Hands up, I’ve never been a cleaner. I struggle to keep things tidy, and it’s fair to say that having children has been the nail in the coffin of cleanliness in our house. When the whole Mrs Hinch and her #HinchArmy thing started doing the rounds, I just didn’t see the appeal, and saw myself far more aligned with Mrs Hunch – surely everyone has a clean clothes basket that they take their clothes from, rather than putting them straight away?
We would tend to have a whole weekend once a month where we would tackle the tidying and do more of a deep clean, but it’s pretty depressing when you get to Sunday evening and realise that you’ve not left the house. I think with an extension and house renovation in the near future, I became a bit resigned to the fact that our house doesn’t really work for us and only saw the negatives, meaning that I was less and less inclined to try and keep it looking good.
But I do recognise the impact that a messy, disorganised house has on my mental health. I’m actually a pretty organised person, and I find it very difficult to clear my head when everything around me is a mess. And every year I find winter a very difficult time – I guess you’d label me as a fairly typical Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferer. I don’t know what it was that tipped me over the edge, but with the dark evenings setting in, something in me decided that I was going to tackle our state of a house.
The Epic Tidy
First things first, you have to tidy away the mess before you can clean. I did this room by room, slowly clearing through the piles of paper which needed filing / shredding / actioning, and the misplaced toys and clothes. When you tackle this room by room, I find it’s the most satisfying way to see progress. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have one room that’s your ‘dumping ground’ room. For us, it’s the dining room. It’s a walk through room and it tends to be the first room you come into when you get in the house, so naturally it’s where coats and shoes get taken off, letters get opened and dumped, and where clean clothes get piled up on the table, ready to be taken upstairs and put away (or not).
I knew I had to tackle this room before anything else – knowing that all the mess was piling up there was the biggest thing that was stressing me out. It didn’t get tackled in one day – I did this over the course of a week, dipping in gradually and clearing things into their rightful places.
With the dining room tackled, it gave me the kick start I needed to start tackling the rest of the rooms too, and suddenly I was on a roll.
Toy storage is a huge thing to tackle when you have children. We worked with the Great Little Trading Company last month on a toy storage project to organise all of the boys’ toys, and it’s transformed the way we use our living room. We use a basket system for different kinds of toys (Max’s toys, Ben’s toys, bricks, games and jigsaws), which makes tidying up so much easier at the end of the day and helps keep things organised.
Sorting Out And Selling
As I tidied, I unearthed things that I’d completely forgotten about, and that we no longer needed. Baby toys and other baby related things that Ben has grown out of and we have no more need for. As well as toys which the boys have outgrown, or lost bits of. I grouped these into three categories: sell, charity shop, and bin. I’ve taken to Facebook Marketplace and selling groups to shift the items we wanted to sell, which has been one of the more frustrating experiences I’ve had, but the feeling of decluttering is absolutely worth it. It’s amazing the impact that clutter has on your mental health.
A Deep Clean
I thought we’d been ok at keeping the house reasonably clean, but there are always jobs that don’t get done when you’re just scratching the surface, and when you start to examine things more closely, you start to see them all. The dust on the skirting boards, the finger marks on the windows, the cobwebs in the corners of the ceiling. I wanted a bit of a plan to tackling the cleaning, so I followed The Organised Mum Method’s One Week Bootcamp. I’m not going to lie – for a non-cleaner it was tough going, especially coming at a time when Ben was struggling with teething and wanted to be held a lot.
One thing I would recommend as a motivational tool is buying some new cleaning products. Smell is such an important sense and has such a huge impact on your emotional state. I do find that I can get used to our usual scents and don’t notice them as much, so switching up your products can really help. Before I started my cleaning project, I had a little trip to Home Bargains, where I stocked up on new cleaning products (and even finally jumped on board the Zoflora bandwagon – something I always scoffed at before!).
My Must Have Cleaning Products
- Astonish Mildew and Mould Remover
- Viakal Spray (the best limescale remover ever!)
- Method Wild Rhubarb All Purpose Spray (smells amazing)
- Cif Cream Cleanser
- Bloo Foam Aroma Toilet Powder in Blossom
- Zoflora (favourite so far – Honeysuckle and Jasmine)
4 Weeks In: How I’m Getting On
It’s been 4 weeks now, and I finally feel the house is clean and the day to day cleaning has become much easier. I’ve been doing a little bit every day, and I’m managing to keep on top of things.
The result on my mood has been brilliant – I feel calmer, and happier to be cosying up indoors on the days when the weather outside looks miserable. I think it’s fair to say that our house has never quite been the same since the children came along, but I’m starting to feel like we’re coming out of the difficult days and we’re taking control of things again. I just need to keep it up now!