How to Clean When You’re Overwhelmed by the Mess

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This post about how to clean when you’re overwhelmed by the mess is the seventh in a series of homemaking posts that will be going live over the next several days.

All of them are linked below and will be available once they are live.

mom overwhelmed by the mess

You know when the house is a total mess and it looks like a bomb has gone off? You want it to be clean but you don’t even know where to start.

There are toys from one end to the other, crumbs and sticky messes, laundry that needs to be put away, and dishes piled on the bench.

It seems like an impossible challenge.

But it isn’t. You can do it and the following tips will go a long way toward helping you do just that.

#1 Make a List

Sometimes our own minds stop us from moving forward because our thoughts are just swirling around and around in our heads.

The best way to put an end to that is to write a list.

Grab a notepad or use your whiteboard and start writing down everything that needs to be done.

Go into as much detail as you need to in order to feel as though you’ve been able to “brain dump”.

#2 Just Start

Once you know what tasks need addressing the next step is to just start.

Your house is not going to clean itself and as much as the task seems daunting, it will certainly never be conquered without you getting up and beginning.

#3 Set a Timer and Focus on One Job

One of my favorite things to do when I feel as though there is a massive amount of cleaning to do is to use a timer to motivate myself.

There’s something about having a timer set that gets your butt into gear and stops you from getting so distracted.

It is also something that helps my kids to focus when I need them to clean up their toys.

I love our Google Home Mini for this because I can set the timer and have music playing at the same time. It is a time-saver because I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to set it up.

Plus, if my hands are wet from cleaning it isn’t an issue because it is all voice-controlled.

#4 Start with the Floor

Some may advise you to start with countertops, but I always like to start with the floor.

Having the floors clear just seems to make the whole cleaning job that much easier.

It is kind of like a snowball effect. Complete one job and it motivates you to tackle another. It is like a snowball that starts out small and then picks up more snow and grows as it rolls along.

The one exception to the floors is vacuuming. I always save that until last so that all the dust and crumbs can be wiped off of the counters and shelves first.

#5 Break it Down into Areas

Tackling the mess in your entire house all at the same time is overwhelming for anyone.

You’re very likely to get burnt out and despondent halfway through, so instead, focus on just one area at a time and complete all the jobs for that room.

This post goes over how to do that and how to get it done in record time!

Here’s a quote that I love so much:

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

It is also a good idea to prioritize areas.

For instance, for me, living areas always come first. It is where we spend most of our time as a family and also what our visitors will see when they come over.

Next is the bathroom.

Bedrooms come last because ours are small and are mostly just used for sleeping. The children’s toys live in our playroom.

toddler cleaning

#6 Enlist Your Children

If your child is at least age two, they can be helping to clean up alongside you.

Set them simple tasks that they can do without too much supervision. One of my go-to’s is dusting the skirting boards.

The other job that my kids do well is picking up dirty laundry and putting it in the hamper.

Make a list of jobs that you know they are capable of doing independently and use them when you need to tackle the mess.

Working together as a family is always a good thing and will teach your children responsibility.

#7 Put on Music

Make the task of tidying up fun by playing some music.

Sometimes I even have a podcast going, but just pick something that motivates you and lifts your spirits so that the whole experience is a little more enjoyable.

#8 Grab a Basket

A great way to pick up things quickly is to have a great big basket or hamper that you can fill up as you walk around your home.

Start with your living area and put anything that doesn’t belong there into the basket.

This is also a great tactic to use if you live in a two-story home.

Fill up a basket and then leave it at the bottom of the stairs to take up when you get a chance.

#9 Put Things Where They Belong (No Piles!)

It is super tempting to just move a pile of mess from one room to another, but that is going to create problems long term.

Make an effort to put things where they belong as you tidy up.

Clean clothes go in the drawers and closets, not in a pile on the floor.

I know how tempting it is to just put stuff aside to deal with later, but the truth is that later often doesn’t arrive and your house just becomes cluttered.

The secret to knowing how to clean when you’re overwhelmed is to simply break it down until you’re not overwhelmed anymore.

This strategy can be applied to so many areas in life, but as busy moms that are constantly cleaning up, it is really helpful.

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