The Joy in Everyday Homemaking, Even When You're Burnt Out

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

I've posted a lot lately about routines and the things we need to get done every day - getting dressed, morning and evening routines, cleaning, laundry, cooking dinner every night. It can start to seem not only overwhelming, but exhaustingly reminiscent of Groundhog's Day. Because those are the daily living tasks that just don't end. Even when you finally get all the laundry done, you still have to wear clothes and there will be another load tomorrow. The dishwasher is finally empty, but you have to drink your coffee out of something. You did all the grocery shopping and cooked all the meals but an empty fridge will stare back at you again next week. It's repetitive and mundane and can easily leave you asking 'why even bother?'

I hear you. I've been there myself. Still am there, some days. Yes, the rhythm of life reminds us that we're alive. It's good to sit back and remember that we get to do all these daily tasks because we're alive. But even when I'm being grateful for that fact, there are still a few things I do to bring back the joy in homemaking, even when I'm a little burnt out.

Do one thing for yourself. The thing about homemaking is that, unless you live alone, you do a heck of a lot of things for other people. And sometimes you still do a lot of things for other people even when you do live alone! We recognize the importance of self-care but we still somehow think that doing things solely for ourselves is selfish. It's not. It's self-respect to wake up and plan on doing at least one thing every day that you're incredibly excited about. It can be going out to dinner with a friend or simply eating a piece of chocolate while reading a book. No matter how small it is, do one thing daily to treat yourself. Notice it and enjoy living in just that moment.

Make a to do list. The days I'm feeling particularly burnt out are the days that don't have a lot of structure. I just wake up and think, round and round, about the various things I need to get done. But that quickly makes it feel like there's no end in sight. Instead, I get out a pen and paper and move those swirling thoughts out of my mind. I realize it actually won't take me that long at all. And I make sure to put a few fun things on the list as well, of course.

Play music while you work. You know what's stressful? Multitasking. I know people like to use their cleaning and cooking time as a time to also listen to podcasts, books, and lessons so they're always learning something new and not 'wasting time.' But that is extra tiring and can make the physical task at hand seem more daunting than it is. Give yourself a break and play some music instead. Dance around while you clean. Listen to something soothing while you cook to relax. Let your mind wander - it doesn't need to be working all the time.

Accept spontaneity. I love my routine too. I know my cleaning routine helps me stay on top of my tasks but I also don't want to follow it so rigidly that I can't recognize, accept, and enjoy moments of spontaneity when they come. Nothing leads to burn out quite like being slave to a schedule. Spend quality time with your loved ones when they need or want it, not when it's most convenient for you. Take the dog for a mid-day walk when the weather is particularly cooperative. Invite neighbors or friends in for coffee when you see them on the street or they let you know they're nearby. Drop the perfection mindset and enjoy the moments as they present themselves.

Journal about the little things. If you find yourself rushing and losing the little moments to feelings of stress, take up a practice where you journal every night about at least three tiny things that brought you happiness throughout the day. Just the little things. The way the sunshine sparkled through the tree leaves on your walk. The dog's little paws moving in their sleep. The smell of the kitchen while a pie is in the oven. Remembering that you're going to be journaling about these things later in the evening will help you notice them throughout the day and be more present and joyful in each moment as they happen.

Practice Lagom. You've heard of hygge, I'm sure, the Danish word for the idea of creating coziness and contentment. Another practice I love comes from a Swedish word. Lagom. It means 'just the right amount' and it's another way of practicing contentment by way of saying no to excess. Excess often strips the joy from our days. We do too much and eat too much and spend too much, each time leaving us feeling more and more drained. If you want to bring some joy back into your day instead, try practicing this art of Lagom at least once a day. Stay in instead of adding something to your calendar. Eat a smaller piece of pie. Ignore the impulse to online shop. Put a time limit on your Instagram scrolling. Do one mindful thing each day to find that 'just enough' sweet spot. The balance it brings creates a lot of happiness even in the simplest days.

Stop complaining. Yes, you knew this would make the list. Complaining never solves anything, and mostly just leads me to dwell on the complaints and make the situation worse. There are times when I need to vent but most of the time, I complain for the sake of complaining. It's a very bad habit that would be better substituted for gratitude. Appreciate the fact that so many people wish they had the exact thing I'm complaining about, because my life is quite blessed. This has made a big difference in my attitude on the days that seem hard.

I hope some of these practices will help you discover the joy in your daily life. Do you get a little burnt out by these daily tasks? What do you do to bring a little joy back into your homemaking?