The sink is full of dishes, the laundry's piling up and you could write your name in the dust that's gathered on the bookshelf. But even with all of the mess, you can't seem to bring yourself to clean it up. Whether it's because the mess is too big, you don't have the time or cleaning up is just too much work or too boring, there are times when it's hard to find the motivation to clean. It doesn't have to be that way though -- you can get the house cleaned up and still have time to have fun.
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to clean is to invite people over. You don't want your guests to have to wade through piles of toys and unopened mail to find a place to sit or place a drink, which makes having company a powerful motivator. Invite friends for a dinner party or game night, or offer to host the book club or play group. If nothing else, having guests encourages you to clean the public areas of your home. Besides, using this trick encourages you to have an active social life in addition to a clean house.
Divide and Conquer
Cleaning up a small mess is far less daunting than dealing with a big one, so tackle the cleaning in stages instead of all at once. Instead of saving the chores for a weekend, when you'd rather be out enjoying some free time, create a weekly schedule to break up the tasks. For example, vacuum on Mondays, change the bedding on Tuesdays, wash the floor on Wednesdays, and so on. Keep the clutter under control by doing a 10-minute cleanup each night before you go to bed. Put away toys, school bags and shoes, throw in a load of laundry and take care of the dirty dishes. If clutter is a problem, look for solutions to keep it under control. Give each family member a basket or bin to hold bags and coats, for example, or put a basket on the counter to hold mail.
Sometimes the biggest hurdle to any task is getting started. Once you get going, it's easy to complete to task -- or at least it's not as bad as you thought -- but you have to take that first step. Motivate yourself to clean by setting a timer. Give yourself 20 or 30 minutes to complete a task; once the timer goes off, you can decide whether to keep going or do something else. Chances are, you'll find that you want to keep going. Rewards are another powerful motivator, especially for kids. Get the family to help with the promise of ice cream or a fun excursion once the house is clean. Turn on some music, dance while you mop and make cleaning fun.
If making a good impression or getting a treat isn't motivation enough, let the negative effects of a dirty house inspire you to clean. Dust, dander and other allergens need to be removed, or you risk exacerbating allergies. Dirty dishes and food crumbs attract pests such as ants and rodents. And if anyone in the house has been sick, the bacteria and viruses can live for days on household surfaces and potentially spread the illness. Keeping the house clean helps keep you healthy, which is a powerful motivator.