Buying more, doing less

It occurred to me, as I was stuffing laundry into my state-of-the-art washing machine earlier this week, that I do almost nothing around the house. When I think about my grandmothers – both of them, really, but particularly my mother’s mother who lived in England – and what they had to do to take care of their homes and their families, I am a complete slacker in comparison. This is not in and of itself a bad or good thing, but I believe that it has had a negative effect on my level of connection and commitment to the rest of my life.

Examples:

1. I do not clean my house, I have a cleaning service that comes in every other week and dusts, vacuums, changes sheets, mops floors, cleans bathrooms, takes all of the trash to the garbage can in the garage, and puts new bin liners in all of the trash cans throughout the house. If I forget to put one of our dirty dishes in the dishwasher – another example of a chore I do not do! – then the cleaning people wash that item, too.

2. I do not iron my or my husband’s clothes, everything that needs ironing goes to the cleaners to be laundered and ironed.

3. I do not cook. Every single meal that my husband I eat is cooked by a restaurant, picked up at a fast food establishment, or a microwaveable dinner picked up at a store. Every single meal. I never, ever use my kitchen for anything except storing prepackaged dinners in the refrigerator, microwaving said dinners, making coffee (with a single cup, drop in cup coffee maker), and feeding the Pug. Oh, and it also serves as a horizontal surface for my husband’s clutter collection, unfortunately.

4. I do not change my own sheets (see #1 above).

5. I do not grow my own vegetables. My grandmothers both had huge gardens that provided all of the vegetables they used for feeding their families.

It is my belief that my decision to outsource all of these homemaking activities has created a fundamental disconnection between me and my home. This disconnect does not help with my desire to lead a healthy life, either. If I can check out of my home then it’s just that much easier to check out of my body and my responsibility for taking proper care of both of these important pieces of living a happy, healthy, harmonious life.

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And what’s possibly worse is the fact that I have replaced taking care of myself and my home with shopping and acquiring more things; this is not something that either of my grandmothers ever did. The amount of clothes in my closet is insane. Really, seriously, and deeply insane. Clothes, shoes, handbags – more than any one person should ever need. My grandmothers were both beautifully turned out at all times but they had about a week’s worth of clothes whereas I could go 3-4 weeks without repeating an outfit. Why?

I don’t have answers at this point but I wanted to come here to start a conversation while I ruminate a little longer. If you have thoughts or just want to share your own deep, dark secret, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Comments

  1. Hmmm … have to admit your lifestyle is a bit shocking to me. I can’t imagine never cooking a meal. Wow. You mean you don’t buy fresh veggies and make salads? You don’t steam veggies for side dishes? You don’t read recipes and then try them out? Everything is pre-made and nuked? What about your forays to the farmer’s market? Don’t you prepare those foods yourself?

    I get the cleaning service, and I get not doing hub’s laundry (I do my own, but my husband is on his own there). But not cooking?

    Yep, there is definitely a disconnect there. And, yeah, it probably does contribute to your difficulty in coming to terms with your health and life style.

    You’re a very smart cookie, Denise.

    This is hard for me to believe …

    • I’m afraid it’s all very true. While I do steam the occasional farmers market vegetable acquisition, the only appliances in my kitchen that are ever used are the refrigerator/freezer, microwave, and dishwasher. I don’t know why but I just stopped wanting to cook just before I met my husband. Possibly it’s because the things I was good at cooking were so carb-packed that I couldn’t do them anymore due to my diabetes? Not sure. In any case, it’s something I’m thinking about and looking at whether I want to change enough to do something about it (instead of just complaining).

  2. MissLisa says:

    wow… I must admit I’m a bit gobsmacked… I’d say you’ve hit the nail on the head Denise, disassociation from your house is either a symptom or a reaction to other issues. I’ve got lots of other things i want to say but I’m afraid they’ll come across and criticism even though they would’n't be meant like that … what I will say is, if you’re going to change any of those points, please don’t try and change them ALL at once :) – maybe start with making toast in the kitchen and changing your own sheets? Be kind to yourself :)

    • Hi Lisa,

      First, thank you for your honesty and your comment – it’s OK to be brutally honest here because I need the input. Next let me say that my plan – such as it is, which is “unformed” if I’m being kind or non-existent if I’m not – will start small. My habits have been built and reinforced over time and they’re going to need small steps while I chip away at them (even if what I really want is to just blast them all away at once).

