For most of us, we had no idea that having a child would bring so much STUFF into our lives. From school projects to grass clippings, the things accumulate and take up space. The combination of more things + kids being kids = a huge mess. One of my favorite quotes is by comedienne Phyllis Diller, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”
Given everything going on in your house (ie. life!) keeping it clean is not always possible. We only have so much time and energy and oftentimes we prioritize — as we should! If your priority is to make a healthy dinner, play with your kids, or even just relax after a busy day, kudos to you! The mess can certainly wait.
Mess Makes Us Stressed
The only problem with the mess waiting around, though, is that it causes us stress. We want our houses to look clean, uncluttered, and in our fantasies, company-ready. When the mess accumulates, we feel unsettled, antsy, and sometimes it even lowers our self-esteem.
Even if the mess has been going on for a long time and we’re “used to it,” it causes us stress. It may be how we always live, but it doesn’t feel good and relaxed for our home to be a disaster.
Although the ultimate solution is to clean it up (or hire someone to do it for us!), sometimes the mess needs to wait. This is especially true if you’re very tired or busy.
Staying Up Late to Clean Doesn’t Work
The solution that many of Moms turn to is to wait for the kids go to bed, then clean up the mess. However, if this causes you to stay up late (or not sleep well), please don’t do this. I used to fall into this trap and it just makes things worse. Much worse!
Sure, your house will look a bit better, but sacrificing your sleep will affect your overall well-being. You won’t have the sense of calm you were looking forward to from your clean house. Instead, the next day you’ll be tired and cranky. This will set you up for a cycle of exhaustion as you do the same thing the next night.
Instead, get some rest. The next day you’ll be more likely to feel energized and ready to tackle the mess. You’ll clean it faster and with more enthusiasm.
Feeling Relaxed In the Mess
If you’re not cleaning up the mess (hopefully it’s staying put because you’re going to bed at a decent time!) how can you feel the sense of inner peace that a clean house brings?
1. Make a plan to clean it. If you schedule a day or time to tackle the mess, you’ll feel so much better about it. You’ll know that the mess won’t be there forever and you’ll have a sense of relief knowing that you have a plan to conquer it.
2. Fake it! If you don’t feel like cleaning up, a great solution is to grab a laundry basket and dump in anything that’s out of place. You can clean out the laundry basket another day when you have more time and energy. This will make your house instantly look clean and give you a sense of calm and control, but you’ll actually clean out the basket on another day. It’s a great win-win solution!
3. Keep your bedroom clean(ish!). This is the opposite of what we usually do! If we have the energy to spend a few minutes cleaning, we tend to focus on our kitchen or common living spaces. Then we go to our bedrooms to relax and sleep, but we’re faced with a borage of crap. That’s not so relaxing. Instead, START with your most personal space — your bedroom. If your bedroom is tidy(ish), you’ll feel more relaxed and this will help you eventually tackle your other rooms. Give it a try and you’ll be amazed at how calm a clean bedroom makes you feel.
4. Close the door. If all else fails, close the door and don’t look at it! This is especially helpful when the mess is in your kid’s room. LOL. Sometimes we have no control over a mess. We don’t want to clean it up for the kids but they need their sleep and sometimes it’s not practical to clean it right away. Instead, shut the door and focus on what you CAN control.
I hope you’ll use these solutions the next time you’re feeling anxious because your house is out of control and you can’t clean it right away. Remember — it’s always more important to take care of yourself and get the rest you need! Once you do that, the extra energy to take care of your home (and everything else!) will come much easier.