How to Learn to Enjoy the Process + Find Value in Work

Inside: A look a our modern desire to hurry up and get it over with cost us. And the value of returning to “the hard way”….just because.

When we lived in the old house on this property, we had a dishwasher. That is, until a rodent chewed through some kind of water tube or wire, and then…. we just had a built-in dish drying rack.

And suddenly, something that was so easy became a big production. I agonized over whether every spoon was worth the use since I would have to hand wash it. I bought paper plates for the kids. I considered styrofoam coffee cups, but instead just rinsed out my coffee mug and ate my cereal out of it to avoid doing another dish.

But little by little, I realized I did not hate hand-washing dishes as much as I thought I did. I enjoyed the smell of the dish soap, the feel of the hot water. I enjoyed getting out a clean towel to dry them, and then putting them away, instead of having them waiting in the dishwasher to be unloaded. They seemed cleaner and shinier. There was a sense of satisfaction when the sink was emptied, and then the sink got cleaned and dried. And it is hard to hate a task that you do every day.

I had learned to enjoy the process.

broom on cabin porch in fall.

Do our modern appliances and gadgets really help us?

There are a lot of things in life, especially in the domestic sphere, that are made out to be terrible chores. Such terrible chores, in fact, that either someone is hired to do them or a machine is purchased to do them. Sweeping and shaking out rugs has become vacuuming, and then creepy robot vacuums or cleaning ladies.

And even though the invention of vacuums was supposed to help homemakers, cleaning times actually increased.  People installed wall-to-wall carpeting, and they had no choice but to vacuum them. Standards of cleanliness increased, and people expected spotless floors. The vacuum did not make women’s lives easier at all.

To be honest, I vacuum my floors. I never sweep anymore. I have never shaken out an area rug in my life. But I wonder…was it maybe not so terrible a job? Maybe it was something fun to do on a sunny day and made the kids laugh. Perhaps after you were done, you rearranged the furniture a bit and felt good about yourself? Maybe not. I don’t know.

More traditional methods of doing things were definitely more work

Consider something like heating your home. Most people today use electricity, oil, or gas. We heat almost exclusively with wood, and sometimes it feels like it consumes our life. For example, this weekend we are going to visit my parents and will be returning with a huge trailer full of oak from a tree they just had taken down.

winter scene in country.

We are always on the hunt for more, even though we have plenty of trees. You can’t just keep cutting them down forever. Then it will need to be split and dried. Then stacked. Then as winter approaches, some will need to be re-split into small kindling pieces. We will start hoarding newspaper. We gather sticks all year long and put them in the old house to dry. And for all this work, we have not started a single fire yet. Or cleaned one out.

And yet that work could be its own reward.

But if I could somehow magically heat my home to 75 degrees all winter for free, I would not. I don’t just enjoy the heat and the ambiance. I enjoy waking up on a dark and chilly morning, setting the logs just right in the back, watching the kindling catch and adding wood bit by bit. I enjoy polishing the glass after scooping out cold ashes, and then restarting an afternoon fire after the sun has weakened. It’s not just the beauty of the fire itself, it’s also the work that is enjoyable. Even the splitting can be fun in its own way. My husband does it with a friend, and they spend a few days in the spring splitting and stacking wood for that winter, going to each other’s houses to help each other. 

Does this mean all work at home is fun?

Of course not. But instead of rushing through it, maximizing efficiency, just to move on to the next thing…why not enjoy the process?

Our society loves to push the idea that paid work is the most valuable. Making money is supposed to be rewarding, never mind the actual work that you are doing.

woodstove glowing in cozy kitchen.

Then there are hobbies, which generally cost money rather than being productive but are done for sheer enjoyment. Society seems to be okay with these as well.

But being at home, tidying up the house, making dinner, polishing furniture… well, no one seems to see much value in that. Aren’t there machines to do all that for you? Shouldn’t you be heating up a frozen meal and turning on your robot vacuum so you can go make some money or do something fun?

No. Start to see your necessary tasks as things can be done well, with love, and see how they can bring joy to your life. Don’t listen to the world that tells you that domestic tasks are one thing and having fun is another. The work is part of the reward.

So let your small tasks be enjoyable instead of dreading them or rushing them.