      Thanks again,
      Denise

  3. I read the blog of a lady http://tracyrif.blogspot.com/ (that’s her old blog, where she really talks about losing 100+ pounds). One of the things she says is that a big part (for her) of losing weight was taking responsibility for her own health – which meant cooking all of her own food! She went from eating out multiple times a day to not eating out for 2 years!

    That’s an extreme example, but that’s what it took for her. I know for me, cooking our meals is extremely important. My husband has seen a dramatic improvement in his blood sugar in less than a month, and a lot of it is eating healthy foods cooked at home.

    I’m not saying you can’t be successful your way, but it sounds like your current lifestyle isn’t bringing you what you want it to in terms of health and connectedness.

    Good luck!

    • I’ve been following your husband’s progress with pleasure via your blog – it’s always good to see someone newly diagnosed with diabetes getting things under control without medication. (That’s no longer an option for me but I’ve been diabetic for about 15 years now and it’s a progressive disease even when well controlled.) It’s not that I don’t like to cook, it’s more that all of the things I used to cook for myself (and lose weight doing so) are chock full of carbohydrates, so I need to completely change my routine AND my palate. It won’t happen overnight or all at once but I must make a start somewhere.

      Denise

      • I literally threw pasta in the trash. Yes, it has absolutely meant some major overhauling in what I cook. But I’ve tried to look upon it as an adventure into a new land. :-)

  4. Funny you should write about this today. Over the weekend I was contemplating exchanging some of my exercise time in exchange for cleaning my own home. I am of a mind that cleaning my own home, if only for a while, would help me establish a connection with the home. I’m in the process of moving in to a new (to me, anyway) home. I’m horrified at the “stuff” I owned. While at first it was a struggle, it became easier and easier to let go. I think you’re on to something. Go with it! Be kind. Take it slow. I’ll agree it’s all a symptom of a deeper issue you’ve been chasing for years . . . . Might I recommend Brene Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection”.

    • Thank you so much – for the kind, supportive comment, and for the book recommendation (I’m going to download it to my iPad and start on it this weekend after I finish the book I’m in the middle of). I cleaned the new house (now four years old) by myself in a few hours each Saturday before the husband came home from Japan but that just doesn’t seem to work for us now that he’s home and we have a very active/needy dog in the house. I know in my heart that it’s all interconnected and that only by taking very small, itty bitty steps am I going to make any progress.

      Denise

  5. I say that no matter what you do, be proud of what you do and do it well. Personally I do love cooking, and cooking healthy. If you are feeling that it is time to change, that is the first step and I wish you best of luck on your journey. … love what your blog is about!

    • Hi Gina, Thank you for your visit and your kind comment. I do want to change and am actively looking for hands on, very basic cooking class so that I can learn from the ground up, so to speak. Best regards, Denise

  6. I am trying to diet. I did this before and lost a lot of weight really fast but then I worked 5 days a week and knew just what I could eat from a fast food restaurant. Now I work 2 days a week and I am at a loss as to what to cook for this diet. The diet is similar to an exchange diet so when I got home I cooked/ate what choices were left. Now I have to plan the whole days intake around it at home! I am at a loss. So I understand not knowing what to cook but I HAVE to have home cooked meals ~ eating out just gets old really fast.

    As far as the house goes. I am a single mom and that makes ends hard to meet so a housekeeper or shopping for clothes a lot is out of the question. I wouldn’t have a clue what that would be like.

    Shelley

    • Hi Shelley,

      Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment. I certainly understand about having a tight budget and the “ground beef budget” as there have been times in my life when I have really struggled to make ends meet. There are online tools that can help with the meal planning, I think – have you tried searching for “meal planning” to see what’s out there? I’ve battled my weight since college, so I definitely feel for you, and it’s not always easy to eat right when you’re at work, so I applaud you for your efforts.

      Denise

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