I’ve always hated chores. I’ll do them eventually (and verrry begrudgingly), but honestly, they have always been something that just makes me go… Ugh. With the exception of folding washing (because I can do that while watching Say Yes to the Dress!), chores are the bane of my life.
Especially bloody dishes. I hate doing the dishes – which is really bad, considering I have a dish washer.
But even though I have a strong dislike for housework and chores, I’ve realised recently how much more I dislike having a cluttered, messy house. I know everyone has different levels of liveable mess – and mine is quite relaxed – but there’s still a point that it gets to where it suddenly throws a massive punch to my mood and mental health.
Cluttered house, cluttered mind, as they say.
For example, I started noticing that I would come out and see stacks and piles of dishes on the bench, and just feel… I don’t know. Depressed? Defeated? I’m not entirely sure – but it wasn’t good. Yet at the same time, I always accepted it as my life; I have kids, so mess is to be expected, right?
The big problem here, though, was that I’d look at this mess all through my kitchen and think something along the lines of:
“Oh my god, this house is always a mess.”
“I wish I was naturally tidy or a natural clean freak.”
“I’m a failure at being a housewife and a mother.”
“I really don’t have the energy to clean it all up right now.”
“I’ll deal with it later. When I have energy.”
Funnily enough though, coming back to the mess a few hours later does not magically give me energy or motivation. The mess very kindly waits for me, and instead I come back and feel all those self defeating and negative thoughts all over again – sometimes with the added “god why did you have to be so lazy earlier, this should’ve been dealt with then”.
Not nice stuff to have going on in your head, right?
Then one day the penny dropped.
(Note: I suspect my other half, who is quite tidy, has been gently trying to flip the penny in my direction for quite some time without being too obvious about it, so I think he’s rather relieved that I’ve managed to finally drop it all on my own.)
I was never going to be a naturally tidy person if I didn’t change my behaviour, attitude, and thought pattern around housework. You may have read my previous post about being kind to myself, where I describe how I’ve started working on changing my inner voice – I applied these same mindset techniques and principles to my view of housework.
For example, instead of thinking, “I hate having to do housework”, I now try to think of things like:
“I do housework because it makes me feel so much happier and calmer”
“I love having a tidy house”
“Clean spaces are great for my mental health”
“I feel so proud of myself for keeping my house tidy”
…and perhaps most importantly…
“Keeping my house tidy is an important part of my self care”
Do you see how much more positive these thoughts are? And how they turn housework into something I choose to do for myself and my mental health than something I have to do, like a punishment?
Changing my thought patterns means I tend to get much more done, and I work so much faster (similar to a toddler getting dressed because they want to rather than being forced 😉), and the best part is, I feel SO MUCH MORE energized coming home to a clean house.
It’s still not 100% clean all the time. I do have kids, after all. There’s still piles of washing from time to time, I still find crumbs on the bench and there are still usually toys strewn everywhere. But I keep on top of it so much easier (and more willingly) now, and the general base level of clutter is so much lower. I got rid of a lot of stuff as well which also makes life easier!
And in saying all that, I totally get that sometimes the mess is overwhelming – I’ve definitely been there a fair few times! So here are a few things that I’ve found help to either keep on top of things, or get you going when you’re up to your eyeballs in mess and don’t know where to start:
- Put some upbeat music on
- Set a time limit – do as much as you can in thirty minutes, then have a guilt free ten minute break
- Have a rule where you don’t put off anything that will take less than a minute to do (e.g. picking up toys as you walk past or putting the washing pile into the bedrooms – or better yet, the drawers!)
- Choose one “top” (e.g. table top, bench top, cabinet top) and put away everything on it
- Commit to one load of washing each morning
- Do a quick whip around every night so you wake up to a semi-tidy house
- Have a simple storage system (e.g. all toys in the lounge stay in one box, so it’s easy to just chuck everything in there)
- Bribe your kids to clean up (with chocolate)
- Bribe yourself to clean up (with chocolate)
Do you find your mental health is better in a clean(ish) environment? What tips do you have to keep on top of it?
Until next time,