Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cleaning is Like Dieting

Image Courtesy: lepiaf

Learning new housekeeping habits (or improving old ones) is like losing weight. Just as someone who commits to shedding pounds will work hard to resist chocolate cake and other desserts in the beginning, those of us who are trying really hard to shed bad housekeeping habits that cause clutter and chaos will need to be more firm with ourselves starting out. For awhile, it will seem as though we are over-compensating to the “neat freak” extreme. I think this is almost necessary, though, as we discipline ourselves to put new habits in place, just like the beginning dieter saying no to triple chocolate chunk cookies and eats some cherries instead.

After we have maintained tidier housekeeping habits for awhile, we can begin to lighten up, just as the dieter who’s maintained her goal weight for several weeks can add in previously “forbidden” foods. We can feel comfortable knowing that leaving a room a little messy for a day is not going to cause our home to approach chaos again overnight, just as the person who’s lost twenty-plus pounds knows she can eat three cookies or two brownies without instantly regaining all the weight she worked so hard to lose.

For me, personally, the biggest housekeeping habit I am working intensely to put into place is #3: “Say yes when others say no.” Right now, I need to be much more firm with myself (“yes, I need to do it now”) when it comes to picking up all the miscellaneous things that get strung all over my house all day. I need to firmly tell myself “yes, now,” when it comes to washing dishes, and—especially—putting them away (I tend to leave them to dry in the sink all day, even overnight). I need to firmly tell myself, “yes, do it now” when it comes to mopping the floor, even though I really never “feel” like doing it.

Once I’ve grown in these disciplines, I can arrive at that place of balance, where I can say “Not now, but I will later” with complete certainty that I will indeed do it later. Since I’m not there yet, I shouldn’t give myself that option, just like someone setting out to lose weight should really not sit down and down two pieces of cherry pie with four scoops of vanilla ice cream. Cleaning, and dieting, are really very similar, after all, you see!

Do you have a homemaking tip for getting it together you'd like to share? Please post in the comments section; we'll start link-ups next week, if you'd like to link up a homemaking post you've written to encourage the rest of us!


  1. I couldn't have said it better myself! Great analogy by the way. I'm struggling with the same issues. My family thinks I'm going overboard right now but I know I have to if I want to make it a habit or lifestyle should I say. I've found that making a to do list the night before and posting it somewhere I can see it throughout the day has helped me improve a lot!

  2. I totally hear you on this one. I sometimes feel myself getting bitter when my husband doesn't help enough with letting the dogs outside or picking up after himself. But what really is in the back of my mind is that it's not about that. It's just about doing it if you see that it needs to be done, and hopefully other people in the house will pick up on it too and do the same thing. Good luck to you, I know how hard it is to overcome that one.

  3. we have 7 people in a 1100 sq foot apartment and I am always looking for new ideas! I agree with you that i have to do it now or I won't get to it!! I am trying to get control of our home in less than 1 week, plus maintain my sanity because I am going to be having a hysterectomy and don't want to lay in bed/on couch and look at the chaos!!!

  4. Hi Crystal, thanks for the comments! I'm realizing, too, how helpful it is to take a few minutes the night before and think through some goals for the next day. Keep it up! :)
    Sarah, don't be afraid to ask for help! I heard once that our husbands usually won't mind if we ask them nicely, "Honey, can you please do --- for me?" They usually can't read our minds and just need us to be blunt (nicely) ;)

    Never Enough Time--hope everything goes ok with your surgery! Just invite your mother-in-law over in a few days; that is usually all the incentive I need to get things in gear! ;)