My parents were hoarders and I lived in activist and or hippie/punk collective situations for about seven years, and now I even have a kid creating extra filth to clean up after. You can recover from being a huge mess and keep your rad politics if you want. Or you can just be a bitter crusty ex-radical like I am, but you can change. If I can do it, you can do it.
Here’s my advice for other broke-ass radical types who think that maybe it might be possible not to live in filth…
It’s really interesting what happens when you turn “should” into “could.” It makes even a shitty chore feel more positive. By re-framing a dull task you should do by using “could” it also makes you consider what opportunities might hide within. For example…
I used to freaking hate doing the dishes — to the point where I seriously considered buying new dishes instead of cleaning the ones that have been sitting for way too long. Now, I almost look forward to it. How did my outlook change so completely? Did I have a frontal lobotomy? Nope! I came up with some easy ways to trick my brain into realizing that doing the dishes isn’t so bad. These mind hacks are applicable to a range of chores and items on your to do list. Use what works for you, and share your own in the comments!
Somehow, I’ve gone from a person who found herself filled with resentment and rage while cleaning to someone who actually (get this) enjoys doing my chores. Somehow, I now understand the concept of “domestic bliss.” I genuinely don’t know when this happened. Somehow, I’m that asshole who shouts “LAUNDRY ZERO!!” with a sense of genuine accomplishment once all hampers are empty and all clothes are folded. I don’t know how or why this happened, but in the interest of bottling it and sharing it, here are a few of my theories…
Community wisdom holds that the three most stressful life events that a couple can undertake are changing jobs, moving, and death. For us, repatriation combined the first two major stressors while throwing in several others, making our first year back in the US a very tumultuous transition. When the customs officers welcomed us “home,” it felt like our idea of home had shifted from holding an endless sense of wonder to embodying a stack of drudging responsibilities. The towering mound of laundry only served as a physical reminder of this loss, and we were sulking. But, through trial and effort, we seem to have hit on a reasonable set of guidelines for building up the sense of self we both felt we lost, while investing in each other.
I am a terrible housekeeper. I’m also terrible at saving money. And talking about my feelings. And cooking (because I don’t plan ahead). And making time for my husband. At least, I WAS terrible at all of these things until… family meetings! I found a print-out somewhere in the depths of the internet called “Peek at the Week.” I showed it to my husband and he was mostly indifferent about it until I told him all of my amazing plans.
You can game-ify your home, but did you know you can game-ify the way you CLEAN your home? Unlock your inner champion for real-life rewards. Make a giant real life game out of your day-to-day chores to motivate yourself and your spacemates (while having more fun)!
The other day when my boyfriend was at work, I texted him to say “I’m exhausted and I just want to warn you that the dishes aren’t done. I’ll get to them tomorrow first thing.”
His response: “I hate to tell you this, love, but you’re an adult now. You can do the dishes whenever you want!”
My reaction in my mind: “Not true. I have a responsibility to my roommate to maintain this house in the way that I would want to live in it.” Then I caught myself and thought for a minute. Does living with your partner mean that maybe, just maybe, the entire home is now under our shared dominion? And that, within reason, I can decide what gets done when, just like he can? I still wasn’t sure.