For example, why get a gift already wrapped when you could choose the right paper and ribbon, wrap it neatly, and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done? Why turn on the air conditioning constantly when you could savor the routine of opening the windows at night, closing them when the day heats up, drawing the curtains against the sun, and reopening after a thunderstorm has cooled things off? Enjoy a sunny morning hanging up your laundry, the feel of bread dough being shaped in your hands, the perfect and shiny surface of your cast iron once it is scrubbed and seasoned.

If you are a homemaker, things like this make up a large portion of your life. Don’t hurry it away, and fail to see how enjoyable things like this can be.

Enjoy the process.

Just now, I came back from getting my mail down the long gravel road.

My neighbor was across the street, sweeping his driveway. I gave him the silent neighbor wave while thinking to myself this guy is a nut. Isn’t it going to rain soon? Why does it matter if there are bits of leaves visible to the neighbors on your driveway? Couldn’t he have used a leaf blower?

He didn’t return my wave. He was under the shade of a tree, admiring his handiwork.

I get it, my friend. You weren’t sweeping that driveway for me. Just enjoying the process.

open windows in bedroom  on sunny day.
How to Learn to Enjoy the Process + Find Value in Work

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  1. Thank you so much for this article Amy. It really puts things into perspective! I needed this and I pray I will put it into practice as it is great advice!

  2. The right perspective makes all the difference to how you feel about things.
    This is a great post about changing your attitude towards chores so you enjoy them.
    Thank you.

  3. Thank you for this!

    We are trying to start some new routines, because I am doing housework for a lot more time than I ought to be. The whole “clean as you go” thing doesn’t really work for my particular brain pathways.

    Anyway, one of the new routines involves having to hand wash some (though not all) of the dishes and I’ve been dreading that a little. But really. It doesn’t take that long, and I like that I immediately have the dish back in my arsenal!

  4. Thank you so much for the refreshing view on modern “conveniences” which really take up so much more time in the end.

  5. While I love the sentiment, I think the main reason that household tasks feel so hard is because Ive constantly got someone saying Mom! Mom!Mom! or needing something or crying or fighting. Im on complete sensory overstimulation all the time and feel like household tasks are just that much harder because of it.

    1. I get it! 💕💕💕 Hugs to you and sometimes things are just hard and there’s no dancing around it. It gets better (or at least it did for me.)

  6. I used to love the modern conveniences that vacuums and dishwashers brought us. But now as I gravitate towards a slower lifestyle, I enjoy the process of hand washing dishes, for all reasons stated in your blog. I love sweeping the floors. I love to make my own DIY surface cleaners, and reuse plastic containers and organize. We have a fan with a remote control and I still get up and turn the fan off and on (most of the time), and our TV volume is adjusted manually as we don’t have a remote for the TV itself. We have not bought one yet as it’s no problem to get up and move around – I use it as a time to stretch and move my legs. And I know if I ever *need* it, those modern conveniences will be there.

  7. Awesome change in perspective happening over here! I’m an empty nester, refeathering the nest for babies in the foster care system. I’m excited to have another chance to do the homemaking gig with this new way of looking at the tasks of making this house into a home.

  8. Thank you it makes you look at house keeping a little easier. I work and when I get home I dread 2 have to clean house reading this makes me look at it a little different

  9. I love this! As a young wife, at times it’s easy to get caught up in the “chore” because I’m “the wife”. But this is a beautiful reminder to slow down life and savor each moment our Creator gave us. To honor Him with our time, effort, and blessings He has given us. Thank you for putting me back into my place oh so graciously.

  10. Love this note of encouragement.
    As I am able and blessed to be able to hang my clothes on my pulley system clothesline, heat my cast iron and re-oil them before putting them away, gather eggs from our chickens and wash our dishes by hand. It is always good to be reminded to take a moment to be thankful for being able to have chores. Great reminder

  11. Love this!! I get happily lost in puttering around my house and enjoying the process. If I put it in my mind beforehand, to enjoy the “chore” I always end up really relaxing and feeling accomplished.

    1. Well said!! How easy it is to become humdrum and forget why I cook, clean and other tasks. I chuckled about your dishwasher. Ours was out for about a year, and now we try just using it in the weekends. It’s nice to appreciate the small thing.