, going outside the home is impractical right now. Heck, just going to Walmart AND Aldi in the same shopping trip is a challenge! My only alternative, then, is to allow my daily work to inspire me and challenge me.

Housework bores me because I view it as the awful thing I have to get done before I can have fun. But what if I could make the housework fun? What if I can find ways to utilize my personal skills in my every day tasks? This could satisfy my need for mental exercise, creativity, and aesthetic pleasure, as well as give me the motivation to maintain a well-kept home.

My Personal Goal

From now on, I'm going to try to keep three things in mind.

  1. Change or add things into my home that encourage me to love it.
  2. Learn to love the things I cannot change right now.
  3. As I go about my daily tasks, think of reasons to appreciate the object I'm working on.

I have a feeling I will quickly latch on to the "change or add things" part and overlook the harder part. My biggest challenge will be learning to appreciate what I have, no matter it's condition or appeal.  Until I learn to appreciate what I have, and strive to take pride in it, then I will fall into the rut of constantly buying or making new things in an effort to find happiness. I plan on printing out my new mantra and posting it where I will be reminded regularly.

So hit me up with some ideas, what do you do that encourages you to love and care for your home?

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