Can Fixing A Messy House Help Relationships?

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Can a good clean up freshen your relationship as well?  Judi, Emma, and Ted (our favorite wellness experts) suggest looking for five-minute chores you can do quickly and consistently. 

Tribune News Service

Are you upset about the toys, books, clothes and other stuff strewn about your house? Do neglected sinks, bathtubs, and floors give you a depressed feeling?

Most of us feel much better when our homes are clean, sparkling, and ready for guests to show up. If yours isn’t, don’t despair.

A busy lifestyle is forcing most of us to do less cleaning, stay on the computer a lot, and fight for a moment to relax or enjoy family time.

“I feel like a failure when my husband or kids can’t find clean socks or clean towels,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Mary Beth. “I work a lot, so I feel like the grime is building up. It’s affecting our happiness and our lifestyle. I’m drowning.”

She goes on to say that tubs of toys, a garage full of junk, piles of clothes all over the place, and books piled next to chairs are destroying her spirit. “I feel like I need a shovel to dig my way out of this avalanche!”

Keep in mind that almost every person and every family experiences this problem sooner or later. But, the solution is not that hard. Start looking for five-minute chores you can do quickly and consistently.

All of us have a mess because we failed to do the five-minute chores. We let them slide. They built up. Now, they are showing up everywhere. Digging out is possible, and you can see results pretty quickly.

These tips can help:

-Learn to spot two separate five-minutes chores in each room. For example, before you leave the kitchen, put dishes out of the drainer into the cabinet. Or, grab an armful of newspapers to carry to the recycle bin in the garage.

-Train yourself to straighten in short segments. Grab dirty towels in each bathroom and toss them into the laundry room. Quickly put fresh towels on the towel bars from the linen closet.

-Declutter at every opportunity. While your shower water is getting hot, pull old razors and washcloths out of the shower stall. Throw them into the sink and deal with them after your shower.

-Ask your family members to do five-minute chores. This includes these types of jobs: carrying the kitchen’s garbage bag to the garage, going outside to grab the mail, dusting the TV cabinet.

“I used to mentally collapse looking at our messy house,” laughs a nurse we’ll call Carla. “Every chore seemed an hour long. When I stared tackling chores that took five minutes, the clutter started shrinking. Then, I could sweep or mop much faster. I could run the vacuum with the piles of stuff off of the floor.”

Carla is right. Worrying about moving everything out of a room to clean is overwhelming. Looking at such a mountain of work makes us blame our spouse or children. We start to moan and whine because it seems like a gigantic problem. And, it is.

“Folding towels, throwing in one load of laundry, wiping out the fridge with a damp cloth, or sweeping off the front porch are small chores anyone can do fast,” says a father we’ll call Fred. “My wife and I try to do some chores while talking on the phone or waiting for dinner to cook.

“Once you convince yourself your five-minute chores are adding up,” says Fred, “you’ll form the habit of good housekeeping.”
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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