If you’re like me, you’ve got better – or at least, more pressing – things to do than spend your whole day cleaning. On the other hand, keeping your surroundings reasonably neat and tidy can make the whole household feel calmer and less chaotic. So how do you get your home feeling more orderly when you’re short on time or motivation?
My method is identifying “trigger messes” – those things that, if not done, make my house feel sloppy, make me feel slovenly, and slurp up any motivation I might have had for getting up off the sofa and conquering the world. That way, when I start feeling like a Cathy comic: hair frazzled, surrounded by piles of clutter and mess with my hands up and a big “ACK!” word balloon over my head, I have someplace to start. And often, by the time I’m done tackling one or two of my trigger tasks, I realize the mess wasn’t so bad to begin with and I can breathe again.
Everyone has her own list, but I’m finding that we moms often share a lot of overlapping triggers. My list includes:
- An unmade bed. I know, I know, it’s just going to get messed up again later, but seeing those rumpled blankets and sheets makes me feel like I just rolled out of bed, all day long. I don’t kill myself making beds perfectly, but almost always take a few minutes to shake out the sheets and smooth out the covers within an hour or so of getting up.
- Throw blankets and sofa pillows on the floor. Makes me want to run away screaming and hide under the covers – good thing I already made the bed to deter myself from taking refuge there! Sometimes the sight of the pillows and blankets on the floor feel insurmountable, but in reality, it takes about 20 seconds to put them back where they belong. Then the sense of relief is enough to inspire me to do some laundry.
- Cluttered kitchen counters. Nothing says “where, oh where is my live-in maid?” like counters piled high with dishes. When I don’t have time to actually clean the kitchen, putting everything into the sink helps me cope. Unfortunately, dishes piled in the sink is one of my husband’s triggers, but that just gives him more incentive to nag the older kids to load the dishwasher. Win-win!
I know that what drives me crazy might not even trip your radar…just like I rarely notice dust, cobwebs and other things that might rank high on your trigger list. So I want to know: what are your “trigger” messes: the things that, when left undone, make your house feel out of control? Pet hair on the sofa? Books on the kitchen table? Dust on the computer screen? Please share!