Don’t you just love cleaning? Nonstop scrubbing, scouring, sweeping, and sanitizing. And just when you think you’re about to run out of things to clean — never fear! — I can guarantee someone will come along and undo your hard work so that you can do it all over again! Hooray!
Wait! What’s that you say? That’s not quite how you feel?
Okay, that was a ridiculous exaggeration of course, but it really is possible to get to a point where you don’t dread every load of laundry and dishes.
Just think about how many loads of laundry and dishes you have to do in your life. That’s a LOT of time spent full of dread when you could be full of JOY instead!
I know, it’s not always easy to find joy in cleaning. Trust me, I get it.
It’s never-ending. It’s thankless. There is so much to do. And then when you finally do it, you only have a few minutes to enjoy it before you have to do it all again.
But believe it or not, most of the stress, the energy, the time, is in thinking about it.
You see, overwhelm isn’t having too much to do, it’s not knowing what to do first.
If you manage your mindset first, it becomes so much less dreadful. And it consumes so much less of your life too.
It may seem like it’s easier said than done, but don’t worry, I’m right here with you to help you figure it out.
Here are some of my favorite tips to help you beat overwhelm and keep your home tidy without the stress!
- Give Yourself Grace — First of all, start by being kind to yourself! You have so much on your plate, and you are incredible. Celebrate what you ARE doing each day instead of beating yourself up for what you aren’t. Don’t compare your weak areas with someone else’s strong points, because I can guarantee that they wish they were as amazing as you at other things.
- Use the Nike Rule and the Frozen Rule — The pile of papers on your dresser, the cobweb in the corner, the fingerprints on the fridge, stop fretting about it and JUST DO IT! All of those little things that you see over and over every day and every time it sends you down the rabbit hole of “I really need to do that” “when will I ever have time” “my house is so disgusting” “I’m such a slob”… STOP the negative self talk and just take care of it. All of those thoughts swirling around in your head are taking way more of your time and energy than it would take to just get it done and move on. On the other hand, all of the cleaning tasks you find on Pinterest checklists but you’ve never even thought of or noticed until someone else pointed it out, feel free to LET IT GO. They’re not living in your house, you are. If it doesn’t bother you, there’s no need to waste the time scrubbing it. Let the baseboards stay dusty. Let the shower have hard water build-up. It’s really not a big deal. You have limited time, so only focus on what matters to you, what improves your life.
- Follow a Simple Cleaning System — Now that you’ve let go of all of the unnecessary guilt and pressure, what DO you clean? How do you get it all done? With super simple routines that make keeping up on the things you do care about practically automatic. No overthinking, no worrying, no scheduling, no figuring things out, just quickly and easily getting things done. Lucky for you, I already have the perfect cleaning system ready and waiting for you!
- Use TImers — One of the best ways to reduce overwhelm with those big projects or neverending messes is to set a timer. Instead of wondering and worrying over how much time you think it will take, just use what time you do have to make some progress here and there. Spend 15 minutes a day (or 10, or even just 5) organizing “that” room or doing some deep cleaning. Before you know it, you’ll have it all done and you can tackle another. Stopwatches are also useful, especially for the dishes, the laundry, the clutter, those daily tasks that you tend to procrastinate. Start timing yourself doing these things, and you just might be surprised to learn it actually doesn’t take too much time after all. And then next time it will be even easier to use that Nike rule and just do it when you first think of it instead of dreading it all day.
- Skip to Maintenance Mode — Even when I have the best intentions of doing all of the other things on this list, I used to find myself thinking “I need to catch up so I can just be in maintenance mode.” I think that first I need to deep clean every single thing in my entire house, and then I’ll be able to start keeping it clean with the easy daily tasks. But that’s overwhelming! So I end up not doing it at all. Instead, just start straight into the small daily tasks. Sure, maybe the stove has all kinds of burnt on grime. Maybe it won’t come off by just quickly wiping it down once a week. But it’s a start. And over time it will get better, and more importantly it won’t keep getting worse. Later, when you have a moment, you can get it sparkling clean again, but for now just do your best.
- Don’t Do Your Best — Yep. you heard me right. DON’T do your best. Because thinking that you need to do your best keeps you from doing it at all. My grandma (and probably your grandma too) used to always say “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” She was well known for keeping everything in tip top shape all of the time. When she passed away, I went home to help my mom with her funeral. We scrubbed my mom’s house and my grandma’s (they lived next door) top to bottom. We were cleaning up my grandma’s yard, and I was working on raking and sweeping up leaves. One part of the yard was a large area of bark mulch under a particularly messy tree. I thought to myself “even Grandma couldn’t possibly expect to rake pine needles off of bark, that just wouldn’t work” but then a few minutes later my mom asked me to rake that area, and told me it was always especially important to Grandma. I didn’t do it well, not at all, but I did what I could. And you know what? It looked so much better, it really made the yard look nice. And that’s when I really took to heart a different saying by the author Terry Pratchett. “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” I thought since I couldn’t do it well, I might as well not do it at all. But if something is truly worthwhile, who cares if you won’t do a good job, just do it anyway.
- Last, but Definitely Not Least — Thank yourself. Be proud of your work. Be happy about the result instead of focusing on how grueling it is. I genuinely find joy in doing housework. And it’s not because it’s so super fun and exciting to do. It’s not like I prefer cleaning over other hobbies. I’m not actually so thrilled by it that I’m glad when more messes are made just so I can have the chance to do more cleaning. But I do love the comfort of a tidy home. I love the satisfaction of accomplishing something. It’s something that needs to be done, it always has been and it always will be. So isn’t it better to learn how to find joy in it?