Recently we’ve been learning that there are a lot of things out of our control. With everything going on in the world, a lot of people have felt an endless cloud over their head. However, now that winter is ending it’s time to embrace the approaching hope of spring.
Part of embracing the hope of spring is…
Maybe that wasn’t quite what you were expecting, but hear me out…
Spring cleaning is not a phrase that has been lost on anyone. Many of us remember our childhood days of all the windows being opened in the house, music blasting, and everyone pitching in to make the home feel fresh after a long winter. It was a rejuvenation process, even when we didn’t want to pitch in.
One reason that spring cleaning can be extra important right now is that it can help people gain back their sense of control. You may not be able to do much to control the crazy in the world, but you can control the crazy in your own home.
We’ll explore why it’s so difficult for some people to get started, the benefits of making your house an uncluttered home, and dive into a few tips on how to get started.
Activation Energy- Why it’s Difficult to “Just Do It”
The idea of having a clean home sounds great to most people, however, the energy it takes to do so can be reason enough to leave your house how it is.
Activation energy was originally coined in chemistry as it refers to the minimum amount of effort it takes to create a chemical reaction. Psychologists have adapted the term to describe how getting started on a task is half of the battle.
Cluttered and messy homes have been associated with negative emotions/actions such as laziness, anger, and confusion. It’s been shown that there can be an increase in cortisol levels, the stress hormone, when homes are cluttered. On the other hand, organized homes have been associated with positivity, increased concentration, and decreased anxiety.
However, as much as we want to experience the good benefits of having an organized home, the energy it takes to get out of your normal routine to do so is what prevents you from getting started.
Thankfully this doesn’t mean that your house needs to be spotless, everyone has their own comfortable set point. For some people this means deep cleaning once a month and for others it means deep cleaning once a week.
You don’t need to focus on how others are keeping their homes, what’s important is that your home can become your sanctuary in its own way.
How to Get Started
There’s actually some research on the effects of spring cleaning and how it can help us feel refreshed. Cleaning experts and psychologists report that cleaning can have psychological effects beyond just feeling like your home is refreshed. They state that being organized and keeping things in order is correlated with individuals eating more healthy, being more generous, and even being more active.
If you’re struggling with getting started on making your house an uncluttered and joyful home here are some tips:
1. Set a timer
Setting a 20 minute timer and getting as much done during that time can help you get started without making yourself feel like it’s an endless task. Oftentimes, once you’ve started you’ll want to continue, it’s just getting the activation energy to get started that’s the hard part.
2. Evaluate items
Ask yourself, “if I was shopping right now would I buy this thing?” if it’s not a necessity and the answer is no, then get rid of it. Another tip for clothes is if you haven’t worn it in a year then it’s most likely something that you will never wear, so toss that into the Goodwill pile as well.
If you find yourself being very attached to items try to make a game out of getting rid of things. Some people tell themselves that every 5 things they get rid of they can buy themselves a coffee, or a treat. Try anything that gives you motivation
3. Get the family involved
Cleaning and organizing doesn't need to be a job just for the parents. Have your kids go through toy bins and closets as well. You can decide together on how many items they’re allowed to keep or give away.
Let them help with cleaning as well. It doesn't need to be spotless, but allowing them to pitch in can help them see the hard work that goes into making a house a home.
If your children have a hard time getting rid of things, remind them that they’re ultimately sharing the joy of the toy with other children who may not be able to afford brand new ones.
4. Set an end time- possibly with a reward
It’s easy for some people to get carried away once they’ve started the cleaning process. Set a time where you’ll for sure be done and maybe (especially if there are children involved) end your spring cleaning day with some sort of reward. Maybe it’s a trip to the waterpark or a favorite meal that gets cooked. Pick something that will let everyone relax and reflect on the hard work that they’ve put in to accomplish the day.
5. Always remember
Even though there are plenty of benefits to making your home a joyful sanctuary by keeping it clean and organized, it’s important to keep in mind that at the end of the day it’s the moments you share with your loved ones that you’ll remember, not if you dusted the shelves or not that day.