Life's too short to spend time doing something you don't enjoy - but where does cleaning fit into that ethos?
There’s little that feels nicer than putting your feet up in a home that is neat and tidy, and gleaming all over with the fruits of your efforts – in other words, a home you’ve just cleaned from top to bottom. But rewind a few hours and the thought of picking up that vacuum or scrubbing brush is about as far from appealing as it’s possible to get. What you really want to do is jump straight to the lovely results, without all that mess in between. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if cleaning could just be a bit more… fun?
EMBRACE THE ART OF TIDYING
In need of focus
I have a friend who spends hours each day meditating. He sits quietly and relaxes inside his own head. He is a wonderful, chilled man. Not all of us can do that. I, for example, can’t just sit and meditate: either I find myself falling asleep or I get so distracted I forget what I’m doing. If I want to focus my mind, I need to be doing something with my hands. Cleaning is the perfect meditative activity. It is repetitive but generally not intellectually challenging. As you wipe and polish, pay attention to what you are seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling. All sorts of thoughts will drift into your mind; calmly acknowledge them, let them go and return to what your senses are telling you. Hopefully you’ll emerge from this process with a cleared mind as well as a clean home.
Why does cleaning feel like such a chore? Because it’s hard work. What else is hard work? Exercise. Why not combine the two and make cleaning part of your workout regime? Anyone who has seen The Karate Kid knows that cleaning the car, for example, is a great way to train to be a martial arts champion. How can you make cleaning feel more like exercise? Get your heart rate going with some energetic tidying, have a stretch as you reach up to dust some hard-to-reach spiderwebs and then start working your muscles as you scrub floors, polish glass and lead the vacuum cleaner around. Afterwards, why not treat yourself to a relaxing mini spa in your newly-glistening bathroom?
This is how you do it: put your favourite music on, turn it up as loud as you like and dance your cares away as you clean. Sing at the top of your lungs as you tidy up, à la Mary Poppins. It’s probably best done without an audience, but if your family or housemates are around, you’ll be giving them a good laugh – and spreading the joy of cleaning.
MAKE CLEANING FUN FROM ROOM TO ROOM
Take a leaf out of the book of Astrid Lindgren’s heroine Pippi Longstocking and combine cleaning the kitchen floor with ice skating. Pippi ties scrubbing brushes to her feet, pours soapy water all over the floor and then skates around to clean it. For an option that doesn’t leave your kitchen soaking wet, why not mop as normal, then put dry cloths underneath your shoes and do your very best Torvill and Dean impression to dry the floor?
Many of us keep some of our most treasured souvenirs and mementoes in our living rooms – whether they be photographs, ornaments, or libraries of our favourite books. Unfortunately, these precious objects are adept dustcatchers. Next time you’re dusting, take a trip down memory lane and as you wipe and polish, bring to mind the person who gave you that ornament, revisit the moment that photo was taken or recall the contents of a novel you read long ago. It may take longer, but isn’t this why we hang on to all those lovely things in the first place?
Ironing can be something to look forward to if you combine it with watching something on TV. Anything will do, from talk shows to extended series on Netflix, but I find it goes particularly well with classic black-and-white movies. Why not try Casablanca, The Philadelphia Story or The Apartment to get started?
I’m sorry to tell you that I’m absolutely stumped here – I can’t think of anything fun about cleaning the bathroom, so we’re going to need to get creative. How about this: do it first, get it out of the way and move on to happier tasks. And if you already have a tried-and-tested method of bringing joy to bathroom cleaning banality, please get in touch.
Illustration by: Ellice Weaver