Getting Back On Top Of Things
So, you’ve been letting the place go. Maybe you’ve never been a great housekeeper to begin with. I’m not! Maybe, like me, you’re a bit of a packrat and have a hard time getting rid of things that are potentially reusable. Or maybe you’ve been crazy busy with work and the kids and you’re too tired. Perhaps you’ve been suffering anxiety and depression and just feel drained. Whatever the reason, your home looks like a post-apocalyptic hellscape.
Of course, the place being a mess further degrades your state of mind as you look over the inglory your indolence has created and think “I’m a bad housekeeper” “I’m lazy” “I’m a pig”. This sort of negative thinking depletes your energy even more, which makes it even more difficult to roll up your sleeves and dig in. Also, pigs are highly intelligent animals who, on the whole, would prefer to live in much cleaner conditions than we humans are wont to keep them in.
Blessed Self, I’m here to tell you that most of your problem is your attitude. You look at the mess and think “I’m lazy”. You’re not lazy, you’re just feeling low on energy. If you think “I’m lazy, I’m filthy, I’m…” whatever negative personality traits you want to associate with a messy home, you’re creating a mindset in which you feel that really, you don’t deserve a clean home.
You deserve a clean home. You are a divine being and as long as you’re here on Earth, you deserve to be comfortable in your home, and that involves your home being clean and safe. So when you look at the mess, instead of thinking “I’m lazy, I’m a bad housekeeper”, think, “I am a divine being and I deserve better than this mess. I deserve for my home to be clean.” Say it out loud, even. Think of cleaning as an act of love and care, a way of treating yourself with kindness.
Got your attitude properly adjusted? Good. Now you have to deal with the next problem, which is, “Wow, this is a huge mess, how will I ever get all this cleaned?” If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or depression, this question will likely seem even more unanswerable, as even small tasks like washing a sink full of dishes can seem overwhelming. The good news is, you don’t have to get it all cleaned, at least not all at once.
If you’re really feeling overwhelmed, you can start with what I call “pecking”. Every time you leave a room, pick up a little bit of mess. Take the dishes to the kitchen and put them in the sink. Clear the clutter off the coffee table. Don’t try to clean the whole room, just make it that little bit tidier as you move in and out of it throughout the day. If you’re feeling more ambitious, instead of fast-forwarding through the commercials in the TV shows you’ve recorded, let them play and use the time to do some tidying up. If the dishes are overwhelming you (I frequently find myself overwhelmed by dishes), tackle a few plates and bowls at a time. Do this a few times during the day and you can handily dispense with them.
Gradually, as you peck away, your place will get less messy; you’ll feel a little bit better and you’ll find you have more energy. When you’ve carved it away bit by bit, you’ll get to a point where actually cleaning an entire room, or even your whole home, seems like a doable task. This is where you have to be careful. Binge cleaning can wear you out, so you’ll want to pace yourself. There are a couple of ways you can carve up the cleaning so that you don’t exhaust yourself. One is by deciding that you want to spend a given amount of time, say fifteen minutes or half an hour, cleaning and setting a timer. When it goes off, then you can decide if you feel like doing another fifteen minutes. The other is to divide your space and clean by increments. Pick a square yard of the room, a corner, a bookshelf that’s in need of clearing off, just mentally section off a particular area and clean that. When you’re done, decide if you’re up to cleaning the next square yard over.
And when you’re done cleaning whatever area you’ve mentally sectioned off, done your little portion of dishes, given the bookcase a long-neglected dusting, give yourself credit for a completed task. Allow yourself that little hit of dopamine your brain releases when you’ve accomplished something. You may not have gotten your whole home, or even a whole room clean, but you will have made a move in that direction. Don’t allow yourself to think “I still have so much more to do, it’s still not clean.” Instead think, “Well, I got the rug vacuumed and all the mail and papers that were cluttering my desk sorted, I deserve a cup of tea”.
Operate under the principle that Better Is Always Better. Instead of feeling shame and embarrassment that you home doesn’t look like something out of a women’s magazine, allow yourself the pleasure of knowing that the place looks better than it did half an hour ago, and that it will look even better when you’ve finished your tea and are up for the next round of cleaning.
Remember, you’re not cleaning because you’re ashamed of the mess or you feel like you’re an unworthy person because your house *gasp* looks like people actually live in it! You’re cleaning because you deserve to live in a healthy, safe, and comfortable place, and you want to give it to yourself as an act of self-love.
Diti Kaal – PIN 600766