Monday, August 26, 2013

Part 2- Getting mentally prepared to Tame the Beast

As I've mentioned, I don't like housework. I tend to view it as some diabolical torture devised to make me miserable, and that makes getting the house clean and organized tough.  Before I get cleaning, I have to get in the right frame of mind.  This is the most important part of housekeeping for me.

For starters, I have to set up my attitude. Before getting out of bed on cleaning day, I tell myself that I have lots of energy, that I want to have a clean space.  I remind myself that house cleaning burns calories, and that I love how the place feels after a good cleaning.  Tell yourself that you are capable, and then prove it. It makes for better future cleanings, too.

Do you have issues with housework?  I do.  Spend some time reflecting on why you hate housework.  If there are emotional issues like relationships with other people or feelings on inadequacy, take some time (but not on cleaning day) to work through them. There are books, c.d.'s, mp3's and websites devoted to dealing with these issues (I will post a list of my favorites in a couple of weeks when I wrap up this series). Examining your emotional ties to things and ideas also makes it easier to get rid of clutter.  Once you understand that some stuff really does tie us down, it gets easier to break those bonds and move forward.  Throwing away an object isn't throwing away a person, relationship or memory, unless you chose to use it that way. Clearing our space makes us mentally and emotionally clearer, which make housework an important part of changing our lives.

I get comfy- worn out jeans, a shirt I don't mind getting stained or damaged (I've ruined lots of black tees cleaning the bathroom. Did you know toothpaste is a bleaching agent?), sneakers (with my shoe inserts) and a hair in a ponytail.   I have an apron with huge pockets that I like to wear for certain tasks, as it keeps my shirt dry and tools handy.  Heather has been known to start by putting on her stilettos (she dances all the time, so this makes perfect sense). Whatever works for you. If you aren't going anywhere for the day, you might also think about using your cleaning time to try out that pore clearing face mask or deep condition your hair.  If you're going to be wearing gloves for a while, it might be a good time to put on some hand lotion.  I like multitasking, and after I spend hours cleaning, I want a shower, so it's good timing for me to double up on these types of tasks.

Start with some fuel.  Have a cup of coffee, tea or whatever  to get the juices flowing. Eat something (I forget this then drink too much caffeine and regret it later).  Remind yourself that your body needs nourishment to be effective.  In our house, we also tend to have snacks that can be grabbed and consumed on the run for cleaning days, along with cold beverages (a case of Corona in the fridge keeps my husband working for hours longer than without).  I drink tons of caffeine when I clean, but that's because I like to feel like a crazy person while I clean (vibrating is fun, at least until the crash).

Set the mood.  Music is a must for cleaning around here.  My husband listens to trance and house music while he cleans. I like bouncy music I can sing along with.  My mp3 player is my best friend while I'm cleaning or organizing.  Not only can I use it to keep me focused, it also blocks out the kids bickering and the neighbors' noise.  Sometimes, I'll listen to affirmations, guided meditations or even binaural tones if I need a clear head and few thoughts (Remember the moving meditations post?). Colin likes incense to help set the cleaning mood; I prefer to spritz some essential oil and water after the cleaning is done. Open the winds, turn on the fans, get things moving if that helps your energy level.

Start with something small, but visible. The bathroom gets cleaned first often.  It's small, and generally can be cleaned top to bottom in about half an hour.  Seeing the results so effectively keeps me motivated, and it gives me someplace to take a breather later (close the door and nobody knows what you're doing in there, and they aren't likely to ask, either).

I like to have a reward in mind.  If you finish your chores for the day, what's the reward (besides having a clean space)?  A nap, a movie, ice cream, a new book, a trip the beach, a lazy day, and a long soak in the tub are all things I use to reward myself.  I also set boundaries; there is a point at which you need to stop and re-evaluate your situation.  If four o'clock on Sunday is approaching and I can see that things aren't going to get done, I wrap up what I'm doing and stop for the night.  This is important if you have school age kids or a job that need to be prepared for Monday mornings.  Know your limits and avoid burning out, which only reinforces negative thoughts about cleaning.

These are simply my suggestions and experiences with the psychology of cleaning.  They might work for you, and they might not. If they don't work, I encourage you to keep trying things until you find what works for you.  If you have some brilliant observation,a  great tip, or even a funny story about getting in the mindset to clean, please share.

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