Quarantine can make you feel like a failure. Don’t let it. You’re not the only one who has had an ample amount of time to get the entire house cleaned and haven’t.
This isn’t something most people are going to put on social media. If you haven’t noticed, most people prefer to show their successes, not their failures, on social media. But I promise, one of the most common things going through people’s heads right now is:
“I’ve had all this time to clean, and yet, here we are…. with a messy house.“
It’s stressful. It takes a lot out of you.
You know you’d be happier in a clean house, but it looks like a lot of work.
What should you do? Start small.
Break it up into bite-sized pieces and the stress will begin to soften like butter.
We’ve been isolated for several weeks, and we have several more weeks to go. Our house isn’t spotless, but we did get started on some areas, by using these easy tips and methods.
1. See What You’re Up Against
We’ll be moving in less than a year, so we made a list of every area in our house we need to clean and declutter. For some of the more detailed areas (e.g. my wife’s craft shelf, files in my desk, closets, etc.), we made it a unique item. For other areas, like the guest bedroom, we listed the entire room as one item.
We have 44 items on our list.
For you nerds, I used the Chaos Control app to track all of these items as one project.
Once we had this list, we started with something simple: the game closet.
Well, we thought it’d be simple, but as it turned out, we were up against a thousand random game pieces. The idea of matching all of these pieces to each game—before we either kept, donated, or trashed it—was intimidating.
That is, until we remembered who created the problem in the first place…
2. Get the Kids Involved
Odds are, a great deal of the mess in your home wasn’t caused by you at all.
With five kids in our home, we thought about the fact that they are the ones who mixed up all the game pieces in the first place. It only makes sense that they would help find the matches.
Don’t forget to get your kids involved. It may be a habit to put them in front of the TV while you clean up their mess. They can help! The small, mundane tasks are great for little kids. Older kids can help with almost everything. They just have to be taught.
This means, for us, we have five helping hands, even though our two-year-old isn’t… the most helpful.
And don’t worry, it’s totally legal to put your kids to work in your home.
3. Focus on One Thing at a Time
A messy house is only stressful if you’re focusing on the entire thing.
Pick a room, shelf, or surface, and start there. You can make a list of every individual area in your home like we did, but you don’t have to — just start with one area.
It helps us focus on one thing at a time by having the list… mostly because it shows how each thing takes a certain amount of time. It’s going to take you longer to clean and sort a room with a craft shelf than it will to clean a guest bedroom with only a bed and one nightstand. That’s why our list helps. But it’s your call.
4. Set Aside Cleaning Time
Use a certain time of each day—it could be as small as 10 minutes—to clean.
Don’t clean outside of this time. You’re off the hook. Don’t feel guilty.
The purpose of this is to show you exactly when to start and stop cleaning. If you want to expand the window and clean a little more, go ahead. I’d start small and expand, rather than starting too big, and cutting it back.
It’s freeing to know you’re only “allowed” to clean during a certain window.
5. Do What You Like First
Finally, whichever thing on your list is most appealing, do that first.
Do you enjoy doing laundry? Do you find doing dishes therapeutic?
Do what you like first. Sure, this may be procrastinating, but something is getting done — it’s always easier to keep going than to get started.
Start with what’s easy, and work your way into the harder tasks.
What Works for You?
I’m curious to know how you get started when you feel overwhelmed with a messy house.
Different methods work for different people. This is what works for me, and many others, but I’m open to new ideas.
It’s all a mind game. Sometimes we have to “trick” ourselves to get to work. It’s a psychological battle. It has little to do with getting off the couch and washing a dish. It has everything to do with mental clutter and how our environment affects us.
Just remember, you’re not the only one who feels like you could be cleaning more. Don’t feel guilty. Do a little cleaning. Spending some family time together. Read a book.
Further Book Reading
- When Should Your Kid Have Their Own Phone? A Real Conversation
- Your Kids’s First Car: Everything You Need to Know
- The Media Threat: How Much Screen Time is Too Much?
- How to Teach Your Kids to Invest
- 8 Minimalism Books to Help You Declutter Your Entire House
- The Complete Guide to Saving for and Sending Your Kids to College