One of the hardest things I’ve found since having my second child is keeping on top of the mess in our house – the toys, the books, the clothes, the stuff! Our house isn’t big, it’s an old worker’s cottage with limited storage space, so I’m constantly trying to utilise buckets and baskets to store toys, books etc. It’s an ongoing, daily slog and I’ve been trying to work out how to get motivated to clean when overwhelmed by mess!
You know the scenario. More birthdays bring more toys, growing children means more clothes, going to school and childcare means more artwork is brought home. A little bookworm means we have books EVERYWHERE. Add a busy mum who hasn’t had time to sort out clothing and toys for Vinnies means there are draws full of clothes that no longer fit and way too many toys for my liking. All of this equals OVERWHELM!
How to clean a messy house when you don’t know where to start
You know the feeling being overwhelmed by a messy house. You look around and dread having to start the tidy up. Actually, you just don’t know where to start.
House clutter is an instant demotivator for me. I used tell myself it that having a messy house was OK because I was a busy mum with two young kids and although some people can look past it, being a work from home mum means I have to look at it every single day if I don’t get on top of it (and that’s often).
My motivation to clean is knowing how good I feel when it’s done, I sort of compare it to exercise. You know the feeling of not wanting to go for that run or go to the gym but when you do, you feel amazing? It’s the same with cleaning. If I clean the house, first and foremost, I do it for me. But (and there’s always a but), this isn’t always quite enough for me to take that first step to clean a horribly messy house. I need a routine and once I get into this routine, cleaning becomes easier and I’m more motivated to do it.
How to clean a messy house
‘Help, my house is a mess!’ or ‘Help, my house is so cluttered I don’t know where to start!” If either of these sound like you and you’re drowining in clutter, mess and lack motivation, messy house help is here. Here are my tips for tackling a messy house.
1. One at a time
I always find the best place to start is in one space. Don’t be tempted (like I always am) to move on to another room or space because doing this will take twice as long. Whether it’s a drawer, a shelf or a room, spend 10 minutes and see how you go. If you’re on a roll, move onto the next space after 10 minutes. Tackling clutter in small chunks is often the easiest.
2. Set rules
When it comes to cleaning a very messy house, rules are very important because they keep you on track. Determine what gets thrown out/donated by setting rules. For example, if you come across toys that are getting in the way, ask yourself if your child has played with it in the last month? Is it still working or is it broken?
3. Make baskets your friend
When my house is a mess and I need a quick fix, I love buckets and baskets. It’s a tidying up tip for overwhelmed mums that I love and although it may not solve the problem of having too much stuff, it will quickly banish the depressive feelings of a cluttered home. If it works, do it I say.
If you want to take baskets to the next level, try having three baskets – one for rubbish, one for odd’s bods and one for dirty laundry. Go around the house and put the clutter into the relevant basket and sort. Odd’s bods are things that either need to be put away, donated or thrown out.
4. Manageable chunks
Break down cleaning into ten minute chunks and schedule it in. Perhaps you’ll tidy for ten minutes in the morning, at lunch and then in the afternoon. Perhaps you can only fit in 10 minutes a day, and that is fine, just as long as you schedule it into your routine. As much as you’ll want to get it all done in one go, try not to put too much pressure on yourself because once you get in a daily routine, you’ll come to a point where everything is decluttered and it’s simply a matter of maintenance.
5. Get rid of clothes clutter
Clothes clutter is my biggest bug bear. I ALWAYS have a few piles of clothes going, and I still have a floordrobe no matter how hard I’ve tried. Robyn from Bless This Mess said in this post that people are more attracted to the items hanging in the wardrobe, not those on the floor and it’s true. I look in my wardrobe every morning and get frustrated at what is not in there.
So how to get rid of clothes clutter? Get your clothes that are lying around, group them on your bed into t-shirts, pants, dresses etc. and then decide whether it’s hanging material by asking yourself, “Have I worn this in the last 6-12 months? Do I like it? Does it suit me? Does it fit?” If the answer is no, you can donate or bin these clothes and you’ve made yourself some room on your bedroom floor.
6. Vaccuum bags are your friend
Ditch the floordrobe, declutter your linen cupboard and make vacuum seal bags your friend. I love vacuum seal bags because they’re perfect for the limited storage space we have. Out of season clothes or winter linen go in one of these and can be stored flat up in the cupboard until next season. It’s quite invigorating putting a heap of clothes in these bags and sucking the air out!
7. Kitchen first
The kitchen is usually the centre of the home where families spend a lot of time. When it’s messy it’s really obvious but when it’s clean, it can really make a difference. When you’re deciding where to start cleaning your house, start with the kitchen and it’ll motivate you to continue with the rest of the house once you see it shiny and clear.
8. Use the bed
When cleaning a bedroom’s, particularly the kid’s bedrooms, I always find it helpful to put all the mess up from the floor and onto the bed. I then use this to sort out where everything goes. I find it less overwhelming doing it this way.
9. Get help
Get your kids and partner involved! Delegation works wonders and gives you the help you should have when trying to keep the house tidy. Give everyone one task to do and it will take a load off you. Even better, the kids will enjoy it more if you turn it into a game.
10. Listen to your favourite music
Nothing can help you get the energy to clean a messy house than a good playlist. Send the family away for a couple of hours, crank up the stereo (or put in your headphones) and clean like nobody’s watching. Here are some cleaning playlists on Spotify:
Unfortunately, cleaning is a part of life but knowing how to clean a very messy house when it’s the last thing you feel like doing, can make it a whole lot easier. Remember, if it makes you feel really good after you’ve done it, use this as your motivation for the next time you wonder how to get motivated to clean when overwhelmed by mess!
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