The Quest for a Happy Haven: 10 Minute Clean-up Challenge

I have come to realize that one of the reasons I sometimes find my house in complete disarray is because I let the collective mess overwhelm me. I look around and I think, “No way can I get all of this under control in one short hour while my 2 year old naps” (or pretends to nap or refuses to nap – depending on the day.)

So I go escape to the computer and I try to get productive with my ever-growing list of things I need to write. When I hear the tell-tale voice of a little boy calling for me to come rescue him from the clutches of his bed, I glance around at a house that is still a mess, and I feel the stress start to build as I realize the post I’d worked so hard on was going to have to be completely rewritten and none of my to-dos were crossed off my list.

In order to live in a happy haven, those of us who are the designated home-makers have to find balance in when to prioritize cleaning, other obligations, and relaxation. As much as I like cleaning once I get started, it’s the getting started that is difficult for me. When I don’t get started, feelings of failure begin to take over as I realize that I am just not being productive with my time in that sweet hour of the afternoon where all mothers of young children are supposed to perform miracles.

So I’ve decided to take some baby steps and move on past the sinful thoughts of guilt and as well as the sin of sitting in a pit of mediocre while getting nothing productive done. I can accept a somewhat-messy house if I’m 100% at peace with the fact that I have all of my priorities in the right order.

Quite frankly, I sometimes use my blog as an excuse to avoid the jobs that I know need done. While there are sometimes deadlines that do take priority over how clean my kitchen is, often times I sneak in a few extra minutes of Facebook time because I want to give myself a break before I get started on the piles at hand, and that mindset is just not taking me anywhere.

So, I’ve been working to adopt a personal challenge. I am not the originator of the idea, and sadly I’m not sure who is, but I do know that I’ve caught glimpses of discussions about it on Money Saving Mom and Blogging with Amy. For 10 minutes each day, I am tackling one mess at a time to slowly conquer the collective mess that I sometimes feel that I dwell in.

Want to join me? I could use some accountability! Here’s what you need to do.

1. Choose an area of your home that you want to tidy up. Often times for me, it’s the kitchen/dining area. Over the course of the morning, it can get crazy in there with dishes, toys, mail, and a myriad of other random things.

2. Pick out some music and crank it up! On the days where my son is having “quiet time” rather than nap time, I need to listen to something other than him carrying on in the other room. As much as I love him, we both need a break from each other.

3. Set your timer for 10 minutes and get busy! Moms and teachers use this trick of turning cleaning into a game on our kids all of the time. Why not make cleaning up a game for ourselves as well? For some reason, racing against the timer to unload my dishwasher gets me all excited, and I do kind of feel like I’m having some good old competitive fun.

If you need some extra motivation, take before and after pictures. I did the other day when my kitchen was extra crazy after freezer cooking all morning. For me, the blurry camera-phone pics of my clean counter tops are like the stickers I used to give my students when they did a good job answering a question. Here’s what 10 minutes got me!

Also, I discovered that after 10 minutes when I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, I was already in the cleaning mode, so I set my timer for another 10 minutes and finished conquering what I had already started.

I haven’t been flawless in getting this completed every day since I’ve started, but I have discovered that my attitude is changing, and my house is more picked up when my husband gets home from work for the day.

Now it’s time for you to talk! 1) What tips and tricks have you found helpful in keeping your house more in order throughout the day? 2) Are you up for joining me on this challenge? Be sure to leave a comment, send an email, or post on the Facebook page your thoughts on this topic!

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