It has been a long, exhausting day of work and errands. Supper is done, but the sink is full of dirty dishes and pans. Every surface in your home, it seems, is strewn with the detritus of family life, and no one is exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of helping you to tidy up. You might dig deep into your already depleted well for the energy you need to get it all done (and to motivate your family to help). OR, you might try something just a little different, a 4-step mental exercise, for getting through this last round of daily chores while restoring yourself in the process.
Start with a moment of appreciation. Your home might be messy right now, but it’s still shelter. And the clutter you are observing with dismay represents all the things that sustain, comfort, and entertain your family. That’s way more than many people in the world can claim.
Get into the feeling place of tidy. Rather than tuning in to how you feel just now — tired, frustrated, resentful that no one is volunteering to help — cast your mind ahead to the way you will feel — serene, peaceful, happy — in just 30 minutes or so when the tidying is all done. Now, take it a step further. How will you feel waking to a perfectly tidy home? Perhaps you will rise ahead of the clan for a quiet cup of coffee or tea. Or just enjoy a yummy extra few minutes of sleep.
Clean mindfully. This is the really important part as it transforms daily drudgery into a moving meditation that can bring immense emotional and physical benefits – less stress and anxiety, greater happiness, and more restful sleep. Instead of rushing through each task — and allowing your mind to wander freely as you work — slow down deliberately and focus intensively on each small thing you are doing. Begin to notice your breathing, and tune into your senses — the color and smell of the soap you are using, the textures and softness of the garments you are folding, or whisper of your broom as it moves across the floor.
Each time your mind begins to wander into something stressful or negative — such as tomorrow’s to-do list or the conversation you’d like to have with your boss — gently reel it back in to focus only on task and moment at hand. It might some practice, but using simple household chores to quiet your mind is much easier than sitting in meditation, yet it can have equally powerful calming and ‘happifying’ effects on your life.
Revere and savor. When your tidying is complete, remember to take a few moments to observe and consider all you have just accomplished. Thank yourself for these acts of personal stewardship and nurturing, and savor the feeling peace you have created in your home with nothing more than your own two hands.