A clean house is all in your head

I am not a fan of cleaning, and I’m not particularly good at it. I wouldn’t normally remember to wipe down skirting boards or move things to clean behind them. I struggle to find a way of keeping my house in a vaguely respectable state without spending too much of my valuable time on it. When I google for tricks and shortcuts, I mostly find overly ambitious cleaning rotas that make me feel like lying down in a darkened room.

I did try getting a cleaner, but she was never any more thorough than I would be – and sometimes less so – so I didn’t really feel it was worth the money or the loss of privacy.

So I was back to square one in trying to stem the rising tide of chaos in my home. I will never have an immaculate show home, nor do I particularly want one, but I have found that I feel happier if my house is hoovered and my bathroom smells clean. The other annoying things about life are less annoying when your surroundings are pleasant. It can actually have a pretty profound effect on my state of mind.

The problem is I’m kind of busy. I work, I have 2 small children that leave chaos in their wake, I blog, I have a social life, and I even exercise. Where does cleaning fit into this?

I can proudly announce that after years of struggle (and basically inexcusable years of having a much messier house before I had children), I have figured out how to keep vaguely on top of the cleaning. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s working for me. I’ve found by changing the way I think about cleaning, I can be much better at it.

So here are the things that have helped me, in case they might help you too:

You don’t have to do it all at once

I used to plan to “clean the house” as if it were one big job. And because I grouped a large set of tasks together into one, the enormity of the task simply grew in my mind. I would get all stressed thinking about all the cleaning I had to do. I would need to have a cup of tea and a nap to prepare myself for the arduous task. I would end up procrastinating all day and never do any cleaning.

So, I don’t “clean the house” anymore. I do discrete cleaning tasks, as and when I can. If I have a few spare minutes, I run the hoover around just the downstairs, or I’ll pop upstairs and clean the bathroom surfaces. Sometimes I’ll then feel like doing more, and sometimes I won’t. You can prioritise the tasks that need doing, and do just one at a time, when you have time. I’ve actually found this approach saves me from utter boredom sometimes. When I pick up my phone to scroll Facebook for the 27th time in a day, I decide to get out the Mr Sheen instead.

You don’t need to have a set routine

I used to think I needed to hoover the whole house and clean the bathroom every week, and tidy and dust and mop etc etc etc. Now, I clean things when they start to look dirty. I am not a pre-emptive cleaner. If it is dirty, I clean it. If not, then it can wait until later.

You also don’t need to try and work out which cleaning tasks you do on certain days. This helps some people, and I see a lot of these lists around the internet, but for if you’re a cleaning slacker like me, it might just make you feel a bit stressed. Do the task that you dislike the least first. It’s better than doing nothing.

Seize the day

Sometimes you’re not particularly busy and you notice that something is looking a bit mucky. Why not just quickly wipe it down right this minute? It will only take 5 minutes, but if you put off a small task like that or add it to your burgeoning list of tasks to do later, it will just get bigger (in your head at least).

Get a cordless hoover if you can

If you can afford a cordless hoover, it’s a total game changer. Sometimes getting out “the big hoover”, dragging it around and plugging it in is too much for me. I just whip out the cordless and hoover up a few Cheerios when I need to.

It’s totally okay to clean with wet wipes

Sometimes your sink is all full of toothpaste smears but you’re not going downstairs to dig out cif and a sponge, and then moving all your stuff off the edges of the sink. Grab a wet wipe and wipe that baby down. It’s not a thorough clean, but you’ll feel better if your sink looks clean.

Share the load

If you share your home with other adults, they should be pulling their weight with the housework. If you don’t, it’s a bit trickier – but never be ashamed to accept help where it is offered.

My husband and I have specific tasks and areas of the house that are “our responsibility”. These have been agreed based on mutual preferences. It takes a lot of pressure off to know that there are some things I don’t ever have to do! However, if I have a spare moment, then I don’t hesitate to do one of “his” tasks … and he helps me with mine too. That’s teamwork.

When the kids are old enough, I hope to get them to share the load as well. Their future housemates or partners will thank me!

Life is more important

Don’t mentally beat yourself up if you don’t manage to do any cleaning when you’d hoped to. Time with friends and family, and even with yourself, is more important.

If you have any children under 2, pat yourself on the back if you manage to do any cleaning at all. If you don’t, still pat yourself on the back, because you’re doing a great job ignoring those dastardly cobwebs.

