The meaning in household chores

I am weirdly wired in a way that I love things ordered and clean but am never willing to put in consistent efforts to do so until essential. This is a consequence of my laziness and the paradoxical fortune-misfortune of living in a country like India where the income inequality allows you to hire househelps at discounted wages for taking care of things for you.

I have grown up in a home that taught me to be independent in all aspects of life. But there was hand-holding till the time I left for college. Which meant that I was to focus on one thing and one thing alone—my grades. My parents took care of everything else. This induced the perception that I carry to this day—doing household chores takes away timeshare from more important and growth-inducing things that I might be doing in that time like reading, working out or even relaxing to unwind after a hectic work-week.

It has taken a pandemic to alter my beliefs and to make me realise the joy in the mundane daily chores.

The lockdown meant that everyone in the family needed to step-up and take charge of dispensing household duties which we had conveniently outsourced. Having dabbled with everything from sweeping and mopping to washing clothes and dishes, I have finally found meaning in them (or had to because this doesn’t seem to be going anytime soon).

Structure makes me function better. Putting things in place after use leaves the house neat with plenty of open spaces and the mind mirrors this. It helps me think clearly.

I have found that cleaning a loved one’s utensil or cooking for the family is the purest form of love. It connects me to them in some way. Meanwhile, if someone else reciprocates the same, I feel a great sense of gratitude for being lucky enough to have people in the world who care for me.

Most importantly, these chores have now started to have a therapeutic effect. I go into a quiet meditative zone while doing them and things just happen automatically. Or if I am feeling the urge to make the session productive, I plug in a podcast and come away with a clean pile of dishes, or a decent meal and some learning. Not a bad deal in any way.

This is not to say that I’ll be doing away with hiring a househelp when the situation normalises. But every once in a while, I’ll not shy away from picking up the broom or entering the kitchen for the therapeutic experience, for expressing love and care, and for ensuring the high-performance of my brain.

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