Article: Speak Easy

Housework And Yard Work: Do It Yourself And Feel Awesome with Michael BoturHousework And Yard Work: Do It Yourself And Feel Awesome with Michael Botur

Reasons we all procrastinate about housework, yardwork, DIY and maintenance may include:

• The persistent belief that I could die suddenly tomorrow,
therefore what’s the point of tidying up my house
• Belief that when it’s sunny outside, God wants me to enjoy the bush or
beach instead of cleaning up the place
• Wife warning me that my work isn’t safe and I’m about to injure myself
• Injuring myself by letting a 30kg concrete slab fall against my shin
• Time off to apply Dettol to the wounded shin
• Distracted by Facebook for an hour while inside the house applying Dettol

Still though, there are benefits to improving your house’s interior or exterior. For anybody who is using the yucky winter weather as an excuse to stay inside, here are some of the identified benefits of making things look nicer:

• University College London boffins pored through Scottish Health Survey data
and found those who regularly mop were least likely to suffer anxiety and/or
depression. One 20-minute session of housework lowers the risk of
depression by up to 20 per cent, it was found
• Chris Madden, author of A Room Of her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces, describes cleaning out drawers, gardening, doing the dishes,
cooking and grooming pets as ‘zen’ activities involving mindfulness
• If you have two kids who like to sit on your lap and mash the keyboard when
you’re trying to write PropertyPlus columns, taking the kids out to the
garage and building things with them is a great way to turn hard labour into a
bonding experience involving literacy /numeracy, mild exercise, hand-eye

As for not doing your own yardwork/housework/DIY, there was an entire research paper entitled ‘The complications of ‘hiring a hubby’: gender relations and the commoditisation of home maintenance in NZ’ written by Rosie Cox of the University of London. In this poignant article, Cox found “Working on the home [is] as an expression of care for family and a performance of the ‘right’ way to be a ‘Kiwi bloke’ and a father.” For anyone who doesn’t take up the mantle, there are serious ramifications, the article found: “Paying others to do this labour can imply a failure in a duty of care and in the performance of masculinity,” Cox wrote. The findings of the paper remind us that labour duties that are around the house can be very gendered, and it gets a bit depressing when Cox writes “Single-mother households [are] unlikely to be able to take on home and car maintenance themselves.” The paper argues that housework is a demonstration of how much women care for their families, which is awesome. “Providing caring labour can be important to sense of self,” the article finds. It even includes a brief history of Kiwi DIY:

“NZ DIY homebuilding and home repair activities [are] rooted in the bush-clearance and house building of early European settlers,” Cox’s article finds, apparently forgetting the bush-clearing contributions of the first people to settle in NZ (who were not European – sorry, Noel Hilliam.) “With no need for actual bushcutting and clearing, today’s suburban equivalent is rampant do-it- yourselfism, especially at weekends when the whine of mowers forms a background to the whirr of skillsaws, the repetition of hammer blows and engine noise as convoys of cars and trailers proceed to the local tip.”

Yup, DIY is good for the soul.

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.

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