House chores. Something that to a certain degree, we all have to do. Yet, I’ve never come across anyone who finds them enjoyable. And quite rightly so – that would be pushing it, wouldn’t it? So if we can’t quite enjoy them, but we all have to do them, are there any ways to make them less boring? Or to give us that little incentive we need to actually do them (rather than avoid them like the plague?)
I’ve listed a few ideas that work for me. But to learn more, I’ve also asked some fellow parents, and they’ve come up with some brilliant tips to make housework less unpleasant than it needs to be. You’ll see that most of these points have something in common. We tend to do something else while going about our chores, to ‘take our minds off them’.
Listening to podcasts or other audio content
For me, cooking or ironing are good opportunities to catch up on my favourite podcasts. My current favourites are the Soulful PR podcast with Janet Murray, Pursuit with Purpose with Melyssa Griffin, and She means Business with Carrie Green.
I’m not the only one using the time to catch up on podcasts though. Pete from Household Money Saving says: “I download a podcast and listen to that whilst I’m vacuuming or washing-up. That way, I concentrate more on what I’m listening to, rather than what I’m actually doing. I only listen to football podcasts, and my wife hates them, so I usually have my headphones on!”
Also, Kelly-Anne from Mimi Rose and Me says: “I watch YouTube videos when I iron and listen to some tunes or podcast when I do everything else.” Debbie from My Boys Club says: “I listen to the Radio 4 comedy shows.”
Come to think of it, an alternative to podcasts are audiobooks. Ever tried one of those? Personally, I use an app called Blinkist, which allows me to listen to the summaries of some amazing non-fiction books, so I can decide whether I want to read them or not. I absolutely love it.
Listening to music (with some dancing and singing involved?)
Music is another popular strategy for making everything a little more enjoyable. Personally, I always have some music on when I work, or in the kitchen when I cook (when I’m not in a mood for a podcast episode). And music seems to be quite a popular option for many of us.
Jaymee from The Mum Diaries says: “I put on an album that I can just belt out as I do the housework”. And Amy from All about a Mummy says: “I’ve just discovered Amazon Prime music which lets me stream all kinds of different music channels without adverts or presenters talking. I just stick the phone in my back pocket, and I’m amazed at how much more productive I am when doing the housework to great tunes. The time just flies, and I love not knowing what song is coming up next!”
Cat from Pushing the Moon says I’ve got a Spotify playlist specifically for when I’m cleaning the house. It’s guaranteed to get me up off my butt and get moving!” Sarah from Mummy Cat Notes says: “I put the radio on or some YouTube videos and have that playing in the background. I often do that when I’m folding clothes, and it makes time speed past.”
Leyla from Motherhood Diaries says I’m a huge fan of music to keep away the boredom. Stick on Spotify on the stereo. Music helps so much to make cleaning less of a chore and more about prancing around and dancing to your favourite tunes as you make the house look awesome.” Good plan!
And look at people’s favourite artists and even tracks here!
Lucy from Tired from Withstable says: “When I’m cleaning I put on Magic or Smooth FM on and dance and sing to power ballads and love songs. My neighbours think I’m nuts but I get to be Whitney, Celine and Mariah and get the dusting done!” Result!
Ally from The SML Diet blog says: “Power ballads all the way. Nothing makes cleaning the bathroom more fun like The Final Countdown by Europe.” Oh, I can see that!
Lianne from Ankle Biters Adventures says: “I always have Heart 80s on when I’m cleaning. It makes it more fun bopping along to Whitney or Prince.” And Gemma from Somewhere After the Rainbow says: “I have a cheesy playlist of all late 90s/early 2000s pop. It makes the housework go super quick! Although I’m now slightly concerned that my 4-year-old knows all the words to Britney Spears!”
Whilst I don’t tend to watch videos at all when I’m doing something else, I found out that a lot of people do. And in fact, a lot of people actually watch cleaning videos, which is something I had never come across before. Had you?
Katy from Katy Kicker says: “I find that watching cleaning videos on YouTube helps me get fired up! (Speed cleaning ones are my favourite!) I tend to play them when I’m blitzing the kitchen or doing the entire bathroom etc. They usually have music on that just relaxes me but helps me focus. I’ll put one later tonight while I do my kitchen cleaning and make a lasagne in the slow cooker.”
Also, Kate from Mummy Kate Blog says: “I love watching speed cleaning videos on YouTube to give me motivation! You can find examples here and here. I then set myself a timer for say 10 minutes to see how much I can get done. Sometimes I’ll even send my friends a ‘before and after’ photo. Once I’ve sent the before photo, I’m usually that embarrassed that it makes me work extra hard to make the after photo look good!”
Pip from Pip Milburn says: “I like to watch a good speed cleaning video before embarking on a big cleaning spree. I like to see how peoples houses transform from a tip to lovely and clean. It then motivates me to do the same! Alternatively, invite someone over for a cuppa, you never clean as quickly as you do when guests are coming round!” Pip also wrote a post about speed cleaning a couple of months ago.
Tracey from Pack The PJs says: “I iron clothes straight from the washing machine, while damp, as it’s a lot easier. I set up a comfy chair and set the ironing board at the right height to iron while sitting down, and I place both in front of the TV. Then I watch whatever I need to catch up on, and the ironing seems to speed by! I then hang the ironed items on a clothes horse in the spare room until totally dry.”
