My mom is paranoid about a clean house. She is one of those who would go over the whole home with a dry mop once the maid has finished cleaning. As a result, the house is spic and span, and gleaming all the time. The furniture, cupboards, shelves, bathrooms, all are in perfect order all the time. For a long time, I could not understand what she gained out of it. I would get tired just by thinking about cleaning the house! It is only now that I realize that there is an emotional side to this for her. I did not enjoy doing chores for the longest time because I felt there was nothing in it for me except following my mom’s orders. But, then when I was on my own and had to take care of my own home. I did not want it tall o become a chore and become frustrated. So, I found ways to make these jobs happy. Let me share some of the tips from my personal experience to create happiness and willingness to do chores required to make the house habitable:
1. Use the power of association: I started associating every activity with certain outcomes. For example, cleaning utensils or doing dishes helped me calm down as I am a super active person, chopping vegetables helps me get my frustrations and anger out, and listening to music while mopping or vacuuming helps me relax. Once I linked these activities with their outcomes, I started looking forward to them. I can say I have even started enjoying them.
Now when I am doing the dishes, I schedule that time for thinking about a problem I am trying to solve. The problem can be as redundant as what to cook the next day for the three different meals, or something more intricate like how to deal with a latecomer at work. All my planning for the day is kept for when I do the dishes, or clean the kitchen.
I also discovered that chopping vegetables is a stress reliever as it takes lots of focus and some “cutting and chopping” literally. It helps take away thoughts of negative things because I cannot afford to not focus on the knife. Similarly washing the bathroom allows me to talk to myself or sing without anyone hearing me because of the closed doors and running water. Slowly I have come to feel a sort of accomplishment at completing the job within the given time as well as peace of mind at having a decluttered, clean home. The activities have become pleasurable and I don’t rush through them now. Rather, I enjoy every moment of it.
2. Break up the tasks into smaller parts: Don’t make every cleaning a major cleaning, and don’t wait for the cleaning to pile up. On the other hand, don’t make it a habit to do the deep cleaning every day. Divide the whole task of cleaning the house for example, into sweeping, mopping, dusting, and maybe go room by room. That way small accomplishments will make you feel happy. And if you are not able to do the whole cleaning, you will be happy at having achieved a part of it. You will have small accomplishments to celebrate.
3. Don’t procrastinate: Don’t let things pile up as then you will not have the energy to even start. Clean the table when eating is done, throw the garbage directly into the dustbin, put that magazine back into its reach when you have read it, put the dirty clothes directly into the washing machine and so on. Wash the two cups in the sink, don’t wait till they are five. Change the bedcover when you have 5 minutes of time, wipe the bathroom sink with before having your bath. I assure you that the joy you get from ticking thongs of the list through the day will encourage you to deal with major tasks more happily.
4. Stay clutter free: Clutter is one big reason we procrastinate cleaning.Often we feel that we cannot have a beautiful home because it is small. This is absolutely wrong. I have been to many slums and seen the 6 by 6 feet rooms in which the maids live. These are some of the cleanest spaces I have seen in whole my life. I think it is because the space restriction forces people to put everything in place, all the time.
If you live in a small space, don’t buy things you do not need. Most things look good on a store shelf, but visualise them in your home before buying them. You will save money, effort and space.
5. Always ensure you have moving space: When I moved to Mumbai from Delhi, the first thing I did was get a carpenter to remodel all my furniture vertically so that I could store more in less space. So, my wide cupboard was cut in half with one half placed on top of the other, keeping it only as wide as was needed for storing crockery. Similar the two bedside tables were put one on top of the other to make a beautiful high cupboard. I got many hanging storage and shelves to keep the floor free. As a result, the furniture takes about half the space it took in the big house in Delhi and we have enough moving space in our new house. It is easier to clean, sweep and generally manage things when you don’t have to move things out of the way to accomplish the task.
Moreover, everything I need on a daily basis is now at eye level, and we can reach them without having to bend too much. Many of my friends found the ideas practical and copied them. The whole process ended up giving me a high of creativity.
I hope these suggestions help you too. Let us know what you think in the comments.
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