Finding zen in the laundry


Like most people, I don’t find much joy from cleaning, running errands or putting things away. However, if I don’t stay on top of things, the one bedroom apartment that Christopher and I share starts to look like a very real post-apocalyptic nightmare.

To avoid an avalanche of laundry and dirty dishes, I have made it my habit to dedicate part of the weekend to cleaning and tying up loose ends. It’s usually on Sunday and can range from any where between 30 minutes and several hours, depending on how much time I have or what needs to get done.

Even though I have this plan that works for my lifestyle, it was hard for me to stick with it because, come on, it’s still chores, all the things we do because we HAVE TO. I started to resent all of the work it takes to keep your space in order. I don’t think I was very pleasant to be around.

One thing I did notice was that all of my motivation to get the laundry done, toilet scrubbed, and floor vacuumed was to get to my one goal of… sitting around, followed by… doing nothing! ‘Doing nothing’ was really just a way to give myself permission to turn off my brain for a few hours. Maybe I would watch TV or surf the internet aimlessly.

During moments of clarity, I would be rather disgusted with this absolute waste of time. All of that motivation was being paid off in an unhealthy habit. A habit that, quite frankly, made me feel pretty bad about myself.

After coming to this realization, it has been my goal to find a way to feel more relaxed and to give my mind the escape it craved while giving the home that Christopher and I live in some love.

When I began to look at maintaining my life through a more relaxed set of eyes I found that I didn’t need to ‘unwind’ as much. My time to do that came from the time I put in when I did the dishes or put the laundry away.

So, by now you might be wondering how I got my brain to switch gears. Well, I have two tricks that helped me right away and they are:

Think about why you are putting in the time to take care of your place. Is it so your work week will run more smoothly? For me, I concentrate on why putting the effort in is important for daily operations. For example, doing the dishes now means I won’t have to do them before I cook dinner tomorrow that way I can avoid scrubbing that pan like hell with the baked-on grime crap living on it from the pervious meal.

Another way I set an intention is by dedicating the action to another person that I want to help. A great example of this for me is when I put the laundry away. I like to think ‘my husband will be glad that the laundry is put away so it will save him time in the morning before he goes to work.’ It’s not about expecting anything in return from that person, but being glad in the fact that you are helping another person that you care about.

Keeping up with your space can feel rather isolating. It can begin to feel like everyone is having all of this fun without you and you are just slaving away at a task that no one will notice or even care about. All of that negative thinking of course is untrue but it’s hard to see that when your facebook feed is blowing up with everyone else’s fun weekend adventures. Seems like no one wants to post a selfie of themselves and their mop and broom. Strange, right? 😉 But there’s help! Your pal, technology is by your side. If you have a smartphone consider your isolation days over! I use music apps like Songza to get a good playlist going while I steam clean my kitchen floor or tune into This American Life when I’m reorganizing my closet for spring, etc. Public radio and podcasts help me feel not so alone and learning something at the same time. When listening to playlists, time starts to slip by to the rhythm coming in through my headphones and before I know it I’m dancing with the vacuum in the living room, much like Mrs. Doubtfire.

This is when the magic happens! It stops feeling like doing chores at all, instead it feels kind of fun. Then it feels rewarding as you begin to realize that you took charge of your own life to make it better.

Like most things I post about, with all of this positivity comes some lessons I still have to learn. I am trying to get better at time management. Having a plan of attack is what will make the work less difficult. Right now, I tend to jump into a project like cleaning out my closet without thinking about how I want to organize everything once it’s cleaned. I start, and then I have to stop, which can really take the wind out of your sails. So for now that’s my new ambition, to really think ahead and plan a little bit better.

Life always hands you new challenges just as you complete one.

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