Getting motivated to clean is no easy task. Joan Rivers once quipped: “I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again”. Obviously Rivers’s comments are tongue-in-cheek, but they resonate with all of us in some way. It is the inevitability of housework that makes it so tiresome and, like Rivers, we have a tendency to procrastinate, only to make it more challenging after days, even weeks of negation. This can be even worse during the summer holidays, the six weeks or so when the children are often latchkey during the day, bringing in the mud of playing fields, and ravaging the cupboard for snacks like swarms of locusts. If you are feeling overwhelmed, just read on: you will find it is all about the right frame of mind.
Housework is generally thought of as a chore, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, housework can be:
• A good, cardiovascular workout.
• A way to actualise self-improvement.
• An opportunity to converse with family.
• A chance to multitask; listen to an album, or podcast.
Think along these lines, and all hints of tediousness vanish. Life, as the famous saying goes, is what you make it. Now, all you need to do is convince the children that it’s all worthwhile.
Jordan Peterson, the clinical psychologist and philosopher, once remarked on how absurd it is that the politically-engaged youth of today should attempt to reorganise the world when they can’t even organise their own bedrooms. Peterson could not understand why teenagers who are so ardent about “changing the world” would be so profoundly neglectful of their own little corner of the world. If this philosophical theorising isn’t enough to convince your children, then it’s worth mentioning that neglecting the things you can change can lead to angst, stagnation, and depression: something as relatively minor as cleaning a room and “getting the house in order” can profoundly improve mental health.
If the children haven’t cleaned their room for months (or years, who are we kidding?) chances are they will stumble upon some old relic that will set them off on a nostalgia trip. Adults, too, are also vulnerable to this. Distractions and procrastination are the enemies of progress, but their effects can be diminished, even avoided, by following a few simple steps:
• Prepare beforehand: a cleaning caddie is a great way to keep everything, such as window cleaner, organised. All that running back and forth or – worse – rummaging in the back of a cupboard to find a cleaning agent will sap your time, patience, and energy.
• Likewise, a schedule will help organise your efforts. Aim to clean up one room or section of the house in one session. Setting an alarm is a good way to time and signal the end of your cleaning session.
• Don’t be overly ambitious, and don’t be a perfectionist. There are fine hairs the vacuum cleaner is struggling to pick up – so what? If you are feeling frustrated, stop. More often than not, you will find it looks a lot better once you have calmed down.
• Remember to have fun: housekeeping together should be a coordinated, team-building exercise; an opportunity to strengthen bonds and relationships with the ones you love.
• Resist the temptation to hoard everything: A strange quirk of human nature is that we can find emotional resonance in items, no matter how minor: a coffee cup from a first date, perhaps, or an old outgrown tee shirt that recalls the decades past. The reality is that, unless you are fortunate to own a house with abundant storage, decisions will have to be made. For some items, the thought of throwing away will be non-negotiable, but the reality is most of them you won’t ever think about, that is, until the next cleaning schedule, when you’re left pondering the decision all over again.
So you’ve altered your mindset, won over the children; drawn up your schedule, and still the house is a mess. What next? Well, there are some “push” factors you can implement, designed as a sort-of mental injection, giving extra impetus to the thought of cleaning. Though they may vary in effectiveness depending on your personality, such factors include:
• Looking at others for inspiration: A Google search, or quick thumb-through a housekeeping magazine, will no doubt provide plenty of aesthetically pleasing pictures to aspire to.
• Invite people around: Whether we admit it or not, we are social animals and social acceptance from our peers plays a huge part in our satisfaction and happiness levels. Fear is also a great motivator, so go ahead and send the invitations out.
• Reward yourself: ‘Reward’ isn’t a synonym for expensive. Even something as small as a glass of wine, or bar of chocolate, after a cleaning session can make the chore a little more interesting.
• Take before and after pictures. Not only is this a great way to really appreciate your efforts after a cleaning session, it’s also a great way source of inspiration for when the next time comes round.
• Buy something new. Treat yourself; spoil yourself, after your hard work. It could be something as beautiful as a handcrafted, decorative plate, a new vase, or a scented candle – a decorative token to signal that the habits of old are over for good.
• Think of your family’s health. Oils, dirt, mud, and dust: apart from looking unsightly, are also welcoming bastions for harmful microorganisms, including dust mites, E.coli and staphylococcus. An unclean house is essentially a polluted one. It will exacerbate allergies, sickness, and depression. If there was ever a push factor to get cleaning, the health of your loved ones is surely paramount.
If the mountain truly seems unconquerable; if there’s barely enough room to stick the vacuum cleaner once you’ve brushed the rubbish aside, or if time is limited, or you’re feeling too old, then why not “start over” and enlist the help of a professional cleaning service?
Pristine Home is your friendly cleaning service based in Dublin. No home cleaning operation is beyond our expertise, or your requirements. If you live in the area, contact us. We will be more than happy to listen to your queries and work out the best arrangements for you.