Cleaning and Clearing

I used to hate cleaning, because I looked at it from a  perspective of “Oh this is so much crap I have to do…ugh.”   Or I would get frustrated because it seemed like I was the only one cleaning anything.  While occasionally I still feel that “Ugh” sensation with respect to cleaning, I have found that much more often now-days I find it to be a calming, pleasant experience that I actually enjoy, not just for the results they give me, but for the way the process makes me feel.

One thing that helped to change my outlook on cleaning was thinking of it instead as “clearing” my house, or blessing it by clearing away negative, stale energies and inviting in positive uplifting energies.  When most people think of blessing their house they think of smudging it with sage and purely working from an energetic standpoint.   While I do think those practices are good,  I think since we’re living in the 3D we might as well accept that fact and work with it.

While physically clearing away the mess and clutter, you are mentally and emotionally doing the same thing.  I don’t know about you, but I feel much more chaotic when I’m in a chaotic environment.  It’s easier for me to be serene when I don’t have a stack of dishes sitting there taking up mental space along with counter space.

I enjoy not having to stub my toe on random crap floating around my house.  I also enjoy knowing where my things are and not having to frantically search for an item I may or may not have.  That’s a great money saver too, because it saves you from buying something you don’t need.  How many times have you gone to the store to get something you thought you had, but couldn’t find, only to find it shortly after making your purchase?

I also enjoy knowing that while my house isn’t always perfect, it’s clean enough that I won’t feel a horrible sense of embarrassment should we have surprise guests.  Part of what allows me to have my house stay this way is having a good system in place, we live in it, and make messes just like anybody else.  We just are more proactive about cleaning them up.

I’m sick to death of people making the assumption that if you have a clean house, you must be boring and you never do anything to mess it up.  Bullshit!  I’m just adult enough to clean up after myself instead of expecting everyone around me to do my dirty work.   I also have a system in place; a few things we do at our house that allow us to keep it in a fairly clean state most of the time.  Even when our house gets noticeably messy, it doesn’t take us too long to clean it.

For example, clean up as you go is a big one for us, the little messes we make during the day we clean up in short order.  This prevents the overall state of the house from growing too out of control to clean up quickly.  For example; often, after I’m done cooking something, I’ll rinse the pots and pans and utensils off before I even sit down to eat.  It takes only a few minutes at the most, and it gives my food a chance to cool down a bit before I eat it.  It also saves me time and energy that would be spent furiously scrubbing goo-caked pots and pans later.

We also reduced the amount of stuff we have and use drastically, we either donated it, recycled it or if we didn’t want to part with it, stored it.  Along with those things, we switched up some of the products we use in favor of items like castile soap.  This allows us to use one product for multiple tasks, freeing up valuable space.  Castile soap is also better for you and the environment.   Let me tell you, it makes cleaning a whole hell of a lot easier when you don’t have as much stuff in your house that needs to be cleaned, or taking up extra space!

We have also reduced not only our possessions but the amount of waste we make.  We make it a point to recycle as much as we can, or sometimes instead of recycling something, we’ll re-purpose it.  For example, I save old spaghetti jars for storing left-overs and other stuff.   This saves me trouble, time and money.

Something else that helps a lot is having a good system of organization for the stuff you do have.  We try to make sure that everything we use has a dedicated place, even old spaghetti jars.  This makes cleaning much easier because you don’t have to waste time figuring out where to put things.

The act of developing an organizational system also exercises your mind because you have to figure out how to work with the space you have.  In our case, space is pretty limited so we have to be creative with how we use it.  I also like to follow the guideline of working smarter, not harder.  For example, in the kitchen I’ll have the items I use most frequently in within easy reach, the items I use less often, I’ll store in the areas that are harder to reach.  Items I use together, I’ll often store together, etc.

Along with cleaning up as we go, we also devote at least one day every week to just doing a through cleaning of the house.  We normally do this on the day the garbage is collected.  I’ve found that working from the top to the bottom is the most effective way to clean.  So I start with dusting the ceiling fans and corners of rooms (actually John does the ceiling fans, he has a distinct height advantage at 6’7″ tall. ).

Next you move on to surfaces, like counter-tops, table tops, the stove, as well as the items sitting on those surfaces.  I like to have one spot cleaned off where I’ll set items down after I’ve cleaned them, so I’m not putting a clean object on a messy surface.   After that I will do the sweeping, vacuuming and mopping.  So basically top to bottom direction, this allows you to get all the dirt, and not have to worry about making something you just cleaned dirty while you’re cleaning something else.

Mindfulness is also an important part of keeping up a cleaning routine.  I like to focus on what I’m doing until it’s done.  This allows me to devote all of my attention to the project at hand, get it crossed off my list and move on to the next thing until everything on my list is completed.  I have seen people sabotage their cleaning efforts because they will try to do it all at once and feel like they are not getting anywhere , often giving up on the whole thing in the process.  They are frequently surprised at how quickly I am able to get stuff done like cleaning, but it’s only because I’m mindful about what I’m doing and not distracting myself with other things.

Finally, I’d like to share one resource that has been extremely helpful for me with regard to cleaning.  Like I said, I didn’t always have the attitude about cleaning that I do now.  This lady helped change my perspective on it a lot.   She goes by Flylady, and she gives a lot of great advice and information on developing systems and more importantly attitudes that will help you come to enjoy cleaning instead of looking at it as a monumental,  monotonous task.    The “Fly” in Flylady stands for “Finally Loving Yourself”.  I like that. 🙂

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