One of the lovely (or not-so-lovely) things about our online “life” is that we can portray only the best and only the prettiest parts of our real life. Our houses are always clean, the children are always dressed and happy, and all of the meals for the week are planned. It is easy to get caught up in maintaining that rosy, perfect picture, afraid to admit that we truly are human and don’t really have it all together.
Earlier this week on a Facebook group I’m a member of, a thread “Worst Housekeeping/Housecleaning Confessions” was started. It was such a blessing to me to read through it and see that I wasn’t the only one(!) who didn’t have a spotless house. I’m not the only one who struggles to stay on top of things, yet has laundry piled high waiting to be washed and a fridge that needs to be cleaned out.
So when you feel overwhelmed, remember you aren’t the only one who has sat down and cried your eyes out because of the state of your home and because you feel like a failure as a homemaker. The real world and real life are messier and more disorganized than blogs and Pinterest would lead us to believe.
A trick that I’ve learned to help me when I have the housecleaning blues is to do one thing in each room that is noticeable. That gets the ball rolling and there is a difference (even if it’s small!) in each space. For example: in my bedroom, I’ll make the bed. In the living room I’ll make sure the couch and coffee table are straight. Little things like that will help me see where I want to go and give me motivation to get there.
I am a huge list maker. I make lists for everything. And I make lists when I clean. Checking things off of a list gives me an adrenaline rush (I know, I need to get out more) and sometimes my lists are ridiculous, depending on how airheaded I am that day.
I have also started using a timer extensively, thanks to the FlyLady. It is amazing to me how much I can get accomplished in 15 minutes of focused cleaning. I highly recommend doing this. In her book Sink Reflections, she gives the following “formula” for cleaning with a timer:
Set a timer for 15 minutes and work as fast as you can in one area until the timer sounds. Don’t get distracted and move until time is up. Set the timer for another 15 minutes and move to another area, even if the first isn’t finished—you can come to it later. Continue in this manner until you have cleaned for 3 sets of 15 minute intervals (a total of 45 minutes.) Set your timer for 15 minutes again and take a break.
This method has really worked well for me, even if I have to go back to an area a few times to finish it. I’ve found, however, that 15 minutes of focused cleaning is usually almost all that I need for most areas.