First off, a big mea culpa for dropping the ball on our virtual book club. So sorry guys! I could fib and say I was saving this chapter for this month but the truth is things got crazy the last few months and stuff like writing my own book got in the way of reading anything else. Nevertheless, we’re back on board now and I’m thinking of picking up every other week again. How does that schedule work for you all?
This week’s chapter is so appropriate for POYEL, it’s eerie. Today in our discusion of Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children: Becoming a Mindful Parent we’re discussing, wait for it, Chapter 7: What Can I do About all the Housework? Ha! Do you love it or what?
I was pulled into this chapter from the very first paragraph:
Two and a half hours each day. Not counting time spent with children, this is the amount of time a mother spends on housework, such as cooking, laundry and cleaning… From a Buddhist perspective, the most important question concerning this workload is: What is the state of our minds throughout these hours?
The overarching theme of this section is that housework exists, for everyone, there’s just no getting around it. So what can we consciously do to make sure that the time we spend emerged in it isn’t spent being resentful or even trying to numb our minds (the author points out that these behaviors for a potential sixteen hours a week can only have an adverse effect on our well-being).
The answer, as it so often is in this book, is to use the time to practice mindfulness and consciously rethink our attitudes. I had a total light bulb moment, as they say, when I read this:
Housework may be the best opportunity to practice being present. If we choose, mindful house cleaning can be space away form the noise of our racing thoughts and feelings. The back-and-forth motion of a broom creates a rhythm to focus on. The act of preparing a meal invites all the senses to attention.
Whoa. The idea of seeing housework as an opportunity for focus and calm – a gift even – in the midst of a busy day – that kinda turned my world on it’s head.
Of course having a realization and actually making peace with housework is two very different things. On that note, I really appreciated what was written about focusing on the process. The author makes some very helpful points about our tendencies to postpone happiness until the housework is done. “Then you can relax,” she writes. (Umm, guilty!). She then makes a recommendation:
I chanced on a magical little book that can transform the act of home care into a pleasure. Zen Buddhist and lay monk Gary Thorp’s Sweeping Changes offers perspective on housework as a chance to reconnect with yourself.
A book that can transform the act of home care into a pleasure? That’s going on my library reading list for sure.
Finally, if you read the chapter then you know I had to point out/celebrate one last point:
According to Zen teachings, we increase our capacity to live mindfully in the present when we value simplicity. A Zen approach to household maintenance challenges us to rid our home of clutter, freeing ourselves of any object that is no longer useful.
Amen sister. So what do you guys think of all this? Do you think it’s actually possible to use cleaning time as a sort of me time? Have any of you actually been successful at it?
P.S. This is a really nice post on the topic from Word Play House: Clean Calm – Enjoying Homekeeping with Children.
P.P.S. Meet me back here in two weeks on Wednesday, January 23rd, for a chat on Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children: Becoming a Mindful Parent Chapter 8: Can I Change My Ways? and catch up with all the chapters we’ve covered so far here.