How to Start Cleaning when it Completely Overwhelms You

How to Start Cleaning when it Completely Overwhelms You

Do you feel completely overwhelmed by the mess in your house? Here are tips I use on how to start cleaning when it completely overwhelms you.

Let’s Talk about it…

How to start cleaning when you don't know where to begin

Keeping a clean house with kids is like taking your car to the carwash when you know it’s going to rain.

When I first stayed home with Libby I thought I was going to have a perfectly sparkly house. For about the first 9 months, I did. Then she became mobile. Everything changed. When she hit two, I learned that cleaning was about compromising.

A sink free from dishes means a living room scattered with toys. While I am occupied with cleaning, she’s occupied with “creative play” (a.ka. messing).

Once I added a second baby to the mix it was pretty much game over. With kids, it’s so hard to keep on top of things. It can feel like you are taking one step forward and two steps back.

After taking the last month to self-reflect and get more organized,  there are a few things that can really help when you’re busy and you feel like you just don’t know where to start.

Stage One

The first thing I did was acknowledge, it’s not the physical mess and clutter holding me back.

It’s the mental block that says I can’t have people over when my house looks like this. I’m so embarrassed my house looks like this. How come this house never seems clean?

Stage Two

Then stage two of thinking hits. When things seem so ridiculous, you know, ‘this needs to change.’ I can’t keep doing this. I am going nuts. :: Minor break down, maybe some tears. ::

And the vicious cycle goes round and round. To break the cycle and deal with an overwhelming mess, try these tips:

1. Acknowledge what is bothering you (specifically and write it down)

The first thing I did was take a pen and paper and just write all of the things that were bothering me, not just cleaning wise, but everything.

I didn’t hold back. A lot of times the mess that happens around us is because it becomes a habit.

Clutter in our mind becomes clutter in our in our home. You’re not going for a Pulitzer Prize here.

This doesn’t have to be pretty it doesn’t even have to be spelled right. You just have to get those thoughts that are in your head on the paper, so you can acknowledge them head-on.

 Try staring with what’s bothering you day in and day out.

When I made my list, I came up with things  that were constantly cluttering my mind. For instance:

Why am I always looking at my electric and gas bill? Just put that stuff on auto pay.

Every month I have to find those two bills so that I can pay them on time. I don’t have them on auto pay because I felt I needed to check them every month.

Just as easily, I can go online  and see if there is an abnormal spike in payment. If an error comes up, I can investigate then. This is an example of unnecessary mental clutter and PAPER CLUTTER. Which brings us to step 2…


2. Get that clutter out!

Dealing with overwhelming Mess. How to get started when you just don't want to start cleaning.

Do you find yourself constantly moving things around? What are these things? There’s a good chance, just like learned memory, you don’t even realize you are doing this. Find a place for these things. Come up with a system.

In my house, I created a “drop station,” I flipped my wine bar (which is a hazard with babies) around and used the top of it to set our keys, sunglasses, and wallets. Next to it, I placed a small rug to set our shoes.

Now, instead of moving my keys around the kitchen 100 times, I set them at the drop station. This is household operation management.  We slowly fix “broken systems,” that are driving us bonkers.

Rinse and repeat with all of the items on your list.  Want to go thorough a list one by one? Check out my free printable 31 Things you Should Throw Away, Donate, or Reorganize

Related Post: 31 Things you Should Throw Away, Donate, or Reorganize

>Where to start

Start with easy changes first. Things that only take a couple of  minutes an have a big impact.

Don’t let thinking about the task become more daunting than the task itself. There are two tricks to help you get started:

1. The 5 Second Rule: Count back from 5, when you get to one, blast off. Get started.

Doing this interrupts your thought pattern that is protecting you from the stress cleaning gives. Check out the video below from Mel Robbins for more details:

2. Set a Timer

One trick that helps me when I really don’t want to do something; setting a timer.

It shows me how quickly I can actually accomplish a task. Going forward I realized I shouldn’t be spending 40 minutes dreading the few minutes it takes to load or unload the dishwasher. Read more about that, 10 Genius Time saving kitchen hacks for busy moms.

3. Clean out the stuff that is weighing you down

It’s amazing how our stuff can become all-consuming.  Often we don’t realize how time-consuming it is to upkeep our stuff.

After having two kids, I have gotten to the point where I can’t take unnecessary items floating around. I think this is pretty common among families with children.

With the heavy emphasis on gifts and consumerism it’s incredibly hard not to feel weighed down by the clutter, toys, and convenience items that take up every single inch of our space. Even getting fast food is in an invitation for a toy. 

The biggest part of releasing yourself from stuff; releasing the guilt of letting it go.

It’s so easy to feel that we have to keep items to prove our appreciation. However, things are just things. Sometimes it’s nice to have a couple items that are sentimental, but not everything is worth keeping.

4. Keep Less Stuff

The problem with stuff, is that we don’t know there is a problem with stuff. The things we own slowly take over our lives.  

Not only do we have possessions, but we put these expectations on ourselves to take care of them. If you acquire more possessions than you have the energy to take care of, then these possessions are now a burden. A burden that clutters your mind and your home.  

These items become things we are constantly rearranging and moving around the home.

Cleaning out clutter, for me, is not  a quick one day process. It’s an ongoing process.  Parting with our possessions can be difficult. The hardest reason being, I feel I may one day need that item. 

If I get rid of my things,I’m going to have to spend the money acquiring them again. In all reality, they’re not something that affect my daily life. If these things “just disappeared,” I probably wouldn’t even notice them gone. (Body sprays, clothes, certain pairs of shoes). 

In my post,  living your life like a Hallmark movie, it’s for entertainment, and fun, but one thing I’ve observed, is often times we let our fantasy self, purchase items and accumulate things for hobbies that don’t truly full-fill our inner desires.

Hallmark movies so fulfilling  because of their singularity.

The characters have hobbies, just one or two, they’re not serial hobbyists. Their collections are small, they fit on a shelf. The items they collect add to the storyline, they do not overpower it.

It begs the question; how are your items and your collections adding to your story line? Are they over powering it? Is the stuff you own, owning you?

Related Post: Cleaning and Organizing the Master Closet

Time to Conquer

Okay, time to get started with your list.

Grab a pen and paper.

Countdown from 5 and just start writing.

Don’t hold back. This is your list of where to start.

Start by fixing one task at a time. Before you know it, your house will become a little cleaner, and your mind a little clearer. 🙂

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I’m Chanele. Housewife, Mama, and Chief of Household Management. I love charm, simplicity, and getting organized.

I‘m always on the hunt for inspiration
and love the creative process. All of the tips I share are for busy moms managing a household and family.

Please join me in making magic, molding memories & managing a household.



  1. July 2 / 1:51 am

    Such a helpful post and we are in the midst of making changes like these. I will definitely be creating some new systems for things that bother me like you mentioned. Great post! Pinned.

  2. July 22 / 1:25 am

    Chanele, you are not a alone. Many times I had the same thoughts about company coming over ans the house is still a mess. I love the 5 second rule! This is my first time hearing about it, but i plan on implmenting it tomorrow.

    • Chanele
      July 23 / 3:09 pm

      Thanks Toni-Ann! It’s crazy how much pressure we put on ourselves! 🙂 I hope the 5 second rule works for you! It’s really great for getting out of bed when I really don’t want to 🙂

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