I Started Romanticizing My Chores to Keep Up with Housework — And It’s Been Working Like a Charm

published Feb 21, 2022
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There are many people who enjoy housework — but I have never been one of them. To me, housework has always felt like a burden that takes valuable time away from the activities I would rather be doing. But housework will always need to be done, and most of us will spend a significant portion of our lives doing it. And since I like having a clean house, I knew that my relationship with housework needed to change. Last year, I decided to stop resenting all of my household chores and, instead, I attempted to find a sense of enjoyment in them. 

The “romanticize your life” trend has been circling around TikTok and YouTube for a few years now. The trend encourages people to find beauty in the ordinary moments of their lives. Having always been drawn to the more romantic parts of life, I wondered whether the same principles could be applied to housework. It turns out they can. Here’s how I started romanticizing my chores.

1. I stocked up on beautiful cleaning supplies. 

To romanticize something is to make it seem more attractive or interesting than it really is — and my cleaning supplies weren’t fooling anyone. The plastic laundry basket was broken in three places, the clothespins were slowly disintegrating in the sun, and the sweeping brush was a particularly violent shade of green. Did I think that a prettier laundry basket would really help me enjoy doing the laundry? Like a set of new workout clothes can inspire you to exercise, I had a strong suspicion that it might. 

I started scouring thrift shops and online stores for beautiful cleaning supplies and picked up everything from wooden sweeping brushes to collections of glass spray bottles. I replaced the plastic laundry basket with a gorgeous French wicker one and even substituted my clothing hangers for prettier wood and fabric models. As I replaced my unattractive cleaning tools with more aesthetically pleasing items, I found myself — for possibly the first time in my life — feeling excited about cleaning. 

2. I added more sensual moments. 

Romance is also a sensory experience, and I decided to try and incorporate some more sensual moments into my cleaning routine. Armed with a new set of stylish cleaning supplies, I began adding essential oils to homemade products and breathed in the soothing scents of eucalyptus and lavender as I scrubbed the bathroom on a sunny Saturday morning. I folded the laundry with my favorite music playing and took to chopping the vegetables outside in the sun with a glass of cold white wine. It didn’t take long for these routine chores to transform into a series of small daily rituals and become some of the more nourishing moments of my day. 

3. I made an effort to slow down.

Before I started romanticizing my chores, I would always try and get the housework done as quickly as possible. But now I try to slow down more. I’ve found that I enjoy the process of hand-washing the dishes in a sink of hot soapy water — a surprisingly popular mindfulness activity — more than loading and unloading the dishwasher. And, similarly, I get more pleasure from hanging out my clothing in the sun than I do from using the dryer. 

There’s no arguing with the convenience of modern technology, and I’m never going to be churning my own butter or even washing my clothes by hand, but slowing down with a few chores gives me the chance to notice the more enjoyable parts of the process. It stops me from frantically rushing through my day and gives me a chance to breathe a little. And while I might have a little less free time afterwards, I get a lot more from the time I spend doing it. 

4. I changed my mindset. 

Changing my mindset about housework was a difficult but necessary part of finding some enjoyment in these tasks. I started by taking some inspiration from my grandmother, someone who enjoys cleaning and has a naturally romantic attitude toward domestic tasks. For her, housework has never been a burden, but a way to take care of her belongings, her home, and the people she cares about. I remember her always making the time to do a load of our laundry when my parents were at work and teaching me to dust the tiny glass perfume bottles that sat on her dressing table. The ever-growing pile of clothing that lives on my bedroom floor contrasts greatly to my grandmother’s clothing that travels hot off the ironing board and straight onto the hangers in her wardrobe.

Now, when I’m feeling frustrated with housework, I take a moment to reframe my thinking. I try to look at folding my partner’s clothing as an act of love and tidying a room as a way to make a space look and feel beautiful. And when I go to shove a ball of scrunched-up clothing into my wardrobe, I remind myself of the respect my grandmother has for her belongings. 

5. I remember the little things.

Every now and then, when we’re falling in love, traveling somewhere new, or achieving something we have worked hard for, life can feel really beautiful. And while these moments are wonderful, they are also fleeting, and our lives are made up of more ordinary moments than extraordinary ones. But finding the beauty in the quiet everydayness of your life can remind you that these small moments are important too. 

I didn’t realize there was so much room for beauty and romance in something as ordinary as doing the laundry or washing the dishes, and I didn’t know I was missing out on small moments of joy and pleasure by continuing to resent these tasks. I might not ever love the idea of spending a Saturday morning cleaning the bathroom, but I can now find a real sense of enjoyment in the task. And while housework doesn’t necessarily mean a lot to me, the time I spend doing it does. 

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: I Started Romanticizing My Chores to Keep Up with Housework — And It Worked Like a Charm