By Christina Katz
It’s not a secret that I dislike housekeeping. Relatives have come right out and suggested to my face hiring someone without apologizing for their directness. But I look at this as more of a sign of their intolerance for our wabi-sabi lifestyle than anything else.
I’m an author, teacher, and speaker and my husband is a teacher and theater director. Our careers require a certain amount of creative immersion that we happen to enjoy. I realize our relaxed lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but over the years in the class I teach especially for moms, I’ve become something of a mess evangelist.
The way it happened is that the moms in my class kept saying they didn’t have time to write. And finally, after tossing out all of my other suggestions, I threw down the gauntlet.
Stop cleaning so much. Lower your expectations about a perfectly orderly home. Ask for and expect more help with household chores from the whole family. Is it still a radical idea, even in the new millennium, that the “woman of the house” is not 100 percent responsible for the cleanliness of the house?
That time to write has got to come from somewhere.
Often women who are home raising kids but are not making a financial contribution feel stuck. They want to start, for example, a writing career from home but their husbands don’t want them to try. They don’t want their wives to make the investment of time and money into becoming a professional who works from home, even though writing is the lowest-investment business you can start-up.
Notice I didn’t say writing is a no-investment business. Rather it’s a low-investment business. Now I think we all know where I stand on this idea. I have had students sneak my class onto a credit card without telling their spouse until the class was over. And though, I don’t especially enjoy being privy to such intimate couple dynamics, we get the picture. Women want to learn skills that can help them make money from home so they can have the best of both worlds. What’s wrong with that?
So here are some tips for those who not only want to write to avoid housework, but those who need to avoid housework in order to write:
1. Eschew conformity. Don’t confuse your value as a human being with how clean your home is. I have known some fabulous women who couldn’t cook or clean worth a darn. And if anything, this fact only makes them more charming and memorable to me.
2. Make housekeeping a team sport. Crank up the music. Give everyone a job. Tackle the worst of it for a couple of hours on the weekends. It’s amazing how much a family can get done when everyone works together. Even very young children love to dust, squirt windows and mirrors and sweep. Get them their own special cleaning tools so they really can contribute.
3. Hurry up and get paid for writing. The longer you drag your feet and dilly-dally, the more skepticism you’ll be confronted with from others. In all of my years of teaching, I have to say that I have encountered many women who seem to want a guarantee before they commit. I can’t give them that. But I can almost guarantee that if you don’t commit, you won’t succeed.
4. Read the book, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder–How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman. Or listen to it on audio while you clean up a little bit between juggling kids and writing gigs.
Viva tolerable messiness! Now if I could only get our dogs to pull their weight around here, I’d be all set.
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.
Reasons to Write: Write to Avoid HouseworkPublished April 24, 2009 Christina Katz , Reasons to Write 15 Comments
Tags: writing and housework