How To Be Domestic

These days it seems as though we're all trying to make our lives a little bit simpler. It's probably a hangover from the excess of the early aughts or a backlash to technology and the constant influx of information.

Because sometimes, it's all a little too much. Anyone else feel anxiety about not doing enough on social media? Or not replying quickly to a comment, or having varied content that properly represents your "brand"? Me too.

Regardless of the cause, we all seem to have collectively decided that we're going to simplify as a way of dealing with too much of something. We're all looking for more flexibility in our work schedules, less clutter in our homes, and more simplicity all around. We read Marie Kondo, and we talk about decluttering and minimalism a lot. We've gotten a little obsessive about it, despite some (good, interesting) arguments in favor of clutter. We're now having a lot more conversations about the ways in which we approach our domestic lives than we used to.

This is where household work enters the picture. Just like clutter and the accumulation of "stuff" tends to crowd our physical lives, household work and chores  ("life admin")  like paperwork, bills, mail, dishes, laundry, dusting, etc. have a way of cluttering up our mental and emotional lives. 

When it comes to chores of the domestic sort, I've found that the way we deal with them often mirrors the way we deal with clutter, and that by approaching our domestic work in the same way, we can help clear up our mental lives by removing some of that excess.

Personally, chores don't bother me like they used to. Thanks to my slant towards minimalism and a focus on the intentional I've learned how to take care of chores, household work, and that endless "life admin" in a way that works for me.

Perhaps my favorite thing in the world and the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is just getting things done. I've learned that the best way for me to get through a chore is to deal with it immediately and without question – to go through the mail, act on anything that requires action, and recyle the rest – and I should mention that this all happens the very moment the mail comes in from the mailbox. To do the dishes as they're dirtied cook, hang up the clothes as soon as they're taken them off – that sort of thing. I have a friend who even cleans her apartments on Friday night with her husband. That might sound depressing but it's a genius idea – that way, they can wake up on Saturday in a clean home with no chores to do.

By approaching domestic life in this way – dealing with the task, or piece of clutter, that's caushing you anguish, it's suddenly no longer a problem. Suddenly it's gone. 

While this works for me, I'm fully aware that it may not work for you. Still, there is one more key to surviving the domestic world, and that's this:

Find a chore that you love to do and embrace it fully.

Case in point: My favorite chore is laundry. I love doing it. I love it so much that one of the reasons I enjoy working from home is because of the fact that I get to do laundry whenever I want. If I'm stuck when writing, or feel like I'm procrastinating during my workday, I do laundry. And you would be the same way, I'd argue, but first you have to find a chore that gives you satisfaction for whatever reason. Find the chore, then own it, make it your thing, and suddenly you'll find a little more happiness in your domestic life.

David Sedaris embraces the chore. He likes the satisfaction of picking up trash off the street near his home in West Sussex. So does my friend Jaime, who likes ironing sheets. And so does my sister, who is a laundry fan just like me.

This is how you become good at domestic life. How you remove some of that extra mental clutter from your day. Just like anything else (food, sleep, exercise, work) finding what works best for you and following through on it on a consistent basis will make your life easier and happier.

What about you? Any chores that you love? Is it the satisfaction of vacuuming? The look of a dust-free home? That feeling when all the dishes are in their place? I'd love to hear what your domestic "thing" is, and how you approach the mental clutter that comes with household work. Let me know!