From the archives - Work in Progress ( Nov 2007)

3 January 2010

This is the quark I made from my yoghurt last week. It drained for four days before I could get back to it, but that's fine as long as it's kept refrigerated. The cheese on the left is savory with cucumber, red capsicum (red pepper), green onion and salt and pepper. It's great on crackers or a sandwich. The one on the right is sweet with honey stirred through it. It's delicious on toast for breakfast. I also collected a small jug of whey that I'll use to make a cake and pikelets (flapjacks).

Housework never ends! You could work half the day just doing what needs to be done in your home, or you could work to a schedule and have your chores organised for the days during the week, but even if you stuck rigidly to your schedule, you'd still have to do it all again tomorrow or next week. Because housework never ends.

I used to struggle with this. I had real trouble coming to terms with the endless nature of it. How could you ever want to do any chore, and get joy from it, when it would never end? No matter how well I did what I had to do, there would always be something else to do tomorrow - or I would have to do the same thing, over and over again.

When I first starting living simply, this was the one thing that didn't just fall into place for me. If I wanted to live well, get joy from the simple things that made up my day and provide a good home for my family and myself, then I had to look at my chores in a different way. I am one of those women who, although I've worked outside the home most of my life, when I became a full time homemaker/housewife, I wore that badge with pride and wanted to live up to the true and full meaning of the name.

So I started thinking about the never-ending nature of housework, as that was the bit that bothered me the most. I didn't have a problem with most of the chores themselves. One of the things Hanno impressed me with early on in our relationship was his attitude of "It has to be done, I'll just do it." So I started with that and I just did what had to be done. I made sure I didn't do all the things I liked doing on the same day, and sprinkled them throughout the week so there were always days I did chores I liked doing - like cooking, baking, gardening and mending with things I didn't like so much - like cleaning toilets, ironing and vacuuming. That worked! But no matter how many times I packed the dishwasher or cleaned the shower, or how well I did it, it still had to be done the next day or next week. Hmmmmm.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. If housework never ends then I should get rid of that feeling that if I clean the fridge out or mop the floor, then that's done. Over with. Finished. Completed. All fixed. If housework never ends, then I never have to finish it. Eureka!

When I stopped thinking that I'd work through my chores, get everything finished and then they'd get messed up again so I'd have to start over again, and replaced it with I'll do the ironing, mopping, washing up, make the beds and bake today and if I don't have time for the mopping, I'll do that tomorrow, that made a difference. I continued working with chores I liked, mixed with those I didn't like so much, and that worked well for me. I also changed things to better suit the way I worked. I stopped vacuuming so much and started sweeping. I liked sweeping, so I could still keep the floors clean without the vacuum cleaner. Now I vacuum once a week and sweep the rest of the time. I stopped using the dishwasher and started washing up by hand, and found I really liked it. I stopped ironing everything we wore and now just iron my work clothes and the napkins, tablecloths and pillow slips that I like ironed. I stopped washing everything that had been used once and now only wash what is dirty or smelly - this helped reduce my washing to two or three loads a week. That made a big difference to the amount of housework I did and also cut back on our power and water usage. A big plus.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to live in a clean and comfortable home that you can enjoy with your family and friends, then housework is a part of your life. If it's inevitable then you should try to make the most of it. You might end up liking most of it, like I do. Rethink how you work. Just because you've always done something one way, it doesn't mean it has to be like that forever. If you can modify something to better suit how you work, do it. Streamline your tasks and don't aim for perfection. Take breaks. Do everything you do well and find the pleasure in it - it will be there lurking, you just have to find it. Be proud of what you achieve every day because you are providing a comfortable home for your family, you are making the most of the resources you have and looking after what you own. That is a good thing. And most of all, stop thinking that you'll never get through it all. Housework never ends, so don't try to finish it.


  1. I needed this post today. I have four kiddos and nothing ever stays done. I HATE housecleaning and it feels like that's all I do over and over and over. I will try your approach and see how it goes.

  2. That is fantastic. My new way for looking at housework this year.

    Thank you ~ FlowerLady

  3. House work does never end.
    I think you have just identified a road block for me who likes things all wrapped up and ticked off. I have noticed myself using 'get caught up on' in my lists lately instead of Do. So catch up on washing and folding ... etc.
    Heres something that I will ponder for a while now. Thanks Rhonda.

  4. I love this post. I'm new to your blog so all the archive posts are new to me which is great. A lot of it rings true for me. I think the most important point you made is not to aim for perfection. Aiming for 'perfect' can bring a lot of misery (and exhaustion). It's definitely important to set out to do chores the way it suits you and your family. I watch a movie when I'm ironing and when the kids aren't around. Thanks for another great post.


  5. I like your philosophy, thank you for sharing that idea, I needed it.

  6. Thank you for another positive and common sense post. Much more sensible to do what you can and feel that you have achieved something rather than stressing at not being "superwoman"!

  7. New year--new way of thinking. Thankyou for this article. Definitely hit home. ---Krystal

  8. You've made me realise this is what I struggle with. The whole idea that I just did a job, and here it is again! Looking back, the times I've been doing what I feel is a good amount of house work, was when I was able to enjoy the task somewhat. Thank you, this is just what I needed

  9. Thank you for this, I need to learn this lesson - I get so cross that everything needs doing again when I only did it the day before yesterday, the kitchen and dusting being the main one.

    I never thought that I could just change my mindset to "it doesnt have to be finished". Hmm!

    One to ponder I think


  10. I really like this post. Thanks for giving me a new way to think about the tasks I don't like to do. I'm going to try it this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

  11. I have fought the feeling of never being done for so long. Until----I changed my thinking. Now, I no longer try to finish everything. As in, it is all done & I won't have to think about it again. Wrong. Now, I try to manage my home and work. It is done, for now. Laundry is twice a week. It is managed. That we will make more later today doesn't matter. It is done for this day. I don't know, but that it helps me!


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