Is cleaning up an act of self care?

“THINK ABOUT THE PERSON WHO COMES AFTER YOU” was a constant refrain in my house when I was growing up. (In fact, the [self-proclaimed] “Nag Hag” would leave us notes!)

So, natch, that old chestnut can be heard coming out of my face from time to time as I try to Impart Life Lessons Upon My Kid. But I’ve added to it! * I * say “…blah blah blah the person who comes after you—BECAUSE SOMETIMES THAT PERSON IS [wait for it….] YOU, BRO. You’re cleaning up FOR YOU.”

Because YOU are more likely to want to hang out in your living room if there’s not crap all over your couch / fix a meal if there are no dirty dishes on the counters / go to sleep if there’s not laundry needing a’foldin’ all over your bed / take a nice hot bath if the tub is clean. Etc.

In short, you’re making it nice for YOUR use. (If everyone else gets to enjoy the benefits of it, bully for them, but that’s not WHY you should do it. It’s OK to be selfish here—it’s all about you! YOU deserve nice things!) Cleaning up is the thing that paves the way for the self-care to happen—because the space is prepped, it’ll be easier for you to move into chilling out or feeding yourself or going to sleep or binge watching Downton Abbey in the tub (no? just me?).

Another way to think about it is this:


This is a huge motivator for me. It’s the little things, like throwing that load of clothes in the dryer now, even though I'm annoyed that it’s on my plate / too tired to deal with it, so that my clothes don't smell like garbage because they mildewed. It's cleaning up my art studio when I'm done making shit so that when I come back to it, I don't have to expend my finite creative energy on cleaning up—I can use it to actually create.

It’s the little extra effort expended now that I reap the benefits of later. For myself. And it’s worth it because it makes my life easier AND better in the long run.