After 30 years of being unable to consistently keep my house clean, I have managed for the last month to have a clean house every single day. It’s a trend I plan to keep (though I know there will be bad days, obviously), but the work it took to get here is not what I expected it would entail.
Last week I published the list that is keeping my family more organized. Today, I want to give you a behind the scenes look at what has been happening in my mind and the actions I took to create these changes.
Before I dive in, I want to explain why I wanted to create this change. Let me be clear, you can live a happy, fulfilling amazing life and live in a messy space. The cleanliness of your home and your worth/value in the world are NOT attached. You do what’s best for you. The reason I wanted to make this change was because the clutter and the mess were a constant source of stress for me.
Now that I am working from home, it was not sustainable for me to keep it messy. It was creating anxiety. I also found that it was very hard for me to create when the house was a disaster. Literally half my work week is content creation, so something had to give.
First and foremost, for years I have been studying life changes and chose the coaching certification program I did because it was based on five decades of studying sustainable life changes. Therefore, I already understood some core principles, which I applied to making these changes in my life. Before I started, I fundamentally understood that:
- The best way to change your life is to change something you do daily
- Focusing on ONE HABIT is more successful than tackling many at one time
- Changing your thoughts and what you believe to be true are the best way to reclaim your power
Last week, I blogged about my list on the fridge. This tackled bullet points one and two above. I had to put on paper what needed to be done daily and then create the discipline to use that list as my guide.
For that last bullet point, the more we understand ourselves and the way our brains work, the more we can use this information to our advantage.
To give you a glimpse into what is beneath my surface:
- I am a D on the DISC assessment , meaning my mind is HIGHLY task oriented
- I am an Enneagram 7, meaning I love to follow my whims and am easily distracted
- I have ADHD, meaning I legitimately forget things I start on a constant basis, and I have a tendency to hyper focus on projects that may or may not be relevant
Obviously, those are ridiculously shallow synopses of terms I used above, but those are the facets of the parts of me that manifest the most in how I do, or do not, keep a clean house.
In addition to understanding these things about myself, I also recently learned from a therapist that there are many reasons some people have a hard time keeping a house clean. ADHD is one of them, but another is the language they were raised with. This one was a HUGE “aha” moment for me.
I have literally been told my entire life that I am terrible at cleaning. Obviously there was probably some truth behind this, but the reality is, our brains absorb and believe what they are told. So since for 34 years my parents, siblings, husband and yes, even my 7-year-old daughter, have told me that I’m not good at keeping a clean house, I believed everyone. I accepted this as a truth about me.
The belief I held was that there are two types of people in the world: those who are good at cleaning and those who are not. And I believed that I am one of those people who are not.
It was about a month ago when I realized that it was highly possible that this was a programmed belief, and I may be able to change it. So I ran an experiment.
I decided to try on a new me.
I began to tell myself every single day that I am someone who keeps a clean house. I am someone who values and prioritizes living in a clean space.
It sounds so, so simple but inside it felt extremely strange. It felt like wearing someone else’s clothes to say those words to myself. I was trying on a new identity and experimenting what it felt like.
The list I published last week was birthed out of first changing what I believed about myself. I started with believing I was someone who lived in a clean house. Then, I asked myself “for this to be true, what needs to happen?”
I realized that many daily habits had to change, so I put them on paper.
The hardest part of all of it honestly was I had to prioritize and accept the reality of how much time it takes. Adding steps into my morning and evening routine meant there wasn’t as much room for other things.
For me, those changes manifested in two ways. The phone had to go. I cannot check my phones in the mornings or evenings. Even for 5 minutes. That little notification can derail me. That five minutes I took to reply to a DM was the 5 minutes I needed to use to put away everything sitting on the kitchen island.
I also have to go to bed earlier so that I can wake up earlier. My “put the kids to bed and then unwind with scrolling” doesn’t fit anymore. And I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me. I am training myself that I cannot sit on the couch and relax until my list is done. Often times the conversation I have in my brain sounds exactly like my battles with my 7 year old. “BUT I DON’T WANT TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and then I remind myself, “Sophia, you are someone who values keeping a clean house. This means that before you sit down you need to finish your list.”
Here’s the hard truth guys, I’m going to complain either way. Have you ever heard that saying that life is just about picking which pain you most want to avoid? I don’t get the option of avoiding pain. I am actively choosing which pain is worse. The pain of doing my chores when I am tired and don’t feel like it or the pain of waking up in the morning and feeling overwhelm everywhere I look.
In case you didn’t read last week’s post, please note that one of the greatest benefits of publishing the list on the fridge is that it empowers my family and everyone is helping to contribute to the work more, and I decreased my mental load. So the reality is, we are ALL powering through doing more of what we don’t feel like doing. I want to make it clear that I am not carrying the burden of the house alone.
Until we can afford to hire a maid to come and clean up after the family every day, we don’t get the option where we get to both have a clean house and not have to do the work even when we don’t want to.
The last thing I want to touch on today is grace. As you read this blog, please meet yourself where you are. When I worked full time 45-50 hours outside of the home with a five year old and a newborn, keeping a clean house simply WAS NOT AN OPTION. Changing thought work and habits was irrelevant information. It was survival mode to keep everyone fed, clothed and where they needed to be each day. The only goal I could aim for was to not have filth. Getting dinner cleaned up so no food sat out was the only goal I could aim for and often times I fell short.
The reason I moved this goal up to the top of my list right now is because I am in a season of my life where I am the only thing standing in the way. I work from home. I have a less than five minute commute to drive the children to childcare and about half the time I have the support of a second parent to help carry the load.
Please, take in all this information with a grain of salt and honor yourself with where you are and what is realistically attainable for you. Every single day from 6:00-8:30am and 5:00-8:00pm we are dedicating to the daily habits on those lists. It takes 5-6 hours of my day EVERY SINGLE DAY to take care of my family’s needs, my needs, and keep it tidy. If you do not have the time for how it would translate in your life, then find the most realistic habits to bring you peace of mind that are sustainable.
Let me know in the comments if any part of a behind-the-scenes into my mind was helpful you!
Sophia Hyde is a certified life coach. If you would like help creating sustainable life changes in any area of your life, schedule a complimentary strategy session with Sophia to see if working together may be a good fit for you.