Ironing whilst watching something seems quite popular. Bethany from A Blonde and a Baby says: “I HATE doing the ironing and try to only do it once a week, so I take the ironing board into the lounge, pop on Bake Off and iron whilst watching, and it makes it much less boring!”
Call a friend!
Laura from Five Little Doves says: “I always phone my best friend, and we both put our phone on speaker and do our cleaning while catching up. It’s amazing how much we get done when we’re gossiping!” What a great trick – I don’t do this enough! Also, Jaymee from The Mum Diaries says: “I call my sister and clean whilst she is on the phone.”
White space and mindfulness
This is something that hasn’t come up otherwise, but I rather enjoy it sometimes. I like to call it ‘white space’, and it’s basically my chance to do some thinking. Whilst I’m not really focusing on the boring task at hand, I allow my mind to think, plan, and go where it needs to go. I often have some great ideas when I’m doing the ironing (not because the ironing inspires me, mind you!) and need to stop whatever I’m doing to go write the idea down before I forget!
And quite the opposite of this (and of a lot that has come up in this post) is to practise some mindfulness. Just try and be present. Engage with the moment. With how are you feeling and what you’re experiencing. Without any judgement. Does it make the experience any different for you?
Get the children to help!
Probably a stressor for some (i.e. people like me with perfectionist tendencies), getting the children to help can be an enjoyable way to share the load. And it teaches them great skills for the future! Not to mention the fact that it can make it easier for you.
Natasha from Mummy and Moose makes a very good point here: “Play Cinderella with the kids. They love playing with you. They are engaging in quality family time, and you get to get them to do the housework. Everyone wins. My children help with things like sweeping up, picking up off the floor, tidying cushions on the sofa, making their beds, helping to load/unload the dishwasher etc. They start when they are about 3 years old, and they do more as they get older. As soon as they can work a games console or a phone, they are able to work a washing machine!”
Doing the work in small chunks
Setting a timer seems to be quite a popular option, and one I haven’t tried myself. Yet.
Naomi from The Organised Life Project says: “I use a timer. You can get loads done in 10 or 20-minute bursts. It also keeps me much more focused.” Kim from The Improving Mum says: “This doesn’t exactly make the chores ‘enjoyable’, but I set a timer for 10-15 mins and do as much as I can in the time. It makes the whole thing feel less daunting.”
Leyla from Motherhood Diaries says: “Tackle each room one at a time and for an hour per room.” Hayley from Land of Lawson says: “I always set a timer and set myself mini goals like ‘get the living room tidied in 10 minutes’ etc. I’m ridiculously goal-oriented, so splitting it up into little tasks really works for me.”
Jaymee from The Mum Diaries also does this: “I try and do little bits here and there, otherwise it all gets on top of me.” And doing things as you go is a great strategy, actually. One I swear by and would also recommend.
Emma from Emma Reed also suggests planning: “I tend to plan the bits I can get done in that space of time, and then plan when I will do the rest. I know I can’t get the whole house done in a day. And it’s taken me a while to adjust to having to do a bit a day. Singing always helps to pass the time though.”
Kate from Kate on thin ice says: “When I find it overwhelming, I use telly advert breaks as housework time, and then I know it is super-limited.”
Or, what about doing two chores at the same time?
Kati from How to rock at parenting says: “Multitasking helps me keep the activities short, in small bursts and therefore motivates me to get stuff done. So when I cook I hang up the washing. When I clean up the toddler I clean up the floor. It frees up so much time it’s worth it!”
Give yourself rewards
Reward yourself with rest, TV programmes, chocolates… Any takers?
Kim from The Improving Mum says: “I work in small chunks and then get an equivalent rest, where I watch up to the adverts of a TV programme and repeat.” And Christy from Welsh Mum says: “Setting myself a little reward for getting tasks done always seems to give me motivation and a happy finish.” Nadia from Scandi mummy says: “I have a reward system. 15 mins of cleaning buy me 15 mins of my favourite TV show. If it’s live I run and do the dishes in the ad break. I always watch stuff when I fold laundry.”
Nikki from Glam and Geeky Mum says: “I like to use something called ‘gamification’. This is where you use an app that can turn even the most mundane of chores into a role-playing game. As you tick off the task you’ve set off, you’ll earn coins to buy a new armour or new weapons. If you put off doing a chore your stats will take a hit! I love gaming, so it provides that little bit of extra motivation and makes chores that little bit more enjoyable to me. There are several apps on the market to choose from for this sort of thing.” I never knew any of this!
Kate from Mummy Kate Blog says: “I also reward myself with hot chocolate or wine!”
How about someone else does it?
Rose from Bell and Bear suggests: “Get a cleaner! Ok, that is only an option if you have spare money, but if not, turn the music on and get dancing, and get the kiddies to help too!”
And Kate from My Family Fever says: “Buy non-iron clothes!” Yes, everyone hates the ironing, for sure.
And if you really want to have a blast…
Follow this piece of advice from Benny of Daddy Poppins. “When changing duvet covers doing the whole turn-them-inside-out-get-inside-and-grab-the-corners technique, you can make it quicker by pretending you’re a ghost. When you do that, it makes it ‘enjoyable'”.
Genius. Pure genius.
Do you have any more tips to share with us? What works for you?