Monday, August 13, 2012

The Cleaning Perfectionist

Happy Monday! I usually love Monday, believe it or not, because it's my designated cleaning day. If there's one thing anyone should know about me, it's that I love to clean. I am the queen of cleaning. Right now, my schedule permits for me to dedicate a whole day to clean my entire apartment, which I'm so thankful for. I know some people who clean in rotations and what not, but I do it all in a day. And since my space is so small, there's really not a ton to clean anyway. So what do I mean by clean my whole apartment? I dust and wipe everything down, mop the floors, vacuum (okay, usually I get the hubs to do this one), do all the laundry, and tidy everything in sight. Might sound a little overkill to do all that every week for an apartment that just two people and a dog live in, but I go nuts if I don't have my cleaning day!

Why Cleaning?

Why I love cleaning so much is still quite a mystery to me. I really don't know why some people are okay with never cleaning (and they're happy, too) but people like me are compulsive cleaners. Why such a difference? I think. But everyone is different, and I truly feel like I've always been obsessed with organizing and cleaning. When I try to pinpoint when it happened or why I am like this, but I just don't know. I just am! But I can think of a few reasons why I may love cleaning so much.

Control: Cleaning offers a sense of control for me. Sometimes I can't relax until things are clean (mostly just because I hate looking at the mess) but also because I feel like I should and can have control of my environment. When things are not clean and organized, I feel out of control and like things are chaotic.

Instant Gratification: Cleaning provides instant relief for me. I see a mess. I clean it up. It's done in a matter of seconds. There's no waiting. And voila! I am happy because I just made a difference in my environment that I can see.

Therapeutic: Cleaning is like cheap therapy for me. When things are clean, I feel accomplished and at ease. I can sit back and take in my clean apartment with a sense of relief instead of a sense of dread when it's messy. Cleaning also keeps me busy, and when my hands are busy, my mind lets go enough to find relief from all my busy thoughts. Whenever I have a bad day or I'm in a bad mood, I usually instinctively turn to cleaning to chill myself out. It's quite a de-stresser for me.

When Cleaning Gets Carried Away 

There could definitely be worse things to be obsessed with, but sometimes I feel pretty bogged down by loving cleaning so much. Sure, I get a sense of relief when I have a clean apartment, but how long does that last? Well, considering that I don't live by myself in a vacuum - not very long! Cleaning is something that doesn't actually provide lasting satisfaction because it has to be done over and over again. And sometimes I get so stuck in the mode of "I-just-cleaned-that!" that keeping things clean actually just annoys me to no end. The problem is when I place my happiness in cleaning, when I let the therapeutic aspects of cleaning become what I crave, and when I focus so much on whether things are clean or not as if life is so black and white, that's when the happiness is drained from me.

This is something that ebbs and flows with me. Sometimes I idolize cleaning. It does make me happy to have a clean house, and why shouldn't it? I just spent the whole day fixing up my place. But when I take that accomplished feeling too far, I am just setting myself up for disappointment. I have to continually remind myself that cleaning is temporary and fleeting. And I also have to remind myself to take things less seriously, to care less about the mess. This kind of thinking is like unlearning everything that I know, but I'd rather work toward unlearning my crazy thinking than continue thinking crazy!

I've tried to change my cleaning habits a few times, but it's pretty hard for the cleaning lady in me to resist a mess. Once I tried to limit myself to two or three times a day that I was "allowed" to pick up clutter. I did this in an attempt to free myself of feeling like I was a cleaning lady in my own home all day. I would end up wasting so much time just walking around picking stuff up. This was also when Beans was younger and it seemed like things were always a mess (oh, wait, that's still not over). But, just like when you go on a diet, the one thing you can't have, you want more than ever! So that plan didn't work out too well. Right now, I just try to keep in mind how much time I may be wasting picking up or cleaning. To me, there's nothing wrong with cleaning as long as it doesn't interfere with what I should be, want to be, or need to be doing. If there's nothing going on, sure, I can pick up for five minutes. If I've been trying to write a blog post all afternoon, I shouldn't keep getting up to fold the laundry in between! ;)

Are you a crazy cleaning lady too? Do you have any good cleaning tips that help you stay on top of things better?

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