Being the creative type means I
sometimes often get distracted from taking care of the basics in my home. When I go on a writing binge, or reading, or whatever I’m obsessing over at the moment and stop picking up my fairly clean house converts itself into chaos central. Any unattended flat surface becomes a breeding ground for papers, toys, dust, books, and lost cups and forks. When the house gets messy, I get crabby.
At first it’s hard to pin down why I’m starting to get more irritated. It starts as a growing unease, an information overload. There is too much to take in, too many little items calling for my attention. Each item represents a choice; put away, throw away, file, deal with. Even though clutter has sapped my mood dozens of times before, it often takes days before I catch on to what’s happening.
Then there is the actual cleaning as well, the vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, dishes, laundry, bathrooms, dusting, windows, and whatnot that eventually have to be addressed. Again, at first the slow accumulation of grime is hardly noticeable. But it is noticeable. And just like clutter and junk it, plays mind games with me. Each spot is another entry on an unending list of things to do.
Now, if I lived alone I wouldn’t have anyone else to blame but myself. The house would still morph into clutter central, it would just take longer. In my case I have help, plenty of help. Three young kids have the magical ability to create mess just by breathing.
As mommy it is my responsibility to teach these little ones to clean up after themselves, which can turn into a task much more exhausting and obnoxious than doing the cleaning myself. They must learn that it’s more fun to play when there is a nice clear area to do it. When their rooms are clean they are happier. So why is it like pulling teeth to get them to pick up anything?!? It’s one of the great mysteries of life.
When I get off of a creative binge and start picking up and clearing off surfaces, it’s as refreshing as breathing fresh air after being stuck in a poorly ventilated subway car. While stuck in the car you don’t realize just how icky it is until you leave and get outside once again. When things are clean, my mood lifts and so does the mood of my family.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy cleaning – there are dozens, if not hundreds, of things I’d rather be spending my time doing. I’m not a psycho perfectionist either, I’ll only scrub baseboards and deep clean when things get bad enough to bother me. Often it takes the promise of listening to a good podcast while I work to get me moving.
In the end, although it can be a royal pain, if keeping things clean makes everyone happier it’s worth doing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just kept under control.