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Housekeeping chores are unexciting because they’re expected. There’s no medal for a clean sink without dishes. In fact, it’s a short lived victory. Chores are repetitive and so inevitably you’ll soon have a new pile of dishes to clean again. Here’s how I find joy in regular housework.

Appreciate the immediate gratification.
The weekly cleaning of the bathrooms is the unsung hero’s job. If you want praise, post a puppy video on Facebook. But unlike most paying jobs and renovation projects, the effects of chores are almost always felt immediately.

After folding and putting away laundry, that unsightly pile is gone and all clothing options are available for the choosing tomorrow. After washing the floors, you can clearly see it sparkle. The only evidence of the past is the dirty water you dispose.

Few good things in life reward immediately. Most projects take months and even gardening requires patience. But cleaning is immediate and that’s actually quite enjoyable.

Get the right tools.
If it’s too aggravating, it’s probably not the right tool. I understood this one day as I windexed my glass shower doors. I sprayed and scrubbed then sprayed and scrubbed and repeated again. As I cursed the soap residue, I realized there are products specifically designed for bathroom cleaning. I purchased a shower cleaner and found my doors are a lot easier to clean. Thick but flexible gloves, a big pile of rags, scouring brush, sturdy mop that wrings, pail large enough for the mop head, and magic erasers are essentials at my house.

You don’t need a special tool or a special cleaner for every task but if it feels overly strenuous, reconsider your tools. A different  cleaner could make it faster and more enjoyable.

Think about the calories burned.
It’s only work if you label it that. Instead, call it exercise! According to Shape.com, you can burn 153 calories for an hour of mopping and 119 calories for a half hour of vacuuming. I estimate I burn about 900 calories with my normal weekly house cleaning, 300 calories with my weekly gardening, 350 calories grocery shopping, and 50 calories washing dishes.

I don’t need to pay for a gym, I’ve got productive things to do around the house! I do the work and feel healthy.

Make it fun.
Of course you can always clean the bathroom karaoke-style or tackle the ironing pile while watching TV. But anything is fun with a friend! Make double portion dinners together with a friend and split the food. Have a gardening day at your house and at her house, letting the kids occupy each other while you weed. Plan a pedicure or nice lunch date on cleaning days so you have something to look forward to afterward. Figure out what energizes you to make the time fly.

Still hate it? Pay someone.
I hate ironing. It’s my least favorite chore. I hate standing for that long. I always get steam in my face and I always iron-in wrinkles in the shoulders. I hate filling the iron with water and waiting for it too cool down to put away. I hate the cord. I hate that I’m terrified that the kids could somehow accidentally get burned. I hate all of it. 

Because I hate it, I’m terrible at it. Admitting it is the first step. The second step is doing some research about who can do it better and reasonably cheap. Turns out our dry cleaner launders shirts for $2 a piece. They press them so expertly the shirts can be worn twice. We did the math and it’s totally worth it. Now my husband drops off his work shirts and I iron occasionally when needed. That’s worth every penny.

In reality, there isn’t always room in the budget to pay for help. Find out how much it would cost and review the budget to see if it’s worth making some changes. Getting a lawn service might be more worth it to you than a weekly mani/pedi. You may want to make coffee at home so that you can hire a spring cleaning service.

What tactics make your housework enjoyable?

Christi Terjesen

Christi Terjesen is the mother of three lively boys in New York. She keeps her sanity through daily walks, expensive wine, and good books. Check out her blog, Mental Stimulation for Moms at christiterjesen.com, and her playground blog, longislandplaygrounds.com.

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