House Cleaning Strategy for the ADHD Person

You will need cleaning supplies.
Photo: Sanja Gjenero – http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lusi

Imagine this. You wake up at 5 a.m., hours before your alarm goes off, on your day off. After making a cup of coffee/tea, you bound and leap gleefully around your home, singing with joy, because it’s the day you clean your home. Yay for dust-sucking Swiffers! Yay for lemony-fresh all purpose cleaner! Yay for microfiber!

What? You mean you don’t look forward with breathless anticipation to cleaning day? No?

Ok, maybe I’m not that enthusiastic either but you know why I look forward to cleaning the house? Because any visual distraction, like a mess, has the following effects on me:

  • decreases productivity (I distract myself with TV or Pinterest to avoid the situation.)
  • increases anxiety (I can’t find things and get upset.)
  • increases inattentiveness (I can’t remember why I go to a particular room or I burn things when cooking dinner and get upset.)
  • triggers gloomy attitude (I feel despair/embarrassed because my house looks horrible and get upset.)

I’ve read enough research to be able to say that it’s essential for people with ADHD to keep their homes organized and clean because a sloppy environment is especially bad for our overall wellbeing. But it’s also very hard for people with ADHD to keep their homes clean and organized. So when I come across an article like “10 Tips for Keeping a House Clean Despite ADHD” I click and read, because I can always use a new tip or two to help keep things clean and tidy.

Author Renee Culver lists the following as her tips:

  • Be realistic – understand you can’t clean for hours without burning out
  • Identify the hot spots – focus on the areas that tend to get cluttered
  • Team up – make the family help you
  • First things first – prioritize tasks that help the entire family
  • Develop a routine – in the past, housekeepers would focus on a specific task each day. Monday for laundry, Tuesday for vacuuming, and so forth.
  • Do it in spurts – break tasks down into small groups
  • Consider having less
  • Hire a professional

All good tips but I would like to take things a little bit further and present:

Suzanne’s ADHD-Friendly Cleaning Plan

Step 1 – Embrace Cleaning

I bet you really want a clean house but either feel too overwhelmed to tackle cleaning your home, or get distracted while you’re cleaning and run out of time. Like working, bathing, or eating, for example, you really need to accept that cleaning is a necessity. With a clean and organized house, you will feel better, I promise, because it’s soothing for your easily distracted brain. In order to overcome the initial resistance to the weekly chore of cleaning, take a few moments to remind yourself of the peace and tranquility you will feel when you’re done. Make it a ritual. Perhaps on cleaning day, you treat yourself to a gourmet coffee or dessert item (before you clean) while you mentally prepare yourself for the work ahead.

Step 2 – Make a List

I love lists, especially for tasks you don’t really want to do, like cleaning. Choose a style that works for you, whether it be breaking down the cleaning into a few tasks done each day, or a super list of everything done in one shot. You may want to group the type of cleaning, like vacuuming on Mondays, laundry on Tuesdays, and so forth. You could also group by room, like living room on Monday, dining room on Tuesday, etc. I personally like reserving a good chunk of time once a week and doing the entire house. This way I don’t have to drag the cleaning things out every day. Be mindful of procrastination. Use your list to remind you why a clean house is important and motivate you to keep going. And, don’t forget to add a reward at the end!

Step 3 – Create a Great Environment

Make a cleaning soundtrack and play music that makes you happy. Use aromatherapy to create a happy atmosphere while you clean. Buy cute cleaning supplies. Wear a tutu. Don’t wear anything. Do whatever makes you happy, I don’t judge.

Step 4 – Everyone Helps

Everyone in the house makes the mess, everyone cleans it up, and really, everyone benefits from a clean and tidy house. There is always something that anyone of any age can do. And at the very least, they can keep you company. Homework time for the kids is a great opportunity for housework. To get the family on board, create a reward system.

Step 5 – Be Consistent

In kindergarten we’re told to always put something back before getting something new. Follow this rule at home, religiously. It magically reduces clutter allowing you to get to the actual cleaning much faster. If you consistently clean your home every week, it’ll be faster to keep up with things because they haven’t built up. Instead of a back-breaking scrub, you might only have to do a quick wipe.

Still Having Trouble Cleaning?

If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning your home, you might want to evaluate if you have too many things. Often, homes are messy because the storage areas are overflowing. You can research organizational tips online that might help you downsize your things and organize what you have. A professional organizer can also help if you need to get over the initial hump.

If you need help with your technique, you can also research online for helpful cleaning tips. If you’re on Pinterest, create a cleaning board and pin your favorite tips so they’re handy when you clean. If you still feel that your cleaning skills are lacking, hire a professional house cleaner for a day and have them teach you how to clean.

Don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. I googled “house cleaning tips” and got 13,200,000 results; “home organizing tips” and got 17,200,000 results. Some of the top results are:

House Cleaning Tips

Home Organizing Tips

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