How can we learn to love housework?

"And housework of all kinds is increasingly relegated to the fringes of lives filled with other things. In her book The Time Bind, the sociologist Arlie Hochschild documents the increasing prevalence of homes in which every adult member of the household works full time for pay outside the home and no one bears explicit, dedicated responsibility—even part time—for tasks inside the home.The result, she says, is homes so chaotic and unstructured that all the adults in the household would rather be at work than at home. After all, at work people know what their jobs are and can take a break when they’re done; at home all anyone knows is that it is a mess waiting for someone to clean it up.


A household has to be tended if it is to flourish and grow. Housework is never “done” in the same sense that gardening is never done or that God’s providential involvement in the world is never done. Housework and gardening and God’s providence itself are exercises not in futility but in faithfulness—faithfulness to the work itself, to the people whose needs that work serves, and to the God whose own faithfulness invites our faithful response.


Even now, in a culture in which it is commonly expected that both men and women will work for pay outside the home, some people (usually men) expect to come home from work to rest, and other people (usually women) are expected to come home from work to more work. It is certainly true that the needs that housework serves do not take a day off. Every day, people need to eat. Every day, they need clothes to wear, a roof over their heads, a floor that is clear enough to walk on. But this does not mean that it is one person’s job to labor incessantly to provide these things for everybody else. Sharing the work of the household, for those of us who live in shared households, is a way of allowing all members of the household to keep sabbath, to rest from their labors even as God rests from his."

I don't love housework. How can housework be something that we learn to love?

Again, I keep thinking of Brother Lawrence, here. "He was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts."

I can hear God, "You will pick up that straw, Brother Lawrence, and you will like it. In fact, you will LOVE it!"

That's an existential fidelity, to love what is required of me, that I lack. I'm working on this. Maybe after praying to love housework for ten years I'll love it. A long obedience in the same direction.

I do love cooking, however. Mainly soups. They say that if you can master a simple soup then you can cook anything.

Good thing I like cooking, because I have a weird medical which which makes it so I have to cook nearly all of my own foods. There's an artistry here that I can engage with. But just ordinary straightening and cleaning... As soon as I can I'm off to that coffee shop.

Does anyone out there have any tips for loving housework? Things that have worked for you?

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About the Author

Hi. My name is Jeremiah John. I'm a sf/f writer and activist.

I just completed a dystopian science fiction novel. I run a website which I created that connects farms with churches, mosques, and synagogues to buy fresh vegetables directly and distribute them on a sliding scale to those in need.

In 2003, I spent six months in prison for civil disobedience while working to close the School of the Americas, converting to Christianity, as one does, while I was in the clink.