How To Find Peace and Meaning in Cleaning


How To Find Peace and Meaning In Cleaning

“Find my purpose? Yeah right, in all my spare time? Maybe in 20 years I will have the time to find my purpose and explore life’s meaning but for now I’m up to my ears in this never-ending cycle of housework.”  Is that how you feel?  I can relate.

I am usually a very productive person, after all I recently discovered my superpower was productivity.  The key to productivity is time management and in the past, my time was worth a LOT.  I worked full time in media so every spare hour when I wasn’t at work or traveling for work I wanted to spend with my son.  It made more sense therefore to outsource my housecleaning duties, including laundry, to someone else who could spend 4-8 hours getting my house in order.  

That said, when I was laid off from my job, I obviously no longer needed a housekeeper.  Not only did we not have the money, but I would be home ALL DAY with SO much extra time on my hands that this cut from the budget was a no-brainer.   I would easily be able to make my own house sparkling clean, leaving me with ample time to put some cookies in the oven to welcome my son home from school and put on a nice dress to welcome my husband home from work with a kiss that would leave a fresh lipstick mark on his cheek, right?

I discovered very quickly that this fantasy life I had imagined as a work-at-home mom was not happening.  I guess I could have made it happen, perhaps when I wasn’t volunteering at after school programs in local public schools twice a week, or launching a new business or helping my Pastor husband lead our church, but my superpower was beginning to fail me. 

I quickly found that I am VERY bad at this whole work-at-home-mom thing.  In fact, when I have time to make dinner, we have to eat it over our laps in the living room because our dining room table is so covered with laundry. Albeit clean laundry, it is literally a huge pile of unfolded clothes from socks to underwear and bras on display for the whole neighborhood to see.  And it always seems to be there, no matter my efforts to make a dent in it.  Massive mom fail.

To address this, recently I inevitably did what I always do when the housework finally becomes too unbearable to live with and I took the entire first free Saturday to do a complete Fall Housecleaning.  I have a small house but it still took me all day.  I discovered something after that day-long project.

After doing the laundry, changing the linens, making the beds, vacuuming and mopping the floors, cleaning the baseboards, vacuuming the curtains, dusting everything, doing the dishes and taking out the trash, I felt such a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace. 

Everyone knows that a clean home is a much happier home, but finding the motivation to keep your home clean is a completely different story.  I asked myself why it was that I hadn’t created a process to ease the pain of my messy house and keep this feeling of peace and accomplishment going on a regular basis?

The answer was that I wasn’t motivated to create a system because although it was productive work, I didn’t see housework as meaningful work, therefore I was always finding something more meaningful to spend my time on, including watching the Dodgers play while the laundry mocked me from the dining room table. 

Enter Elena

Allow me to tell you about my friend Elena.  Elena lives with her daughter and son in law and her 3 grandchildren in Ozark, Missouri.  In the sixteen years I have known her, she has never ceased to serve others.  Her chosen method of service? Housekeeping. 

She is constantly working to clean up after all of those around her, from morning to evening never resting from her housework chores. She does so with purpose and peace, with an insistence on cleaning up after others and when she isn’t cleaning, she’s offering to cook for them. 

Her family is a magnet for hospitality so it’s a rarity that their home isn’t overflowing with guests, but Elena does not limit her work to her immediate family.  She graciously offers to do the laundry, cook and clean up after whomever happens to be staying with them at the time, including me, my husband and my son on multiple occasions.

As if that isn’t enough, early every Saturday morning, Elena goes to clean her local church, for free.  If you didn’t know her, you would think she was a glutton for punishment, but Elena is the consummate example to me of someone who has found meaning and purpose through housekeeping.

Elena has discovered what it means to live the abundant life.  Not because she is jet-setting around the world, enjoying her golden years and checking things off of her bucket list, but because she is resolved to a simple life of service to others, using her gifts.

I am determined to live an abundant life so I am taking a cue from Elena and finding meaning in the mundane.

3 Ways to Find Peace and Meaning Through Cleaning

Start With Gratitude

When I clean my house now, I thank God for the joy of being home to enjoy the house I’ve worked so hard for all of these years.  I’m thankful for the washer and dryer I have conveniently located in my little kitchen.  I’m thankful for the way my Dyson makes my beautiful rug look brand new.  And I’m thankful for the running water to do the dishes that previously used to pile up on my counter for days.

Cue The Music

In the past, I’d just hurry through chores as fast as possible because it all seemed so meaningless to me but I now look forward to the time I schedule to clean.  I connect my iPhone to our Bluetooth surround sound and blast my Spotify playlist to my heart’s content. It helps that I’m home alone, but if you have others in the house, a simple set of earbuds can give you the same mood lifting experience as you clean.  This makes housekeeping meaningful for your own mental health.

If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest.Jesus

Recognize Cleaning is an Act of Service

In 2013, A study that was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology polled 400 Americans between the ages of 18 and 78 on whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy.   The scientists examined their attitudes toward meaning, happiness, and many other variables over a month-long period. 

The study found that participants reported deriving meaning from giving a part of themselves away to others and making a sacrifice on behalf of the overall group.  People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness.

Join the ranks of those in this study who found the most meaning in their lives when they were serving others.  Recognize that as you clean you are serving your family and that is a very meaningful task because when you are doing household chores, you are providing the very foundation for your family to thrive in. 

Create A System To Get It Done

Anytime you can check things off of your list, it adds meaning to your day because it fuels your sense of accomplishment, which leads to a happier mom & wife, which let’s be honest makes for a happy home life.

There is a big difference between knowing something will add meaning to your life and actually doing it.  I have found that the best way to ensure I do what I know I should for a clean and peaceful home is to set up a system.  The system has to work for you, for your schedule, and your motivation.  I have now created a system for finding meaning in housework. Here is the system that I created for myself:

  • Make a List

    First I listed out all of the cleaning tasks I needed to take care of each week.

  • Group Daily Tasks

    Next, I separated which tasks needed to be done daily from those that could be done once or a few times per week and grouped the dailies together.

  • Find The Time

    Last I checked my calendar to find open slots to assign all of the tasks and scheduled them as re-occurring events. Then I signed up with Grove Collective for my favorite Mrs. Meyers cleaning supplies to be delivered to me at a discount. You can use this link to get $10 toward your purchase. Grove Collective $10

For me, it worked best to group the tasks of making the bed and starting a load of laundry into the first hour of my day and come back to them later as time allowed.   I scheduled the dishes and meal prep in the evenings.  This is how I blocked the time on my calendar so my phone would remind me with what I need to do each day.

How to Find Peace and Meaning in Cleaning

I scheduled laundry for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, one complete load only.  Carving out a break mid-morning to fold the laundry.

On Wednesday and Friday morning I scheduled stove and dusting duties.

Saturday morning I scheduled bathrooms, floors, linens and completing laundry.

I put all of it on a handy one sheet if you like to have printed copies of things.  You can get my FREE PRINTABLE below. 

How to Find Peace and Meaning in Cleaning

In summary, you can find meaning and peace in cleaning if you focus on being thankful for the home you have, inspire yourself to move with some energizing music and realize that your service is a gift to your family.

You are doing so much more than washing clothes and mopping floors. You are creating a foundational environment of organization and peace for your family to thrive within.

Happy Cleaning!

Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.

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Comments 2

  1. Great post! Something that has helped motivate me is to time myself doing the chores I tend to hate and therefore put off. Once I learned it takes less than two minutes to unload the dreaded dishwasher, I don’t put it off anymore. It’s hard to convince yourself that you don’t have two minutes to just get it done.

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