Cleaning Strategy: Creating an Area of Refuge

Cleaning Strategy: Creating an Area of Refuge

Laure Joliet
May 24, 2010

Since moving in with kids about a year ago, my sense of how long a room should stay tidy once it's been cleaned has gone out the window. There's just always something, some mess happening and I'm learning to go with the flow. And one trick that really helps me stay sane is creating an area of refuge.

I'm a big fan of the Happiness Project where Gretchen talks about really practical ways to experience more happiness day to day. One of them is finding an area of refuge. Basically when you feel yourself spiraling down into bad feelings, you choose to think about a few "phrases or memories or scenes that fill you with peace or good humor and they act as your area of refuge."

I like to apply this idea to the things I can see. So in our house, there may be dishes all over the counter, laundry to fold, toys around every corner, mail and catalogs scattered and piled and no food in the house to eat, but I choose one area of refuge and I spend 15 minutes on it. Normally it's the dining room. If I can get all the chairs pushed in, the table cleared and wiped off and all the things that don't belong in there put away then I can let go of the rest of the house for the day. It gives me a place to rest, an area of refuge from the visual chaos happening all around.

I find it particularly helpful to focus on one area because 15 minutes will go a lot further than if I divided it up around the house. Having one room clean (sometimes I'm tired/don't have time so the one room is the bathroom, or the landing strip by the door, the top of my desk or just the tops of the washer and dryer) instantly calms me since outward order seems to contribute to inner calm.

What's your area of refuge? Do you have one?

(Image: Laure Joliet)

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