As a new stay at home mom I struggled to keep my house clean, even months after my baby was born. I would dishearteningly stare at piles of laundry and my kitchen floor that hadn’t been swept in weeks and wonder, “How do the other mom’s manage to do it ALL?” How do you keep your house cleaner?
Until one day I realized a secret – they don’t – at least they don’t do it ALL in one day. That was when I knew I had fallen into the cognitive distortion of “All or Nothing” thinking patterns about my cleaning routine.
What is a Cognitive Distortion?
A cognitive distortion is “an exaggerated or irrational thought pattern” that often leads to anxiety or depression. We convince ourselves that these thoughts are true even when they’re not. One of these thinking patterns is called All-or-Nothing, and often happens when we tell ourselves if something’s not one-hundred percent perfect then it’s a complete disaster.
I was convinced that if I couldn’t clean my entire house in one day then it was pointless to try and clean at all. I wanted my house to be perfect all at once and I could no longer obtain that goal.
This All-or-Nothing thinking pattern was easy for me to fall into because when I had been working full time, that was how I managed my house work. I would set aside one day a week to clean the entire house, and during that phase of our lives, it worked well. But this type of approach to cleaning was no longer attainable.
How do you overcome it?
The first step to overcoming a cognitive distortion is to recognize that you have one. The second step is to replace irrational thought patterns with healthy reality based thoughts. This meant I had to accept that my entire house would probably never be clean all at the same time, and that it wasn’t a failure on my part. I had to come to terms with the fact that even if I couldn’t clean the entire house in one day, doing some cleaning everyday would be better than trying (and failing) to do it all at once.
So I adopted a daily cleaning schedule as well as a weekly cleaning schedule. These schedules are designed to be something that can be accomplished in a short amount of time. I usually only spend about a half hour cleaning each day. As I stuck to the schedule I was seriously surprised at the results I saw. My house was cleaner than it had been in weeks, and nothing ever became too overwhelming.
My Cleaning Schedules:
Everyday Cleaning To Do List:
- Make the bed.
- One load of laundry. Which includes washing, folding, and putting it away.
- One load of dishes.
- Sweep the kitchen floor.
- 10 minutes of quick cleaning. For example: Wiping down counters, putting the toys away.
Weekly Cleaning Schedule:
Monday: Wash/Change the bedding. Do 15 minutes of yard work (if needed.)
Tuesday: Dust and Vacuum
Wednesday: Mop kitchen and Bathroom floors
Thursday: Clean the Bathroom
Friday: Empty the fridge of old food. Sort through/shred mail.
Saturday: Grocery Shopping
Sunday: Plan for upcoming week/Rest Day.
What were the results?
If you’re struggling with the same All-or-Nothing thinking about housework, I hope this article encourages you. Change your mindset and try a new approach. Even though my house many not be entirely clean ALL of the time, it’s now mostly clean the majority of the time.
Not only has this made my life easier, but now instead of feeling anxious and discouraged about my housework, I feel a sense of accomplishment each day. It is possible to keep your house cleaner!