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I have company coming tomorrow. My college roommate, whom I’ve not seen in 24 years, and her husband, whom I’ve never met, are set to arrive sometime in the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, I have a full day of writing, editing, and legwork ahead of me. My son has a ball game tonight. My dog just had surgery and is wearing a cone. My husband has a meeting so he won’t be home until bedtime. And I’ve got to do laundry or my daughter won’t have anything clean to wear. Yet, with my old friend set to arrive soon, I’m highly motivated to clean.
Of course, it wasn’t always this way. And let’s be real, some days, it still isn’t. But if you’re finding yourself struggling to keep things tidy – they’re just going to mess it all up again anyway, right? – don’t worry. Here are five ways to get motivated to clean your house.
Sanitation – Do we really need to go into depth here? Grungy bathroom floors, mold, and excess dust are not just gross to look at. They can become nasty, toxic, health hazards. Hopefully you find a little motivation to swipe it all down with a Clorox wipe long before you get to this point, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. Figure out the minimum amount of days you can go between cleaning tasks and start with that, then try to increase.
Routine – Having a weekly cleaning routine can help me feel more ‘on top of things,’ even when I’m not. I may have a stack of work left to finish or a long-neglected craft project sitting and waiting in vain, but if I managed to dust the bookcases and clean the mirrors, I somehow feel much better about my abilities to run my household. Taking a few minutes at the start of each day to do simple, scheduled cleaning tasks makes me feel like I’ve already accomplished something.
Pride – Likewise, even when that work piles up, or you are picking up takeout for the third night in a row, it’s a pretty great feeling to walk into a clean house. It doesn’t have to be perfect. No one cares if you steam cleaned your drapes or scrubbed your baseboards, no matter what your grandma told you. If your house is neat and orderly, without piles of clutter everywhere, bathrooms and kitchen are gunk-free, floors swept or vacuumed, and there’s no rotting pile of laundry taking over a corner of your bedroom, you can walk with a little more swagger. It’s OK. You have permission. All those ‘extras’ like polished silver and organized garage shelves, if you can accomplish them, are just that, extra. Take pride in what you can do, and you’ll be more likely to do it, and strive for more when you can.
Setting a good example for your children – Have you ever caught yourself yelling at your kids to make their beds and then realized that your own is not made? Nothing screams, “Never listen to another hypocritical word that Mom says!” louder than that. But if you want your kids to keep their rooms clean, and have a sense of ownership and pride in their surroundings, you have to accept that it all starts with you. When they see you making an effort to hang up your jacket, stow your shoes in the closet, and put your dirty plate or glass in the dishwasher, they are more inclined to do the same. If you don’t like the way your house looks, ask yourself if you’re setting the best example you can, and answer honestly. If you’re not, realize that nothing will change until you do.
Unexpected guests – Well, this is where we started, isn’t it? Does a knock at the door paralyze you with fear? If your first thought at the sound of the doorbell is, “I hope it’s not someone I know so they don’t see what a mess this house is,” that should tell you something. Even if you have a hard time sticking to a regular routine, a few minutes spent on cleaning tasks here and there can go a long way. Squirt some toilet bowl cleaner in your toilets, and then let them sit before you start a load of laundry. When you’re done, give them a quick scrub and flush. Clean your bathroom sink and counter while you supervise kids in the tub. Wipe down your microwave while you’re waiting for dinner to cook. Or my favorite, go through the house with a cleaning wipe and hit all the switch plates, while you talk on the phone. Because those tasks are piggybacked with others, you’ll barely notice that you’re doing them, but your house will look much better. So when you hear that knock, you can confidently open the door and welcome friends and family into your fresh, clean home.