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The Repetitive Nature of Homemaking

To continue my series on the art of homemaking, we are exploring the repetitive nature of our daily work.

Today's video is dedicated to my friend, Cliff Simon, who we tragically lost in March of this year. Cliff was one-of-a-kind: a talented actor, author, adventurer, and dear friend. He will be greatly missed. 

In loving memory of 
Cliff Simon
1962- 2021

The Repetitive Nature of Homemaking 
By Jennifer L. Scott 

The repetitive nature of homemaking… something we all have to deal with. What mindset do we need? How should we approach it? What joy can we derive from it? That’s what we are exploring in today’s video.

What prompted me to explore the repetitive nature of homemaking? Filming this video. I’m often doing the same things in my videos… washing dishes, laying tablecloths, straightening the sofas, wiping surfaces. 

Homemaking, particularly cleaning, is a repetitive business, isn’t it? In our modern world, our brains are wired for excitement. Our attention spans are short. We all long for very nice things… certainly interiors. So how does the mundane, repetitive and necessary care of our home… the thing that rarely changes… fit into this modern world? That could be why homemaking is often dreaded, or shall we say, misunderstood? 

 I’ve written about this in my Madame Chic books, but homemaking tasks can certainly be compared to Sisyphus. Sisyphus is a figure from Greek mythology. Zeus gave him the punishment of forever rolling the boulder up the hill in Hades. Well, I’m not going to lie and say that homemaking sometimes doesn’t feel like that. Because it does. We clean something once and sometimes within an hour, it needs attention again! Certainly every day, various tasks need to be done. Over and over again. So, for our brains, which are tuned for excitement. How do we avoid becoming bitter, like I’m sure old Sisyphus was? The key is in deriving comfort and joy from these repetitive tasks. If they are tasks you must do, then you must learn to enjoy them. 

Not all tasks are created equal, and some are more glamorous than others. Scrubbing the walls is not a favorite of mine. I usually get other people to do this, but this particular wall, with its crayon marks and dirt, was really bothering me. These high-traffic areas need cleaning on a regular basis if our homes are to look tidy. So if you’re doing a task that is by nature, rather unenjoyable, focus on the result, which will be a clean, sparkling place. That is enough to bring me joy. But truly, no matter what you’re doing, aim to look on the bright side and find the one aspect of the task, which can spark positive feelings in you. If I’m alone and no one is around, I like to focus on the sounds of cleaning. Those quiet, everyday sounds that we take for granted, but can bring us comfort, can also bring us companionship. If you are surrounded with a loud family, and oftentimes we are, aim to find the joy in that. And hey, give them a broom and they can help! 

 Let’s talk about self-presentation. Because that, for me, brings about joy as well. It’s important that I get dressed and look my best every day. Many homemakers fall into the trap of thinking that because they are doing these mundane, repetitive tasks, they don’t need to dress up for it. So many will sentence themselves to a life of “cleaning clothes”… you know, misshapen, old clothes that you don’t care about if they get ruined. Or perpetual workout clothes. The trouble with this, is that our repetitive homemaking tasks are never going away. They are repetitive. They are Sisyphean. And so each and every day we will find ourselves doing them. So, you ask yourself. Each and every day do I want to wear clothes for drudgery? Or do I want to get dressed and present my true style to the world? Even if it’s just me? Life is short, my friends. Dress to express yourself. Dress for dignity. Put an apron on if you have to. But you don’t want to go through your whole life realizing you were saving your best clothes for that special occasion that never came. When I dress for the day, I feel better. I feel joyous. I feel dignified, even if my task is the same old task I do every day of my life. 

And finally, my fellow connoisseurs, don’t forget to take time for yourself. Indulge in the restorative rituals every day that bring you pleasure. Because yes, we have repetitive cleaning tasks, but we can also have repetitive breaks that revive our spirit and recharge us for what’s to come next. Sisyphus never took a tea break… but we can. I hope you enjoyed today’s homemaking video. 


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Comment of the Week
Stacie writes, "I love your tip about sitting down to eat your meals. I have a story I'd like to share. I worked in the OR for more than 30 years, and to say the nurse's lounge during lunch time is chaotic is an understatement. However, there was one nurse that ALWAYS set out her real plate, silverware and glass to have her meal. Sometimes it was a salad she prepared from home or sandwich or chicken strips from hospital kitchen. It was like a little calm in the midst of the storm. I never forgot that and now that I'm retired, I always set a real plate, silverware and glass to have my meals--even if I'm by myself.... Stacie"

Dear Stacie, I loved your story. It expressed how elegant people stand out so perfectly. In the chaos of the lunchroom, she stood out and left a great impression on you. I loved that. Thank you for sharing it. 

I hope you enjoyed today's homemaking video and that it gave you much to ponder. See you soon!



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Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog and reading your books for years. I love The Daily Connoisseur! I typically do not leave comments on blogs, but today’s post on homemaking is taking me out of my comfort zone and leaving a comment! I think you would really enjoy reading the book “The Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Harrison Warren (if you have not done so already). It is a Christian book on “sacred practices in everyday life”.

Brittany said...

Jennifer! I think you are so wonderful and your channel and books have enriched my life so much. I just finished reading The Clocks. So good!
Okay, I noticed that you mentioned that you usually have someone else do the job of wiping the walls. One thing I have wondered about many times and would love for you to share is what help you do have to be able to do what you do. For example, does your husband watch the kids while you film? Do you have gardening help or any other kind of consistent help to give you the time you need to write and pursue your channel? I have five young children and a husband who works 10-12 hours a day at a busy job out of the house. I manage ok but I don’t think I could ever have a career on the side right now like you do. But … maybe I am doing something wrong or inefficiently. I would really love to know if there is any behind the scenes help you use to allow you to have the time you need. I long for a pursuit beyond the house that still allows me to be a stay at home mom, but I always feel I couldn’t manage it in the circumstances but maybe I am wrong. Maybe you have some insight of perspective that would be helpful.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Anon- thank you for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment and thank you for that book recommendation. It sounds excellent!

Hi Brittany, thank you! My family do help me out. I choose to not put my children in my videos, which is why you don't see them in there. We also have bi-monthly housekeeping help at this time, which definitely helps me out and allows me to get more work done. Thank you so much for watching!