Dear Home-Ec 101,
How do I motivate myself to clean? What do you do?
Do I Have To
PS. I’m also ADD
Living in a mess is like being in a bad relationship. It starts off comfortable enough, let’s just stay in tonight. You don’t need to put that away.
But sooner or later it starts to whisper things that aren’t very nice:
- If you weren’t messy, maybe you’d be more successful.
- If you could just keep a clean home, you would have more friends.
- If you weren’t so messy someone would love you.
Over time those whispers aren’t whispers anymore. You don’t want to go home from work, you are ashamed to have people over, the amount of energy it takes to fix things seems overwhelming.
One day though, you snap, and kick the jerk to the curb. You throw out all the reminders and let the sun back in. Friends come over, I’ve missed you they say.
If you aren’t careful though, the phone calls start, I’ll get to it tomorrow. The temptation to just let the mess stay one night, you’ll kick it out in the morning. . . and you’re right back in it all over again.
Yeah, I’ve drug the metaphor out far enough. You get it though, right? It sucks. Eventually though it clicks that it’s just not healthy to ignore the mess because it moves in and makes itself comfortable every. single. time.
My motivation to clean isn’t that I’m a particularly neat person, it’s that I’ve learned that letting the mess in takes too big a toll on my energy -physical and emotional. Sure, none of that stuff it says is true, but I sure as hell don’t have to listen to it.
It takes less energy to unload the dishwasher or fold and put away the clothes than it does to hear that garbage.
The secret to keeping a clean home is simply putting your stuff away. You might have to start off by creating a place for your things, but getting into the habit of putting things away takes tiny spurts of energy, not the herculean amount needed to tackle a huge mess.
Use a chore chart to keep yourself on track and prevent the bigger tasks,
I listen to podcasts while I clean, staying on top of tech news. And when I’ve let a room get out of control, I don’t let myself leave the area, because I will get distracted. I use timers when I need to.
And, just to be honest today, my house is not company ready. Someone was ridiculously kind and gave me a couple of chairs, which started the whole If You Give a Mouse a Cookie phenomenon of furniture rearranging. You’ve been there, right?
Most of us don’t like to clean, some of us have figured out it’s easier to do it before it gets out of hand. You’ll be okay.
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