Sometimes whistling a happy tune isn't nearly enough to get you in the mood to tackle those nasty household chores like cleaning the oven and pulling out the refrigerator to vacuum the evaporator coils. When the prospect of scrubbing the bathroom grout leaves you cold, there may be a few things you can do to get yourself ready for the coming battle. It's mind over matter that counts. And when the matter is dirt, grime and goo, it takes determination and inspiration to grab your rubber gloves instead of heading out to a movie (or shopping) instead.
If you're the designated housecleaner for your family, you spend an average of 10 hours every month taking one for the team. Let's dust off five effective ways you can stop dreading dust and embrace your inner merry maid.
5: Get Organized
Want to deodorize the air in your indoor spaces without resorting to chemical-laden air fresheners? Combine one part white vinegar to five parts water in a pump sprayer. Spray the mixture as you would a commercial room freshener. The vinegar smell will dissipate in a few minutes, and the odors will be gone with it. It's a quick and inexpensive option.
If your cleaning supplies are all over the house and garage, it'll be a lot harder to get stoked about the prospect of cleaning. Anything you do to make the task more convenient will also tip the scales in favor of doing chores now -- instead of eating a cupcake now and doing chores next week.
Invest in a cleaning caddy, and organize your cleaning supplies for easy access. These plastic or wicker baskets are designed with easy grip handles and lots of room for spray bottles, sponges and other essentials. Better yet, invest in two or three task-specific caddies. Load one up with kitchen cleaning aids like oven cleaner and rubber gloves. Put another one together for bathroom cleaning supplies like toilet bowel cleaner and tile cleaner. When you aren't using them, stow them on shelves in your garage or basement.
It's also a good idea to take things a step at a time on cleaning day. Tackling one whole room will save you time -- and trips up and down the stairs. It also has a subtle psychological benefit: If you clean the mirrors or the brass all over the house first, you may decide your efforts haven't made much of a dent in the mess and get discouraged. Finish one whole room, though, and all of a sudden the prospect of making another part of your home look as nice seems more doable -- and more gratifying, too.
4: Quit Stalling
If you string together all the minutes you've spent thinking about and dreading chores, you could probably have completed them twice over. Then the guilt and worry would be behind you. Instead, you're at the mercy of that small voice in the back of your mind reminding you that the space under your water heater is filthy and probably ground zero for a new species of carpet-eating cockroach or attacking dust bunny.
A common stalling tactic is to promise yourself you'll do a really, really good cleaning job another day -- like the day after the kids leave home for college. The promised project eventually takes on such huge proportions that even a queen of clean would run the other way.
Begin by taking 15 minutes today to make tomorrow's chores a little easier. Pick up that pile of accumulated items in the corner, like the books, discarded winter jackets, toys and CDs. Ah, that's more like it. Tomorrow it'll be easier to vacuum because you've already cleared a spot. When you take cleaning in small, easy-to-do steps, it becomes less like a brutal long-distance marathon and more like a manageable inconvenience.
3: Open the Windows
If spring cleaning season has come to your neighborhood, nothing will give you better incentive for grabbing a mop and feather duster than opening the drapes and letting the sunshine in. Those bright beams will start you thinking about grilling parties and other fun outdoor activities. They'll also reveal colossal dust motes that'll look like a cosmic indictment of your cleaning prowess. When the skies are overcast, living in a cozy cave under a quilt is comforting. When the windows are open and the sun is streaming in, though, dusty furniture and dirty carpet look downright nasty. Those sunny slices of dusty air are a wakeup call if ever there was one.
2: Have Some Respect for the Task
When you have a busy schedule, it's easy to postpone tasks like vacuuming. Pesky chores aren't just about keeping your interior spaces comfortable, though. Cleaning extends the life of everything from your carpeting and drapes to your refrigerator. It also helps keep your family safe from harmful bacteria, mold and insects. Stop thinking about cleaning as a necessary evil and start looking at it as a proactive step you can take to protect your family and safeguard your belongings. When you give it the respect it deserves, you may feel less resentful about the amount of time cleaning will take out of your social schedule.
1: Look on the Bright Side
Cleaning can be therapeutic in a number of ways. It's good exercise. You can actually burn around 240 calories vacuuming for an hour. And you don't need an expensive gym membership to do it.
It also gives you an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with all your great stuff. Remember how much you loved that black lacquered tray when you bought it? And isn't it nice to take a closer look at that crystal candy dish? How about the carved, wooden candlesticks your dad made for you? It's easy to take individual décor items for granted once your room gets too cluttered to notice them. Cleaning can help you recollect why you liked all that stuff in the first place. Oh, and it can also give you some good ideas about minor updates that can keep your home looking stylish.