girl put your records on

Any regular readers will no doubt be aware that I have a natural aversion to housework. This is not to say I don’t do it – I want to live in a pleasant and comforting home, so needs must etc… But generally speaking it’s not top of my list of things I want to do.

So you probably won’t be too surprised to discover that when I do eventually shift my gears into housework mode, I race about at a frenzied pace, trying to get the jobs done and dusted (literally) as quickly as possible.

Now there is nothing wrong with working quickly, if that’s how you work happiest. Also, there may be times when a brisk pace is essential (ie impending guests are looming). Quite often, though, I have no need to rush the housework, other than my in-built urge to get it over with. And I have also noticed that these domestic frenzies don’t leave me feeling satisfied and competent, instead they actually they wind me up. They make me anxious and tense. So not only do I begrudge the work as I’m tearing through it, but when it’s over, I feel slightly glum or more than a little snappish. Hardly domestic bliss.

All this begs the question – what’s the rush?

In my bid to answer this, I recently noticed that whenever I make a mental effort to just calm down and do the job efficiently and well but without the manic racing, I actually feel relaxed and less resentful. There are even (don’t be shocked) fleeting notions of domestic goddessness. Not to get all Zen on you, but when I slo-o-o-o-ow down, I feel more at peace with what I have to do.

As an added bonus, when I ditch the resentment which causes all the rushing in the first place, the workload actually feels lighter (such is the weight of negative energy). Plus I usually do a better job of it and am left feeling much happier and contented afterwards.

There are a number of complex psychological reasons why this is the case but suffice to say this latter scenario is clearly the more enjoyable one. It may not be my natural instinctive method but as I write this, it becomes blindingly obvious that this is how I ought to approach my household chores.

So why don’t I? And if you are of a similar predicament, why don’t you?

Well, I’m still working on that one – we’re complex beings and we don’t always make sense or do what’s best for us. However, what I have discovered is a little technique that can give us a helpful nudge in the happier direction:


Now using music for housework is not a radically new idea (I have it mentioned it before, both here and in my book). However, the general consensus so far has been that you put on some energetic, upbeat music to raise your sluggish mood to the point where you can manage a bit of housework. This is a great tip and works a treat if you need a bit of a kick mop-wards.

But if, like me, you can suffer from too much unwanted energy (ie the frenzied rushing), putting on some loud and lively tunes could actually tip you over into a hyperactive mania. Not fun.

So, for those of us who find ourselves racing through the housework in a desperate bid to move on to something (anything) else, music can still come to our rescue – but we need to reverse the tempo. We need relaxing, calming, soothing music, tunes that will bring us back to a more reasonable speed. We need a musical chill-pill.

This sounds simple, but you may be surprised by how effective this tip can be. For example, when my heart sinks as I survey a trashed kitchen after the latest feeding frenzy, I nip my despair in the bud, click on my chill-out playlist and voila: one much happier bunny!

But don’t take my word for it, the next time you’re busily, anxiously trying to get some chore speedily dispatched (all the while mentally grumbling about how you don’t want to be doing it – or is that just me?), take a moment to put something relaxing on your music system.

I promise you, you’ll return to your jobs with a much calmer kalma. You may even slip into a mood of happy contentment as you experience the joy of being in the moment. (If even I can find momentary happiness in mundane maintenance, there is hope for anyone.)

So, I hope you’ll try out my theory and let a little easy listening reduce your housework blues. (If you like, you can check out my chill-out playlist on spotify.) Let me know if it works for you!


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PS I concocted this blog as I was restoring order to my sons’ bedroom (a job that ranks quite highly on the I’d Rather Not Be Doing This List) Yet, once I put on my favourite chill-out tunes, I didn’t mind the work quite so much. I even managed to raise a smile at my 5-year-old’s attempt at tidying. (Or rather redistributing). Plus, I was inspired to put fingers to keyboard which also goes to prove one of my previous theories that housework is fertile ground for creative inspiration.

So there you have it, Zen housework.

Which reminds me, I need to get back to the boys’ bedroom, with all its ‘potential for enlightenment’ – I may be some time…. 


Photo credit: Robert Proksa at SXC