Since my Mother had ironed for my family my entire life, give or take some time at university and away from the nest…i’d probably ironed only a handful of times when I retired from the chore.My retirement was announced as the fashion world had moved on and I had discovered ways around shirts, non iron fabrics and frankly it was dull and something I didn’t wish to do. Mr F kindly offered to help out, on the odd occasion that a fitted shirt was required and life went on…
This Christmas we had a wonderful family break, shared with friends and loved ones popping by. I somehow lived in the kitchen, in a cooking and washing up frenzy of champagne flutes, party platters and way too many plates in a variety of sizes. As a consequence my marigolds put up a good fight but my nails have entered 2017 fragile and a little worse for wear. However, if you think I’m moaning then you’d be mistaken – I realised there is something cathartic and hugely enjoyable about the mundane tasks life brings. Washing a set of Champagne flutes and then seeing them sparkle on the side board gave me a sense of achievement, the princess in me just likes to make things sparkle!
As normal life resumed the dishwasher has taken over and somehow I missed popping on my marigolds, listening to tunes and kitchen dancing while letting my mind wander…and thats when I realised that washing up was a super power. It allowed me during the chaos of Christmas to escape into my imagination. It also gave me satisfaction – and in turn a burst of happiness.
Further research ensued and yesterday I came out of ironing retirement. I only did about six items and once again retreated to the sanctuary of my kitchen to listen to music and ‘just iron’…I finished the task buzzing with accomplishment and happy. Not only do chores give a sense of responsibility to our children, they increase our pride and resourcefulness.
Then I did some hardcore research and found out that there is a connection to the lack of mundane tasks we have to do these day (mainly thanks to technology )and the increase in poor mental health. Now, Im not naive to think that all mental health stems from a lack of ironing, if this were the case the NHS would be handing out cleaning applicances instead of prescriptions. But for a general sense of happiness, a simple connection seemed to work for me.
Basic chores can reduce anxiety, lower stress and tasks you can do together with your partner can give you essential ‘talk time’ leading to stronger relationships – there was a study in 2015 that suggested that doing mundane DIY tasks together or washing up regularly meant you had a better sex life. Im pessimistic with this data and think its probably something the couples in 2015 would rather do than paint a wall.
Cutting the grass can actually make you more joyful. This is down to a chemical released in the freshly cut blades of grass that make you relax. I have to say I do find the smell of cut grass wonderful and it does make me relax – but as for pushing the lawn mower, I’m currently serving a life ban, as my only attempt to use our petrol driven motor nearly had me in the pond.
Making your bed is meant to ‘give you a positive boost’. Ive always made my bed in the mornings, so may not notice how this makes me feel – although I do get frustrated when I’m off to work and Mr F is still snuggled, I’m pretty sure this is down to jealousy of him still being in it and not my desire to make my bed?
Now to get a little more serious…despite mocking the research slightly, I can see its worth. A sense of pride in something that boosts your positivity. A clean house does make me happy…sure I could get a similar boost by coming home and finding it was done by a cleaner that I hired or a fairy that visited – but it isn’t the same as doing it yourself, the sense of pride is missing.
Before you all comment on how ‘in an act of kindness’ I can clean your homes this year, I absolutely couldn’t take the joy factor away from you. So, find pleasure in the simple task, use dusting to escape into a world of magic – after all it worked out beautifully for Cinderella.