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How Can You Clean (or do anything) If You’re In Survival Mode?
December 20, 2018
Have you ever just not felt like cleaning or not been able to keep up? Or have you found yourself at a place where you don’t even know how or where to start? I definitely have! Today I’m talking about survival mode, how we all deal with it, and what’s the best way to get through it.
We brought home a new puppy a little over a week ago and even though we have a two year old dog, I had forgotten that you really can’t do much of anything when you have a new puppy – isn’t she cute? Want to sit down for 2 minutes? That’s when they’ll find the corner of the new coffee table and chew it. You just took them out to potty fifteen minutes ago, no problem, they still have to go on the carpet. Being woken up multiple times during the night? I don’t deal well. This experience over the last couple weeks got me thinking about all the times we’ve been in survival mode and didn’t feel like cleaning or doing anything for that matter. I thought I’d talk you through my process and what I do to sort of stay on task and on track through these survival mode scenarios. If you’re in one right now, I feel for you. Or maybe you are coming out of survival mode, tell us what worked for you!
Let’s talk about survival mode scenarios – some might be for an afternoon, most for a longer period of time. Each one requires care and time to move forward – be gentle with yourself and give yourself plenty of grace.
- 1st (or any trimester) of pregnancy
- a new baby
- change of sleep schedule (waking up with a baby, sick child, insomnia)
- potty training a child
- packing for and coming back from vacation (laundry, laundry, laundry)
- packing, house for sale, moving, unpacking
- illness – short or long-term
- death of a loved one
- a new pet
- a new school year
- unexpected change of plans
- new job
- not feeling like cleaning for an extended period of time
What do all of these survival mode scenarios have in common? CHANGE
What is the key to riding out change and any situation? FLEXIBILITY
How can you prepare yourself for survival mode scenarios? KNOW THAT THEY WILL HAPPEN AND PLAN FOR WHEN THEY DO
Here’s the thing. We can plan for all the good things and we all love those perfectly well-laid plans, but that’s all they are. Plans. It’s okay when things don’t go perfectly, laugh off what you can and figure out a way to handle the rest. We planned for a puppy, but we didn’t plan for our kids to have an unexpected week off of school and for one of our kids to have pneumonia during this same time. Was it a tough week? You bet! We’re on the other end of it and while my to-do list is still more unchecked than checked, the puppy is going to the bathroom more outside than inside and our kiddo is on the mend and back at school. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that I get it, I understand survival mode and survival mode is why I need my cleaning routine.
How do I jump back into a routine when everything feels like it’s off the rails?
First of all, I know that most things are temporary. Three kids and 40+ years of life gives me a lot of proof in this theory. I remember thinking I’d be waking up every hour and a half for the rest of my life to feed my always-hungry middle child. I also know that potty training is different for each child but it does end. Most bouts with illness end just when you think they won’t. A bad day? Those end too.
I created my cleaning routine years ago when I was sick of spending my precious weekends cleaning. What’s worse than cleaning on a weekend? Missing a weekend and not being able to catch up until the next weekend. Then you’re really in survival mode. Laundry is left in mountains, bathrooms need a good cleaning, dishes are piled up, messes are strewn from one end of the house to the next.
With no end in sight, you don’t know where or how to start.
Can I just give you some advice? Trust me. Don’t do it all on the same day – that ends in frustration and failure. As someone that has tried to do it all and failed, just do a little bit every day. My cleaning routine is built on these things:
- everyday a little something (not everything, never everything)
- consistency is key
- do what you can – even 5 minutes spent cleaning the bathrooms is better than nothing!
- stop trying to figure out a ’system’ – chances are, you’ll spend so much time getting a system that’s just right that you’ll burn out before you get started (I have lots and lots of letters from readers that back this up).
What do I do when we’re in survival mode?
I try to do one or two of my 5 daily tasks (make beds, laundry, clutter, wipe counters, check floors) that I know will make me feel better. Usually it’s to continue with a load of laundry every day and to wipe the kitchen counters and keep the sink empty.
How do I get back on track?
Just start on the day you’re ready to start on! Everyone’s back on the mend and you feel like cleaning on a Tuesday? It’s dusting day. Do you best and don’t worry about catching up on what you missed during the week(s) that you weren’t able to clean. Once Friday rolls around, it’s Catch-All Day – it’s a day to catch up on uncompleted tasks and/or it’s a day to do things that will make your weekend and upcoming week run smoothly. I do my menu planning and grocery shopping and sit down with my planner for the week ahead. Here’s my start here page if you are new to my routine! I’ll be doing my January Clutter Challenge too – stay tuned for that!
How can you implement my cleaning routine in the quickest, easiest way?
Just start! I have oodles of resources at the ready for you. You can start with my free monthly calendar or if you want to just jump in with both feet and make 2019 your year to finally get all things home under control, go grab a subscription to Homekeeping Society.
Here are a couple more posts that might be helpful, depending on your situation – click the image to go to the post.