On your deathbed, you are not going to look back and wish you’d had a cleaner house. You’ll be glad you cuddled your kids, your partner and/or your pets, and drank wine (or tea) with your friends.

What is your approach to fitting house cleaning into your busy lifestyle? Did you let it grow into a monster job in your head like me? Do you think the bitesize approach will work?


Mission Mindfulness

Author: The Mum Reviews

Writing about women's health and wellness (especially for mums) as I try to stay sane in my crazy life.

24 thoughts on “A clean house is all in your head”

  1. I love all of this! Most helpful for us has been including our six year old in everything we have to do, even if it’s just as an observer, such as when my boyfriend works on our vehicles. Bonus for me was getting some bins at Ikea for my son to put his own laundry away!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great article, thanks Nicole! I also do the “fit things in when I can” approach – mainly because I don’t seem to have large stretches of time at my disposal any more, in which to tackle “big jobs” at home. I hoover the play mat every day… for some reason that is always dusty and grubby once the toys have been cleared away (!) and try to do the bathrooms once a week. I try not to stress about it – though when we have Home Group it does make the task somewhat more urgent and pressing… nothing like a deadline to concentrate the mind, they say! 😉 I would also totally advocate getting the children to help. My 9 year old is great at hanging out washing, folding and hanging clothes when I need her to, and wiping down the table and kitchen surfaces. My 5 year old loves hoovering and is actually not bad at it.. he also thinks it is a fun game to “help Mummy to empty the bins” 😀 So I think I’m onto a winner. I also use stickers as a bribe (no, no I mean incentive!!) to ensure that they help me out round the house when I most need it. Everyone definitely has to share the load. Xx

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    1. Sounds like you are doing great! I agree it’s actually good to invite people round as it motivates you a bit. Not that they should be judging but it’s nice to prepare for guests. I hoovered for you before coffee the other day!


  3. This is a good post, I was on the same kind of rant about 2 years ago, when I realised that the cleaner the place was the calmer I felt, it also had the same effect on my kids and husband. I started to de clutter without realising at the time what minimalism was (that realisation came in a while later). Bit by bit, room by room I was surprised at how much stuff I was able to get rid of. The result is now a much calmer, cleaner home, I still have stuff believe me, but my house takes just a few minutes to clean, I’ve gotten so much out of the experience. I finally found that stage where people can pop in unexpectedly without me having a heart attack about the state of my house! Kudos to you for finding what works for you too!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! I’m still on my decluttering journey, it doesn’t end! I read a few more of your posts, I like your blog, followed!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a timer approach, I call it ‘dirt busters time’ ( think ghostbusters) bust as much dirt in 1-5 mins and then leave it for another day. I’ll put in my head thinking it’s only 5 mins. It almost always something I hate doing such as cleaning the bathroom or fridge/ cooker. And almost always I go little over my time, but in my head I’m only committing to few minutes so at least I get started. 🤗 I also get my kids involved like a game. We’re all dirt busters 😂

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  5. Ah, you sound like me but with a better plan than “wait until the shame kicks in or someone coming to visit”! I’m a big believer in dettol wipes and have quite a stash in my kitchen and bathrooms. Might out cordless Hoover on my Christmas list (what have I become?!) #thesatsesh

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  6. I’ve cleaned the whole house with baby wipes. I clean the shower while I’m in, and I’ve learned to live with the constant chaos that living on the planet causes! SO sit down, hug a kid, and relax a bit! #thesatsesh Like laundry, it will only get dirty again…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. #thesatsesh I love this post – i have zones that i clean. So, bedrooms are each a zone and bathrooms are each zones…i do one zone at a time. I like cleaning, but like you don’t have much time. I feel accomplished when a zone is complete and it may be hoover up or down…i agree my V6 is amazing and i totally heart it…plus it limits me to 20 mins fast hoovering 🙂 win….this post is totally achievable and inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know exactly what you mean about a clean house having a profound effect on the state of mind even though I’m certainly not precious about the ‘look’ of the house, it still can get me down when it’s a total tip! Some good tips here – I do tend to fit it in when I can now and I do confess to having a cleaner too! Are you going on Saturday btw?! It would be lovely to see you again xx #thesatsesh

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi, yes I enjoyed reading this, I’m sure my house is no tidier then yours. I try to keep it tidy but it is not. The kids make it so hard, mine are 5 and 7 and they create mess as I tidy. I definitely need to relax more and not worry about it as much as I do, thankyou.

    Liked by 1 person

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