6 Tips for Tackling Spring Cleaning as a Couple Without Killing Each Other
What's that you hear? Birds chirping, windows opening and, oh yes, couples bickering about doing the annual big clean. Welcome to spring, Nesties!
If you dread asking your partner for help when it comes to cleaning and organizing your home, you're not alone. A 2015 study found nearly half of American couples clash over clutter. The good news is, it doesn't have to ruin your relationship. Check out the tips below to make the process a little cleaner.
1. Decide Who Does What Together
“In order to make this whole cleaning thing bearable, you've got to make it work for both of you," says Christine Kell, declutter coach and owner of Gaining Space in Brooklyn, New York. "Sit down together and write out your own separate lists of chores." On the page, create three columns: chores you hate doing, chores you actually kind of like doing and chores you're a little "whatever, it won't kill me" about. "Fill out the first two columns individually, then discuss," Kell suggests. Your matches might work out perfectly, but if not, negotiate what goes in the third column. You might hate cleaning the tub much more than he does, while he might hate cleaning out the fridge more. Communication is key for making sure someone's not doing all the things they hate.
2. Put It on the Calendar
Agree to a time that's good for you both and stick to it. "Get serious," Kell says. "Send a calendar invite via email and invite each other to clean. Not only does this set aside the time, but it's like an agreement or contract between you both that cleaning is a priority."
3. Visualize What You Want the Outcome to Look Like
"The best motivation is a vision for what you want your home to be," Kell says. “You both have to sit down and discuss your idea of clean." This means agreeing on what projects are on the top of the list and how you'd like them to turn out. For example, "I'd love to go through and get rid of all that junk in the hall closet." This will make sure you both are on the same page and gets you working toward the same goal.
4. Make It Fun
You can either grunt and sigh as you tackle the house, or make it into a fun date. (We'd obviously choose the latter.) Pour some wine and crank up your Pandora. Music not only lightens the mood, but it also can act as a cleaning hypnosis trigger, Kell says. "Always start your cleaning sessions with the same music," she says. "What begins to happen is, that when you hear a certain song or artist, it becomes a type of trigger in your mind where you pretty much can't do anything but clean."
5. Stick Together
It's super-important to tackle cleaning at the same time as your partner, otherwise if you're cleaning and he's checking his email on the couch, you'll feel resentment, Kell says. "You have to establish a time to do it and do it together (see calendar tip above)—it gives you a sense of teamwork you don't get when you do it separately."
6. Support Your Partner When Throwing Things Out
One of the hardest parts of spring cleaning is getting rid of the items you no longer use but still hold sentimental value. That's why it's important not to judge or make fun of your spouse's stuff. "Talk to them with compassion and ask questions about the item and the memories attached to it," Kell says. "Once someone is heard, it can be easier to let go. Encourage your lady to try on that prom dress one last time, or encourage your guy to show you how cool he looked in his letterman jacket—sometimes that's all you need."