Housework may not assist creativity for everyone. Some people tell me they thrive on chaos.
For me housework is itself a creative activity. I find it very satisfying. Every week, when my house is clean and pretty, I feel as if I’ve created a glimpse of a peaceful paradise.
At first glance, it might seem absurd to put housework and creativity in the same sentence. Many people regard housework as drudgery. They put it off. It can cause arguments. But when my house is clean and orderly, I become strangely peaceful and happy. The effect of a clean house is the same as that of a good day’s writing.
Thursday is always housework day at our house. There’s no reason for Thursday. It’s simply ‘the day’! Left to my own uninterrupted devices, I enjoy doing the major cleaning tasks in a few hours set aside for the purpose. Making the bed, washing the dishes and minor tidying keeps the house humming along for the rest of the week.
I once had six kids under eight The housework was a full-time, totally unsatisfying occupation. It was never, ever finished. As soon as I’d cleaned one mess another, even worse, appeared. A bit like the evil spirits in the Bible, really. I struggled with that for a few years.
When the children were older and I went back to paid work, it became easier to manage the housework. I became more organised. My children were mostly good about doing their chores. The load was shared, although my daughter Anne took far more responsibility than her brothers.
It is widely acknowledged that making a garden is an act of creativity. If that is so, then why not also housework? Housework gets bad press. It is the butt of many jokes. Perhaps it is not so much the actual housework that is the problem but the ‘shoulds’ that we bring to bear on it.
Housework may be an act of creativity in itself. And for some people it is also necessary for creativity. I enjoy the stories about the Australian writer Elizabeth Jolley who would never start to write before she had done all the chores.
Seven reasons why housework is good for writers and other creative people
- While we may not be able to control many events in our lives, we can create order in our surroundings. ‘It’s not the tragedies that kill us,’ Dorothy Parker once said, ‘it’s the messes’.
- Housework can become one of rituals that restores our sense of equilibrium and leaves us free for new ideas.
- An orderly background is the perfect foil for the chaos of creativity.
- A clean, uncluttered home comforts, nurtures and sustains the people who live there.
- A clean home invites small acts of creativity – a vase of flowers, a new cushion or pictures rearranged in a more pleasing pattern. A beautiful house is one where there are pleasant vistas that add up to a pleasing whole.
- Performing repetitive tasks stimulates the brain to creativity in unrelated areas. As Agatha Christie is reported as saying, ‘The best time to plan a book is when you are doing the dishes’.
- When the housework’s done, there is less to distract the writer or artist from their other work. It’s difficult to think clearly when we are surrounded by clutter, chaos and confusion.
- Housework can be profoundly meditative.
Please share your ideas about housework and whether you think it can assist creativity.