Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The repetitiveness of childcare and housework

I was talking to a friend recently and mentioning to her my ongoing frustration with the never-ending cyclical work of mothers/caregivers. You cook food, then it is eaten and you have to cook again.You do laundry and then you wash it again, you wash dishes, sweep the floor, and then you need to do it all again the next day. Nothing lasts. You get the picture.
What I love about knitting (on a side note- I am almost done with a grey sweater coat for myself and I think it looks really nice. Will post pics when it's done) is that it's permanent. At the end of the day or week, I can hold up something concrete, a sleeve perhaps, and say "I made this."
But my friend had an interesting insight, that I had not thought of. She agreed that many parts of housework/childcare are mundane and repeat ad nausea. But there are moments and memories that last beyond that. You can host a big Purim seuda for 35 people, and while the food may be gone, you will still have the satisfaction of having had a delicious and successful meal. You will  remember the fun that was had and the people who enjoyed your home. The same is true for the birthday cake you make that your daughter loves and shows her that you care, or the many times you wake up in the middle of then night to comfort your baby.
Of course this cannot be applied to every dirty diaper that we change. Much of the work we do really is mundane and repetitive. But it's important to remember that all the little, at times annoying, tasks add up to a bigger picture. They are all part of the process of investing in your home and family and becoming closer with your kids through everyday interactions.In this way you truly are the caregiver of your home, the one who gives care and love to all members of the household through the myriad of things you do every day. Even if you have to redo them again tomorrow. And the day after that.
And while you are busy taking care of everyone and everything, don't forget to give yourself some care and love every once in a while- preferably daily. Somehow we always put ourselves last. So go for coffee, read a book, or lock yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes of quiet time. It's the least you deserve. After all, you are creating memories, love and little people.
An example of the messes we deal with here


  1. true about the knitting-- but then what if it gets a bad pull, or irreparably damaged? and you have to knit a new one? you still enjoyed knitting the first, and if you really like knitting, then chances are you'll be ok knitting several. similarly, if you enjoy cooking, enjoy having your kid look clean and neat, then most of the time, you may not feel so harried about it. i think what you said is true-- it's so important to take time for yourself, to "recharge"- literally, so that you don't feel so dragged down by the monotony... and it need not be monotonous!! find ways to spruce things up and change up the routine...

  2. Well said. Then again we talk about this all the time :). I think when I can keep the focus that I do the work to give and not expect anything back (either a thank you or a kid clenaing up their toys out of recognition) it helps.