If your house is a disaster, you’ve come to the right place for help. This post isn’t for those whose houses are a bit untidy because children don’t put away their toys. This post isn’t for those whose houses are neat, but not spic and span. And this post certainly isn’t for those whose biggest problem is pet hair.
This post is for you if your house looks like this.
It’s All In Your Head
Your starting point isn’t rolling up your sleeves and diving in – determined to work until the point of perfection or prostration, whichever comes first. No. The first thing is to make sure you’ve got your head screwed on right. That means you’re thinking straight. So right off, be sure of two things
First, if you loved cleaning your house, it would already be clean. It’s ok to admit you’d rather have your teeth drilled than scrub a bathtub, so admit it and get that monkey off your back. That’s one less thing. (Pssst: only the domestically anointed really love it.)
And second, your house didn’t get that “lived-in look” overnight and it won’t get that “lightly lived-in look” overnight. Your aim is progress. Therefore, if you’re progressing, you’re succeeding.
My grandmother did her best housecleaning when she was angry with my grandfather. Her house was immaculate because she was always peeved at the poor guy. Personally, I’m not fueled by marital fury. When facing an unpleasant task, I want to be in a pleasant mood. You, too?
So find your happy place. The quickest way to get there is with your happy-place play list. Gospel or Oldies work for me. Play, with volume, what works for you. It’ll get you moving.
Another way to lift your mood is to enlist adult help. Knowing there are other hands on deck means you’ll see progress quicker. And progress is motivating. If you can afford it, hire help for a couple of hours. If you can’t afford it, barter for help with a friend. Exchange a few hours of your help with something she needs assistance with (gardening, detail a car, babysitting, etc.) Female family members might be willing to pitch in just because they love you.
It goes without saying – but I’m saying it – that the children who helped create this chaos must also be recruited to remedy it. They’re not visiting royalty.
Start small. Set a timer you can hear above the din of your music – and set it for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes of cleaning, with focused attention, is do-able.
Begin in the kitchen – where cleanliness is not merely a desirable aesthetic, but necessary for room function and family health. Start with these 20-minute tasks and spread them over a few days.
Plan Of Attack
- Throw away any items lying about that won’t contribute to your life this week (empty containers, junk mail, broken anything, and that avocado pit you’re trying to root in slimy water on the window sill – trash it). Put away any clean dishes in the dish drainer or dishwasher.
- Gather dirty dishes throughout the house and wash them.
- Clean the sink. Clear clutter from counters and wipe them down.
- Clear kitchen table of clutter and wipe it clean. Set the self-clean function on your oven.
- Clean the fridge. Throw out old food and wipe down the inside.
- Put a medium bowl of water with 2 T. lemon juice in the microwave and nuke it for 4 minutes. Remove the water and wipe microwave walls clean.
- Sweep and mop the kitchen floor.
These tasks represent two and a half hours of completed work if you’re doing it alone. But they represent much more. There’ll be a seismic change, not only in one corner of your home but also in your spirit. As you see progress, your confidence in your ability to make a real change will grow. Take a minute to congratulate yourself for taking these first steps.As you see progress, your confidence in your ability to make a real change will grow. Click To Tweet
Now that you know to make incremental progress, focusing on one room at a time, in 20-minute increments, you can move through the rest of your home the same way. You don’t need the tasks broken down and identified. You only needed to see how to do it. You’re a smart woman. By this time next month, your house will look very different. Maybe.
You Need Another Plan
Your house, in a month, will look like it does today unless you have a plan to maintain it. Enlisting the help of friends or family is a card you play once. After that, it’s up to you. So here’s your straight-talk, no-nonsense plan:
STOP THE EXCUSES
I wish I had a nickel for every mom who prides herself on prioritizing her children over housework while at the same time admitting that stance is a major stressor on her marriage. The dirt and disorganization frustrate her husband. Yet she stays her course, convinced she’s doing the right thing. She’s wrong.
She’s wrong because she’s embraced a short-sighted view of child raising. She believes the only years she has to influence her children are the years they live under her roof. And she wants to “enjoy” them while she can.
Remember the big picture
Here’s what the woman who uses her children as an excuse (let’s just call it what it is) for neglecting her house must remember.
- She’s not doing her children any favors by sparing them housekeeping chores. She’s depriving them of the opportunity to learn practical life skills and practice responsibility. (I wrote an entire post about that here.) Hoping they’ll become responsible adults without practice in childhood is wishful thinking.
- She is responsible for modeling what a loving wife is – to her daughters, who hope to be one; and to the sons, she hopes will marry one. Disregarding her husband’s frustration, with the superior attitude she knows best, is not a model for children to emulate. Yet they do. Into adulthood.
- Stating she would never “put my child in a cage” (use a playpen) to keep her child contained and safe while she accomplishes tasks tells the world she cares more about building a particular reputation for herself than anything else. However, she doesn’t realize people can see through that and it actually works against her.
- Her marriage is the primary relationship in the home. The kids will grow up and leave. And there she’ll be – with a husband who’s grown resentful over years of being second-best to his own kids.
- She’s probably kidding herself if she thinks she’ll be a good housekeeper after the kids are gone. By then, her habit is established. They say habits are tough to break for a reason. They’re tough to break.
If you’ve made any of those excuses, stop. Children are an asset, not a liability. They’re not to blame if you haven’t held them accountable. Consistently. So how do you do that?
I knew one SAHM, with six kids and a husband who worked 60 hrs/week to support them, whose house was neat and clean. She didn’t let her kids come to the supper table unless their chores were done. And you can bet they did them. That’s one way. I’m sure you can think of others.
Something To Think About
The truth is, if your house is a disaster like the picture above, that’s not your biggest problem. It’s only a symptom of your bigger problem. Deep down, you already know that.
Your root problem is a lack of discipline you are ultimately responsible for instilling – in your children and yourself. Address the root problem consistently, and the symptom will resolve. Your house will no longer be a disaster. More importantly, you will be a positive role model for your children, a sensitive wife to your husband, and making your home a place you all enjoy.