I don’t claim to have any special knowledge of psychology outside of a minor in university, but I’m certain that there is a great psychological effect of both a tidy home and an unkempt one (one decidedly more positive than the other).
Psychology can be defined as “the mental and emotional factors governing a situation or activity.” I interpret the use of the word “governing” implies a lack of control…therefore when our homes are in disarray, we can’t HELP but be negatively impacted mentally or emotionally (whether we realize it or not). Obviously the degree to how clean or tidy we prefer our living space to be will vary depending on innumerable factors (number of children, size of house, love or hate of clutter, etc.), however the fact that most of us are innately affected by disorder around us – in my experience – seems universal. Why?
…how we keep our living/working space mirrors how we feel (and vice versa!)…
Speaking from my own experience, when I’m exhausted, I often let things go around the house. Ironically, by allowing things to stay/continue to get untidy, I become even MORE exhausted when mentally approaching what will be required to deal with it! Not only does allowing things to become untidy in my home create more physically exhausting work, it also tends to make me feel down emotionally. Like the chicken and the egg, feeling unwell/tired emotionally, mentally and physically often leads to slacking in the home, and slacking in the home often leads to feeling discontent. Are you dizzy yet?!
I’ve been on vacation this week (at home), and I chose to get the tidying/cleaning done at the beginning of my vacation so that I could enjoy the rest of my days off. I’m a bit nutty in that I’m unable to relax in my home if things need doing as I’m unnecessarily hard on myself with regard to getting things (too many things) done. By having (and keeping) things in order in the house this week, I was able to walk by a room and not feel the pull of to-do items that otherwise would haunt me. I also feel more peaceful because there aren’t distractions from being allowed to sit down and relax, or do something just for fun/me.
…clean vs. tidy…
I’d like to stop and qualify what I mean by clean and tidy as I don’t want to imply that my home is magazine worthy (by ANY stretch), or suggest that I’m some homemaking super hero that always has a tidy home.
When I say tidy I mean that things are generally put away, out of the way, and in the correct room and/or space. I do NOT mean (necessarily) in labelled bins, arranged to the degree, and labels facing outward. Clothes aren’t on the couch, hammers aren’t lying on the kitchen table, and counters are generally clear of clutter: this is my idea of a tidy home…which I think is totally do-able despite your circumstances.
When I say clean I mean that surfaces are wiped down and/or swept up: I’m not talking about Q-tipping here! Keeping things generally free of debris and germs goes beyond appearance…we’re talking about health! No, I’m not a germ nut…but it takes all of 3 seconds to give the counters and table a quick wipe-down.
While I strive to have a clean home, I’m very content to have it simply be tidy.
…making tidy work in a busy day, EVERY day (vs. sabotaging Saturdays)…
I like my home to be both clean and tidy, but I do NOT enjoy sabotaging my weekends with a full day or two of cleaning (though it definitely happens). How do we manage and still have time to enjoy our clean and/or tidy home? Some tricks I use:
- Take a cloth bag or basket around the house, hitting every room and removing any items that do not belong in that room. Make another circuit (either as you clean, or specifically for tidying) and put items back where they belong. If you have kids, a spouse or an extremely well-trained dog, get THEM to help put things back.
- Set the timer for your “tornado of tidy.” If you allow yourself ONLY 10-15 minutes each day to tidy/clean, you will still be able to maintain a degree of order while not letting it eat away at your precious time resources.
- Make your bed, every morning! I know, I sound like your mom…but a made bed can REALLY clean up the appearance of the bedroom and give a sense of order even if it exists nowhere else in the home. Also, it feels great to get into a fresh bed at the end of the day.
- Keep the kitchen counter clean/uncluttered. Walking into a clean/tidy kitchen can be far more inspirational when it comes to cooking up a storm, and it helps to prevent being exhausted at the idea of preparing a meal before you even begin. Also, it’s sanitary!
- Keep whatever space you enter your house from as tidy as possible. At the end of a long day, it can be frustrating to walk into a mess (even if it’s just shoes).