Thursday, March 24, 2016


Home. Work. Homework.
Right-of-way. Right away. Write away.

Cleaning floors and doing laundry are chores that are not really all that important...unless you don't do them.

What I mean is, if you stay on top of the laundry and the floors, well, that's great; but it's not like someone is going to walk into your house and say, "Wow! Look at these clean floors! This is fantastic!" Your kids are probably not going to make hand-illustrated cards telling you how much they appreciate walking on clean floors. And a hundred years from now, nobody is going to know or care if you mopped your floors once a week or only when you could no longer remember if your kitchen linoleum was light tan or dark avocado.

Skip mopping a couple of weeks, however, and you will hear about the sticky juice splatters in the kitchen and about somebody's yucky socks.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say:  household chores like laundry and mopping are not often noticed (they are important!), unless you don't do them.

A few thoughts on the under-appreciated, sacrifice-on-the-altar called housework:

A friend told me recently she never feels like she can sit down and relax when her husband is home. "There is always something else that needs to be done - clean the bathroom, mop the floor, cook dinner, fold the clothes, bathe the kids. I'm afraid that if I sit down and take a break, my husband notice all the unfinished housework and think I'm lazy."

So, while her husband reads the newspaper, or watches a ballgame, or trolls the internet, she buzzes around the house like a bee on speed. Even if she has already put in a full day's work. Even if she's exhausted. Even if she is not feeling well.

This woman finds it impossible to relax in her own home.

I understand her dilemma:  I have suffered from the same compulsion and the same inappropriate guilt. Sadly, I have often resented that my husband feels completely free to relax with a book or boob out on his smart phone for an evening, when I obviously still have so much work to do!

I got to thinking...

For my friend's husband, home and work are two completely different things. He wakes up at home and gets ready for the day; then, he drives to work. At the end of the day, he leaves work and drives back home. His job is at one location; his home is at another. I think the separation, perhaps, makes it easier to shift gears between work and rest.

For my friend - and for me - work and home are inextricably intertwined. I wake up every morning at work. My workday starts even before I am dressed:  make the coffee, feed the cat, start the first load of laundry. I am still at work pretty much right up until the minute I crawl into bed:  put away the last of the clean laundry, set up the coffee maker for tomorrow, make sure the cat is inside.

Yes, I am free to take breaks to relax occasionally throughout the day, but if I do, I am surrounded by a plethora of unfinished chores clamoring for my attention. "Taking a break" feels sort of like sitting down with a banana split at Dairy Queen, while your weight-loss coach stares at you through the restaurant window.

Anyway...(yes, there is a point to all this!)...

Thanks to tools and strategies introduced in Tim Challies's book Do More Better, I have done a better job lately of keeping my floors clean, and the laundry stays caught up, too. As a consequence, I have felt freer to take breaks from work, guilt free.

I have also been a more productive writer, writing regularly and consistently meeting my goals. However, I find my writing is more productive when I leave the house. I love to work on writing projects at UTM's Paul Meek Library, and at the coffee shop in Union City, and at the park behind the post office in Martin.

When I sit down to write away from home, I can't hear the sticky floors and dirty underwear scream.

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