Family Work

It’s boring. It’s menial. If I could afford it, I’d get a maid.  It’s repetitive. Anyone can do it…but of course they don’t, so I do it.  It’s beneath me.  I’d rather be doing something more fun or more important.  I don’t want to spend my whole life scrubbing the floor.  I shouldn’t have to work this hard. What difference does it make anyway?

Have you ever felt this way?  Are these some of the reasons you don’t like cleaning your home? 

A little over 10 years ago I had three young children.  I was siting on my therapy couch (the couch my mom used to have in her office) and going through the mail. I was nursing my little boy..the darling one with the hair like a troll doll.  I was leafing through a magazine, looking for something to read.  I remember all of these details because the article I read completely changed my perspective on my life.  It is called Family Work by Susan Bahr and Cheri Loveless. http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=151 

It’s not short, but it is amazing. 

Just maybe sweeping floors isn’t something we do because we are repressed women.  Maybe it’s not something to be embarassed about when we go to a reunion. 

I hope you will read it, so I won’t summarize it here.  I will tell you a few ways it has affected me. 

Suddenly I wanted to identify myself as a homemaker.  I started to recognize the power, the incredible power of work.  Shortly after that time I had knee surgery…and was indelibly reminded that the ability to work is a blessing.

Sometimes when I try to explain this people get a little glassy eyed and start wondering if scurbbing the toilet is somehow a transcendant experience for me.   I must ENJOY it somehow.  um no.

But by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. 

Who doesn’t feel a sort of breaking apart right now?  We have right vs left, religious vs athiest, and far too often husband vs wife.  We spend a lot of time alone and plugged in…isolated. Virtual smiles, hugs and lols just aren’t the same as their real life counter parts.  Seeing the huge tragedies and devastation instills hopelessnes and helplessness.  In light of all of that…doesn’t it seem even more ridiculous and lonely to spend your day keeping a sink shiny? 

I’m not saying cleaning your home is the answer to life the universe and everything (42).  I am saying that family work has incredible power and meaning.  It can’t be judged monetarily. It can’t be recognized on sight, and it isn’t easily noticed in the course of a day. 

 Work unifies.  We’ve ALL had the experience of being stuck in a siutation doing grunt work with a group of people.  It has great power to unify. The very mindless nature of it allows all ages to help and allows for conversation. Imagine going to a game without a group of friends.  Imagine all that involves, the conversation, the drinks, the noise.  Now imagine those same group of friends in your home, helping you clean up after a move.  The boxes are all in the truck, you are doing a final cleaning of the house.  What kind of conversation is there? What  do you learn about your friends?  Is the CEO friend better at mopping the floor than the autmechanic friend? 

We are so used to virutal work and financial reward with it’s accompanying fame, do we sometimes forget the power of real work and the natural feeling of satisfaction?

What would you be giving yourself and your children if they grew up knowing the satisfaction of a job well done?  What would you be giving yourself if you recognized that making a home matters. 

Learning how to best involve our whole family in work is a process, but I have noticed time and time again that if we are grumpy, working together is the best possible solution.  We start out whining, but by the end there is a positive, creative feeling in our home. Every time.

There is so much to say about this article and philosophy. Try it!  Even with one child..spend some time working together.  See what happens.

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5 Responses to Family Work

  1. FlyBaby Cyndi says:

    LOVE that article Britt! I use to include Maggie in dishes and laundry but found when I added Sarah, it was too hard to do. It was easier to do myself. This article reminds me that I need to find ways to incorporate them in my home blessing. I catch them looking at me with longing in their eyes when I am cleaning and they are watching a show, playing a game or usually playing with a toy in my vacinity just to be close to me. I also need to find ways for Marc and I to become closer again, in that way. He works all day, comes home and rests/plays with the girls, we eat then we play with the girls together. Once they are in bed, we split. Me to do my BBR and watch TV and him to his computer.
    Thank you for posting this, It is an eye opener for me. (((((HUGEhugs)))))

    • Cyndi, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It is SO much easier to clean on your own. It’s an adjustment to go from working around the baby’s schedule, to involving them in the work.

      Using natural cleaners helps me get children involved. It’s much easier for me to hand them baking soda or vinegar and water and know they are safe even if they aren’t careful.

      I have a tough time keeping everyone going when I get sat down to nurse. The helpers scatter, or I turn into an overlord, which isn’t helpful.

  2. Rachel K. says:

    You write so beautifully, Britt! I hope I can convey the love and joy you put into this article into my talk this weekend. Bless you, sweet lady!!!

  3. Emily says:

    That is too funny! That’s the article Jamie linked to on facebook! I loved that article and wrote about it here: http://latg.blogspot.com/2011/07/family-work.html. It totally takes a paradigm shift, but when we have family work, it keeps mom from feeling like the slave!!

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