Overcoming the Boredom of Homemaking
I work as a missionary wife in West Africa, which is a life-style that very much resembles the “century gone” homemaking of the past.
* All our meals are cooked from scratch
* All our laundry has to be washed by hand and hung out on the line to dry (including the never ending strand of diapers)
* Our rugs and mats have to be taken outside and shook, beat, or scrubbed.
* Water has to be hauled from the community pump and heated on the stove for washing dishes.
* Bathing is done from a bucket and is only warm if you first heat some water in a pot.
* Drinking water has to first be filtered or boiled to make it safe for consumption.
* Meat has to be brought to a boil every 12 hours to keep it from spoiling (since we don’t have refrigeration of any kind).
With all the extra steps involved in keeping house here, and no modern “time saving” machines to do the work for me, you would think I would be way too busy to feel any sense of “boredom”. But that’s just not the case. There are still a great many times when I find myself feeling “bored” in the role of homemaking.
I know I am not the only one who struggles with this. I have heard several wives comment about the same thing, and have read several different blog post that try to speculate about the reasons behind why we feel “bored” in the role of homemaking.
Many of the articles I have read seem to draw the conclusion that this boredom comes from the fact that we have so many modern machines that are essentially doing the work for us, so we don’t have the same level of satisfaction in the work that we do.
But that can’t be true, because I have NONE of these modern machines helping out with any of my chores, and I still struggle with feeling bored at times. Even with how engaging it is to do everything by hand and to make everything from scratch . . . even though it is so time consuming that one would think I wouldn’t have TIME to be bored . . . I am!
So, after giving it much thought, I just wanted to share with you some of my own ideas about why so many of us struggle with “boredom” in our role as homemakers.
Personally, I think that boredom comes not from the things that make life “too easy” for the modern homemaker, but rather from the reality that each and every day carries the same “mundane” and never ending tasks.
Each day, each week, each hour seems to be a repeat of one I’ve already lived before, with tasks I had already done before, and a lifestyle that continually repeats itself. Life sometimes feels like a broken record that just keeps repeating the same thing over and over again, and I think we can all agree that even the most beautiful symphony can become boring when it is continually being repeated over and over again.
No matter how many times I wash dishes, there will always be more dishes waiting to be washed. No matter how much I cook, everyone is going to be hungry again in a few hours. No matter how many times I sweep the floor, there is always more dirt to be swept up. No matter how many times I change my baby’s diapers I can be sure to find myself changing him again before too long. And even while I’m scrubbing the clothes and hanging them on the line I can see all the clothes that are being worn by the members of our family – even as I’m washing the clothes there are others getting dirty and a new pile of laundry accumulating faster than I can keep up.
Each morning I wake up to the same list of chores to be done that day, and whether or not I check every item off the list I know it will all need to be done again the following day.
With this constant “repeat” of chores that will never fully reach completion, it can be tempting to think that there is little purpose to what we do in a day. And when the work we do begins to lose its purpose, in comes the temptation to start slacking.
“Who but me is going to notice if I do the laundry tomorrow instead of today?”
“I won’t have to haul as much water if I only wash dishes twice a week instead of every day.”
“Do I really need to make bread or can we go without for a while?”
“Does anyone really care if the mats are clean or if the floor gets washed?”
The mundane becomes too familiar and its value becomes lessened in our minds until boredom sets in and we no longer feel any desire to do any of the tasks we know we should do.
But what I do as a homemaker DOES matter! And your work matters too!
If we are going to fight against the boredom of homemaking we need to understand that there really IS purpose in the mundane. That the constant repeats of daily living really DO have great significance, not only in the moment but also in eternity!
You can’t fight the boredom of homemaking by forcing yourself to do MORE work or to try and keep yourself so busy that you won’t “have time” to be bored. I am convinced that to really be effective in overcoming the boredom of homemaking, you need to be “all there”!
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."
Boredom cannot be overcome by done MORE tasks, it can be done by being more FOCUSED in the task you are already doing.
If you’re washing clothes and all the while wishing you could be somewhere else or doing something else, you are not going to enjoy washing clothes and you are not going to be content with this chore. Then, when you realize that the clothes are only going to get dirty again, and you are tempted to think that there is no purpose behind the task you are doing, you have no ammunition to fight against such thoughts and the destructive repercussions of entertaining such thoughts.
On the other hand, if you are fully engaged in your work, not thinking about other things, not wishing to be somewhere else, but really engaging in your task and even looking for creative ways of making the chore enjoyable for you, then you are far more likely to feel satisfied in your role as a homemaker, and when those temptations come along you will have ammunition stored up that you can use to fight against boredom.
What kind of ammunition? Intentionality!
Intentionally seek out ways to overcome boredom. Don’t allow yourself to settle for the same old broken record, but seek out new, exciting, even artistic ways of managing your home and completing your tasks.
Intentionally focus your mind on the PRIZE and all that you seek to accomplish through the task of homemaking. Instead of focusing on the mundane task in front of you, keep the bigger picture in mind.
Sure, you have to do dishes again and again and again . . . but the cleanliness has much to do with keeping your family healthy.
Sure you have to clean the same rooms over and over again . . . but with every item you pick up you are influencing the over all feel of your home which also influences the level of order and peace in the home.
Sure, you have to wash the clothes over and over again . . . but even though members of your family may not take notice or recognize a direct link between the two, they feel the love you share in the way you care for them in every little way.
It all comes down to being focused, being content, and being intentional about pouring yourself fully into the task at hand.
Homemaking is so much less boring when you keep in mind that you’re not doing it for yourself but for others — and ultimately you are doing it for the glory of God!