Updated: May 19
Let’s face it. We’ve been in a pandemic for over a year and life has been hectic. We’re more burned out than we’d like to admit [or perhaps even notice]. The kids are home. You’re working from home. Life is just utterly exhausting. Living in a messy house doesn’t help you to crawl out of your exhaustion, your depression, your anxiety..so what the heck do you do? You know you need to clean and you know that it’ll make you feel better, but you just can’t find the strength, time, or energy. You probably could hire a housekeeper but many require things to be picked up and put away prior to, maybe you’re too embarrassed to ask a friend for help, maybe you can’t afford it. Here are 5 realistic, doable tips to help you get things in order.
1) Be gentle with yourself.
No one wants to live in a messy house. Everyone’s definition of “messy” varies. Messy for one could mean papers out of place, clothes thrown on the bed, floor needs to be swept. Messy for someone else [ahem, me] could mean stacked up dishes from last week, stepping over clothes, shoes, perhaps a squished bag of goldfish, and some God-awful smell that you gave up trying to determine where it’s coming from. Being gentle with yourself is the first step because these things happen when life happens. Every now and then, you’ll see someone say “how does it even get to that point?” and the truth of the matter is, it’s a four letter word. LIFE. Life is how it gets to that point. It’s easier to continue the days in the messy space because you’re already exhausted. How can you find the energy to reverse what’s been building up?
2) Make a list of what needs to be done room by room.
When my moment of depression hit and honey, it knocked me completely off of my feet. I’d make a list of what needed to be cleaned throughout the entire place and before I knew it, I had 30 things listed and I quit after I scratched off the third thing. It was too much. 30 things and I’ve only accomplished THREE!? My brain was more exhausted from the length of my list than my depression! So, start small. Room by room. Before you even begin to clean, make a list. Have a clear picture of what needs to be done. You’ll feel so empowered as you scratch off each bullet. For example, I’d start with the master bedroom. I’d list 6 things [insert picture] after looking at the room. Had I not made a list, I would’ve felt extremely overwhelmed because it LOOKED like so much more than it ACTUALLY was. But once I scratched off pick up all clothes and put them in basket, then throw away all trash, then clean off, organize, and sanitize dresser + nightstand, and so on and so forth, I was done before I knew it.
3) Take it day by day.
If you do one room a day, that’s something to celebrate. If you knock out two rooms, that’s something to celebrate. If you get a sudden burst of "I must finish this today" energy, that's something to celebrate. Don’t further exhaust yourself. Mix and match if you’d like. Knock off two things from the list for the master bedroom and three things from the list for the kitchen. If it helps, focus on keeping one space clean at a time. If the bedroom is clean, keep putting the clothes in the basket, keep making the bed, keep throwing away trash. It helps more than we realize.
4) Get the kids involved.
Make it a fun game [granted, consider the age]. "Who can pick up the ___ the fastest? Who can get all of the trash in the trash can the fastest? “If we can get three things done from this list, we’ll have more space to do X,Y,Z!” "Wanna help me mop, here you give it a shot!" It's hard to clean with kids, but getting them involved means that you don't have to worry about if they're on the other side of the house dumping out slime. If you have a newborn, try baby wearing.
5. Ask for help!
If you're anything like me, you're very particular about your cleaning and where things go. It takes more time to tell someone else where something goes, where something is, and of course once you start chit-chatting, the day is practically gone. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. Sometimes we need help, we need moments of laughter, we need to feel centered, we need someone else to comfortably sit in our messiness with us so that we know everything is OK. Even if everything isn't actually OK, in that moment, you feel whole, seen, and heard.
Take your time and know that you are not alone.