It wasn’t even 7 a.m. and I was scrubbing the gunk out of the bottom of a recycling bin.
And I wasn’t even mad.
I have a long history of rage cleaning. The madder I got the cleaner things were. A roommate’s snotty comments ignited my indignation? Clothing refolded, desk scrubbed and organized. Boss or employees aroused my ire? Bathroom sink and mirror sparkling!
I tried other coping mechanisms over the years but all were patches that solved nothing and created new problems. Rage cleaning, however, left a wake of clean and fresh — a result, I can assure you, that alcohol, food and throwing things do not.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
But lately, I haven’t rage cleaned nearly as much. It’s not that I don’t get angry — oh no, no, so not the case — but I realized it was a control issue and I’m processing things differently.
Talking things over with someone and understanding different perspectives are helpful methods of dealing with anger. Netflix binging is, while a method of avoidance, entertaining and effective in separating me from whatever is making me mad, and I emerge rational. (Happy to report, while the temptation is there, binging The Defenders did not make me want to Jessica Jones all over a negative situation.)
Action? Am I doing something constructive directed at the object of my anger? More than ever, maybe that’s helping.
But what isn’t being helped? My house isn’t getting cleaned as much.
On the 1-to-10 scale of life-importance, Keeping a Clean House lands at a low 5. It’s important for me to not live in a physically chaotic environment because it stresses me out, but there are so many more important things in my world that this one is dropping lower.
Honesty time! This is what happens in Villa Vollenweider:
Beds: I make mine each morning or else I will climb back in; I change those sheets each week and tell the kids to do the same. Maybe they do, probably they don’t.
Dishes: I go to bed with the sink emptied of dirty dishes because waking up to dirty dishes makes me feel like I’m behind before I start.
Dishwasher: Once a day, Brian starts it in the morning.
Laundry: Once a day, Brian starts it in the morning and daughter and I finish it most days.
Bathrooms: Once a week deep clean, maybe a quick wipe down if there is some grunge. Maybe.
Organize: When something stresses me out. That’s why I was washing the kitchen recycle bin before 7 a.m.
Cleaning for company? A quick clean and tidy. I’m not there yet, but my friend Kathleen set my goal-bar: “I only have/keep friends who don’t care what my house looks like. If I have to clean for a friend visit, that’s not my idea of a friend.”
That’s my house, what about others? I was curious and asked a group of close friends how often they do those specific chores.
They were all over the place. None were exactly like mine.
I went to a larger polling sample (read: Facebook post) and asked people to rate the importance of keeping a clean house on a 1-to-10 scale. Again, they were all over the place. The only majority agreement: most live in houses that are less spotless than the ones they grew up in.
There were those who personally required clean to keep them ready to handle whatever life threw at them, and there were those like my friend Valorie who didn’t prioritize it beyond, “I don’t want any old food or gross stuff that breeds other gross stuff.”
There was a time in recent history when admitting your house was messy was a societal no-no. Seeing something that stresses you out and doing something to fix it? That’s normal now.