Categorized | Features, Laurie's Scribbles

Housework As Therapy: It’s Small Things, Nicely Done


During these turbulent times, housework gives Laurie a sense of control, feeling of beauty and completion.

By Laurie Stone

In these turbulent times, there’s one thing I do daily that keeps me on track and gives comfort. I turn to it, whether in the mood or not. And almost always, I feel better afterward.

It’s an odd thing to find solace in. Some of you will think I’m crazy. Some of you will understand. It’s … housework.

Yes, you read that right. Housework.

I recently heard a poem by writer Elizabeth Gilbert called “Small Things, Nicely Done.” It tells how completing small tasks throughout the day — making the bed, wiping off the kitchen counter and straightening up some messy throw pillows — helps us feel better.

And that’s what housework is all about — small things, nicely done. In fact, for me, cleaning gives three big gifts…

A Feeling of Control

Like everyone in our world, I sometimes feel there are too many problems — big problems — that I can’t solve. I have little or no sway, say or influence over anything in the larger realm. But there is one place I do have definite (if not, dictatorial) control — my home. Every day I can choose how my abode looks — messy or neat, full of clutter or everything in its place, even what’s playing on Alexa while I put the dishes away. I take pride in this one little patch of planet Earth that’s mine.

A Feeling of Beauty

I had more tolerance for messiness when I was young. But as I came into adulthood, I began to seek a beautiful environment. As I grow older, I need it even more. I love coming into a clean kitchen each morning. I need to turn down a well-made bed each night and have fresh flowers in a vase. I like empty wastebaskets and clean bathrooms and dusted furniture. I know smart, easy-going people who roll their eyes at this — I’m married to one — and I get it. But we are who we are.

A Feeling of Completion

The good (and bad part) of houseworkis that it never stops. That kitchen floor needs sweeping … again. The laundry requires endless folding. Dinner must be made. And some days (especially when I had young children and never sat down), I thought of it as an endless burden. But now I have more home time, thanks to the Pandemic, and see more clearly how these “small things, nicely done” give comfort.

Maybe in the end, all of life is an endless series of “small things, nicely done.” Even the big, scary events — going to the doctor, a long plane ride, meeting a big group of new people — is about breaking things down into bitesize pieces and doing our best.

I know some will think I’m crazy for turning to housework for comfort and strength. But some of you will get it.

There’s something soothing in making things nice.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog,”Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

4 Responses to “Housework As Therapy: It’s Small Things, Nicely Done”

  1. Beth Havey says:

    Okay, okay, I’m getting off the computer right now. TIME TO DO MY CHORES.

  2. Patricia D'Ascoli says:

    Enjoyed reading this piece. Agree that it is all about feeling good about completing all of the tasks that comprise our lives. Don’t think twice; do them nice!

  3. Diane says:

    You’ve made me realize something:
    It’s amazing, the calm feeling I get just sitting in a neat and tidy home! Conversely, a messy space makes me jittery and unsettled. My fingers itch to start cleaning.
    I never realized before that these are good things!
    Brilliant, Laurie!

  4. Susan F says:

    With more of us spending more time in our homes these days, a clean and uncluttered space seems more important than ever.


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