One of the first photos I took of my cleaning process.
The house is in complete shambles. It has been two weeks since I have had time to clean the house, and it is showing. I bust out my vacuum and laundry basket, and tackle the farthest corner of the house. Gone are the days where I spend more time staring in lost confusion at the disaster before me, trying to pick a point to get started. If I just start in the living room and make my way to the kitchen at least it won’t look so bad if someone knocks on the door.
I don’t give a rip what people think about the house anymore. In 50 minutes half the house has been transformed into what I used to consider Christmas Holiday Ready clean. The other half is tidy except for the kitchen, which is at the height of disaster thanks to a late night cookfest. I’m not worried about it. I don’t feel like a slob because I cooked last night and didn’t clean up.
I switch between cleaning up the disaster zone, writing this article, and preparing one of the collection of articles my freelance writing career has brought me. By the time I need to pick my son up from school, the house is sparkling, the articles are done, and I have this blog post scheduled for a future date.
The clean counterparts to slobs all around the world are probably wondering, what happened in those 35 hours to elicit a change?
While I think there will have to be a whole slew of posts in the future, and I have yet to see how the rest of the project is going to develop, here are a few tips that helped me at least contain my own mess some of the time:
A moment of cleanliness.
The hours themselves are the most instructive part
I’ve read plenty of blogs and books that promise after reading the book I’ll go from slob to self respecting cleaning lady by the time I’ve turned the last page. The problem with these books is that they are only really helpful if that particular method of cleaning works for you.
I don’t respond well to check lists, rewarding myself with glasses of wine, or starting our with a clean sink each morning. I know this because I’ve tried each and every method of keeping my house clean, only to find that it falls into disrepair right away. What I did find worked for me was choosing one chore, such as clearing off all the surfaces, and applying it to the whole house before moving on to the next chore. That way the rooms that I find intimidating I can take small bites out of, and then reward myself with an easier room right after. By the time I’ve finished a few rounds, the entire house looks better and the room that was in the worst condition now looks like it can be finished in a manageable fashion.
This makes cleaning a quick and easy process for me – the entire house done in two hours when I would usually fail at cleaning it up even with a whole day and nothing else to do in that time. It worked for me, but because your reasons for not wanting to clean are probably different, it may not work for you.
Learning how you handle the chores will have ups and downs–and that’s okay.
My maintenance of the house strongly resembles the waves of an ocean. At each crest of a wave, I get a little better at cleaning, and the house stays clean a little bit longer. Right after this crest though, the house reverts back to where it was. 35 hours in, I can look at my photos and safely say that the dips aren’t as bad as they once were, and often for shorter periods of time. I think by the time 100 hours rolls around I’ll be able to keep the house at least fairly clean most of the time, and that’s what I want. I don’t need my house to look like it came out of a magazine, I just need it to not end up on a reality TV show for cleaning nightmares or something.
Controlling outside factors are more important than actually buckling down and cleaning.
I know, that’s probably shocking. The truth is that when I have time, energy, and motivation my house is clean. When I feel sick or tired, I’m not getting out of my pajamas on my day off and those dishes are staying in the sink. Taking my vitamins and working on finding systems that motivate me have a farther reaching impact than forcing myself to scrub while I’m sneezing. If you can’t find the energy to get up off the couch and clean, you might want to start with some vitamins and a fresh food diet. You’ll be surprised how much proper nutrition can help with your chore sheet.
Hopefully I’ll have another report in as I struggle through this project, but it may be awhile before the next report.