This Tiny Shift in My Approach to Cleaning Really Eliminates the Stress of It All

published May 18, 2022
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I’m in one of the busiest seasons of my life. 

My family’s getting ready for an interstate move, we just closed on our current house, and we’re managing a long-distance renovation on our new place. All five of my kids have their usual field trips and school activities, while I’m doing the regular mom stuff and traveling to visit my sister who just had a baby. Oh, and we’re welcoming a new puppy into the family in a few weeks, too. (Don’t tell the kids, because it’s a surprise.)

In the midst of all this packing, planning, and multi-tasking, it’s easy for many of my usual routines to go by the wayside. I haven’t been able to go on my daily walks, sadly, and my usual cleaning schedule has gone right out the window. Luckily, needing our house to be in order for inspections and walk-throughs has kept it relatively presentable for now. 

Here’s the thing: Letting cleaning go during a busy season can backfire, since living in a cluttered and dirty environment only amplifies stress. Maintaining a clean space, as tough as it may be, creates an oasis of calm that acts as an anchor in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. 

Keeping up with my housework hasn’t been optional. However, I have had to adjust how I approach these tasks for my own peace of mind. The shift has been revelatory, and my new approach has made impending cleaning tasks feel less dreadful and more manageable. Rather than looking at my cleaning chores as items that must be checked off of a daunting list, I now consider cleaning from the perspective of time. 

For example, instead of assigning myself the chore of cleaning the living room, a task that could stretch on indefinitely depending on how deep into it I get, I give myself a set amount of time to tackle that particular chore. 

This shift melts away the overwhelm and cuts through the procrastination. Knowing that I’ll be cleaning a designated space for a finite amount of time means I have an end in sight. In fact, having the parameter helps motivate me to get as much done as I can within that designated timeframe, making my efforts feel even more productive.

In addition to fostering more efficiency in your cleaning efforts, this approach is also an exercise in being content. Rather than allowing a self-imposed standard of cleanliness to take over and dictate how much of my time and energy I spend cleaning, I do what I can and then stop. I know I’ve done my best in the time allotted, and rather than being weighed down with what’s still not done, I end that cleaning session with the buoyant feeling of success. The best part is, I’ve now reserved a little extra time to enjoy a cleaned-up space. And dare I say it, I even get the chance to relax.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: This Tiny Shift in How I Approach Cleaning Really Takes Away the Stress of It