Growing up, there were 7 children in my family and we all had chores (back in "the day" when parents actually gave kids chores). When my mother would say, "Everyone needs to get their chores done today", one of us would ask, "who's coming over?" or another might inquire, "'Regular Clean' or 'Company Clean'?" We knew that if company was coming it needed to be spotless, but that wasn't the only difference.
'Regular Clean' meant Mom would pull out her vinyl collection of 45s and we'd move & groove as we cleaned the house. If one wanted to take time sorting everything out of desk drawers or the toy box, per se, one would be allowed; it seemed as long as it was done at the end of the day, all was well. I don't think any of us kids ever looked forward to cleaning, but I do remember the feeling of accomplishment once all was said and done. Dare I suggest it was even somewhat "therapeutic"?
'Company Clean', on the other hand, meant no messing around. You do your job and do it now, and time is of the essence. This mode of cleaning did not allow for ample sorting time. Don't get me wrong; it wasn't a time for sweeping everything under the rug either. Everything was to be in its place, polished & shined and ready for "show" (albeit we never lived in a house "fancy" enough to show). Although this mode of cleaning was much more demanding, the reward of having company over was well worth it. (You'd think we'd never been exposed to other humans by how excitable we became when company arrived.)
In my early adult years, we lived in small apartments or homes and I never felt like I had the proper space to entertain. Up until that point, my motivation for cleaning had always been a) to avoid punishment from Mom or b) the imminent arrival of company. Needless to say, I didn't feel motivated to clean anymore.
As a 20 year-old new wife and mom, I learned little "tricks" to play on myself in order to get motivated. "No crafting until I finish cleaning", or "no Oprah until all of the dishes are done". (Oprah got me through my afternoon infant feedings back then). Sometimes, if I wanted to "play" first, I'd set a timer and begin cleaning as soon as the timer went off. Two things I learned about myself and my cleaning persona as an adult?
- I still prefer cleaning with the music on - and -
- Once I start to clean, I become a whirlwind; it's amazing how fast I clean once I get in The Zone.
That's what I call it now - The Zone. Once in a while I might take a day to leisurely clean out a closet, or organize drawers, but most often, when it's time to clean, I'm in The Zone.
Symptoms of The Zone
- You have a one-track mind: Must Clean. (And everything or everyone that is not contributing to this is against you, obviously.)
- All "nice-ities" go out the window. There is no, "Honey, will you please _________?" It's more like, "You-- pick up this, grab that, go put this away, run that upstairs, ......... hurry. Hurry. HURRY!"
- A brisk walk. This is a key indication that you are probably in The Zone. You basically turn into this vortex, grabbing things along the way as you pass from one room to the next while cleaning. Note: You may also find yourself becoming extremely irritated at others (kids) who have not adopted this aspect of speed-walking for themselves; even more so, if they appear to be merely strolling about.
- You do not stop to answer texts, emails, or check FaceBook notifications. You may even send your mother's call straight to voice-mail. (Just saying.)
- It's quite possible that, while you're in The Zone, your children or spouse may accuse you of "yelling", when in fact, you feel you are just speaking in a firm tone, in an attempt to emphasize the seriousness in which they are to accept your
- Interruptions, of any kind, feel like huge inconveniences.
Today, while I was at the gas station, the clerk had to ask me to repeat myself a few times. He followed up with, "I'm sorry. I just returned from some time off, and I'm not yet back in The Zone."
I laughed and said, "My husband doesn't like it when I get in The Zone."
He chuckled and then said, as he was handing me my change, "Well, just remind your husband that when you are in The Zone, you are invincible." He's right, I do feel invincible in The Zone. It must have something to do with Newton's law of an object in motion.
It is also true that my new husband doesn't like The Zone. I admit, this came up shortly after we were married a few months ago. Everyone was working together to clean the house, and apparently, he wanted to take a brief moment to kiss his new bride (so sweet). However, when he stepped into my path in an attempt to embrace me, it completely threw me off, resulting in a look of surprise on my part. (I think he referred to it as a look of disgust or annoyance.) Luckily, for us, we communicate with each other rather well and were able to use it as a "learning" moment in our relationship.
Now, I give fair warning to any living being in the house when I am preparing to enter The Zone. Also, if the Hubs wants a brief intermission, he now prefaces with, "Can you step out of The Zone for a minute?"
This of course usually gets me to smile and the transition is made easier.
Even though I've made a few modifications to The Zone, I'm still a vortex-- speed-walking from room-to-room, picking things up along the way, and I still send Mom to voice mail if she calls. The Zone does make me feel somewhat invincible, and the quicker I delve right in, the more energy I seem to have, and I'm able to accomplish a lot more in less time. To this extent, it works.
I just hope for your sake, you don't ever stop by while I'm in The Zone.