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Raise your hand if you enjoy living in a fresh, tidy, spruced-up space. Now raise your hand if you hate cleaning. Most of us fall into both categories! Especially if you’re home more than usual because of the pandemic, you might be craving the peaceful ambiance of order in your environment. Yet the clutter and messes keep piling up, because you’re always home!
You already know you should make the beds every morning, wipe down the kitchen counters and leave a clean sink every night, and tidy up throughout the day. The problem isn’t knowing what to do; Clean Mama or FlyLady will tell you that. It’s how to make cleaning less of a slog, and maybe even enjoy the time spent with washcloth in hand. Try these 5 ways to make the time you spend cleaning feel a lot more bearable — and even an occasion of grace.
1Offer up your cleaning work for a prayer intention
Anything can be offered up to God as a prayer, and doing something you dislike is a sacrifice that can be offered for the good of others. It almost seems too good to be true that your cleaning work not only makes your house look better but also can benefit someone in need of prayer!
Before you begin cleaning, choose a prayer intention and offer up the work you’re doing. You also can offer it up well after the fact: God is outside of time, after all! Offering up a chore you despise for a friend in need gives your work so much more meaning, and will help you stay focused and intentional about the task at hand.
2Indulge in nice cleaning supplies
Good tools make any chore more bearable. If you have to clean the kitchen, you can at least spritz surfaces with a nice-smelling scent, right? (Just be careful to avoid chemicals — there are some natural products out there that many swear by.) Whether it’s a sturdy mop, a vacuum, or simply a durable set of cleaning cloths, good-quality and long-lasting cleaning tools make a big difference.
The newest cleaning method: sunshine!
3Listen to music, a podcast, an audiobook, or a prayer
Blast your favorite tunes, or grab a set of earbuds if you’ve got housemates or kids wandering around. Whether it’s a riveting audiobook, a fascinating podcast, or just your favorite oldies, listening to something you enjoy is practically guaranteed to make cleaning feel painless. You might even find yourself looking for more stuff to clean, just so you can keep listening!
If you’d like to pray while cleaning but your hands are occupied, you can download a number of prayer apps, including one to pray the Rosary. Praying while working with your hands is an act of real contemplation in the midst of the world. In his famous Rule, St. Benedict wrote, “They are truly monks when they live by the labor of their hands as did our fathers and the Apostles.” You might find yourself feeling meditative, and a little monastic, as you fold laundry while praying the Rosary. It’s a wonderful way to grow closer to God through the daily round of duties.
4Set a timer
If time is in short supply, use this trick to motivate yourself and make the most of the time you do have. Set a timer for 20 minutes, 10, or even 5, than run around cleaning as much as you can before the timer goes off. No matter how many times you do this, you will be genuinely amazed at how much you can clean up in such a short amount of time. This is also an incredibly effective strategy to motivate kids to clean!
5Designate a time for cleaning
Maybe life is too busy for you to spend much time cleaning, and everything is starting to pile up. Here’s what you need to do: Don’t stress about the mess piling up, but make sure to write down a list of each chore you see that needs to get done. Then set aside a specific block of time each week for deep cleaning, and enlist the whole family to help.
Friday would be a fitting day for catching up on house cleaning, as it’s traditionally a penitential day. You might also choose Saturday, to prepare for the day of rest on Sunday. By setting aside this specific time for cleaning, you don’t need to worry about those bigger chores the rest of the time, but you know they’ll get done. It’s almost as though you’ve hired yourself as your own housekeeper!
To sweeten the deal, add a reward at the end, like a family movie night after your kids pitch in and do their part. Maybe you get a great cocktail or bubble bath at the end of the day. You certainly earned it!
Cleaning is something of a necessary evil, but hopefully these strategies make the job more bearable. If all else fails, like our Catholic schoolteachers used to tell us, offer it up!
The secret to a really clean house? It’s in the Bible …