I would like to share my personal experience as a new mom. I
did not see very small children being brought up from close quarters. So I had
a faint idea that child care might be problematic but it was much more than I
could ever imagine. My daughter had feeding problems initially. All I could do
was to see her cry with bloating. I tried everything – hot compress, herbal
remedies, allopathic medicines, but 3 months were complete hell for me and my
little princess. Sometimes, I was so depressed that we used to cry together and
there used to be no one at home. There were times, when I would keep wiping the
floor, keeping washing and drying the clothes, and keep cooking, because I
didn’t know what to cook so that my daughter would eat it willingly. My daughter
was actually underweight; however, it is a common problem with new moms that
they are always anxious about the well-being of their children. The obsession
to be a “good mom” and provide the best possible for the baby, is
quite prevalent in first-time moms. And
I can safely say that this can trigger a deep sense of failure and depression –
postpartum depression. Even while writing this, I am filled with a deep sense
of regret that my daughter suffered all that in spite of all my efforts. This
is good enough to push someone in a bout of depression. Thankfully, I have
learned to be mindful about it!
Therefore I personally believe that new moms must equip
themselves with mindfulness training with a special focus on cleaning
mindfulness because they might find themselves doing that most of the time. It
is extremely important to be mindful during the cleaning process – otherwise
many such ideas like
I am good enough for doing this only
This is all I have now in my life
I am not able to give enough time to the baby because of the
No one cares to help me etc. etc.
– might pop up in the mind and continue to grow. So it is important to be mindful of the passing moment and try not to judge the entire life on the basis of a phase of life. It takes a lot of patience to see the whole picture and most of us might lack that.
Mindful Cleaning for Children
This is the reason mindful cleaning should be taught to
children. Mindful children will not fumble for things that should be done. They
will not be confused between the right and wrong choices. They will not waste
their time on meaningless deviations and save the precious years of their
Mindful cleaning for children must start with decluttering. Every
child should be taught to decide how many toys he/she actually wants to keep.
This is common knowledge that children normally do not play with more than 10
toys at a time. You might be hoarding a lot of toys because your child might
play with it someday. But let me tell you, that day might never come. So it is
a better idea to teach your child to choose carefully what she wants to keep.
And let her donate the unwanted toys to some charitable organization. This act
of choosing will make her aware of many things. First, she will know what she
loves best, it is a rare knowledge. Most of us grow into confused adults as we
never face such choices day in and day out. Our lives become overwhelmed with
confusing options just like the heap of unwanted toys that we never decided to
do away with. Children learn that there is limited room, as there is limited
time in life. And it is important to choose the best and keep it, instead of
hoarding all unwanted stuff which will hide the things that you really love.
Once the best-loved toys are selected, it becomes easier to get children to clean as picking a few toys from the floor is not a daunting task. Besides, children can be made aware that if they do not choose to pick up a toy, it will be considered that they don’t need it and the toy will be taken away. This is another level of awareness, where after a point in time the child will lose interest in a particular toy and will not choose to spent time on managing it. This also makes the toy storage area a constantly changing and exciting place, where the child will find only his favorite toys and not a heap of junk. These children, as they grow up, will be freer, more flexible and open in their approach towards life. They will not get stuck with any specific thing, person or experience. They will not spend their life trying to hoard things or money. They will be able to mindful clean all aspects of their lives.
One of the most basic processes that we all engage in is the
cleaning process. Cleaning is not only related to home-making. Each one of us
does some or the other kind of cleaning in our daily routine unless we are
filthy rich. Even if we are not cleaning our home frequently, we might be
cleaning our study table or office cupboard or organizing our work desk. It can
be any type of cleaning.
Let me give you my background regarding cleaning. I must have
been the messiest kid and a teenager. It would take me a festival or some other
occasion to clean my clothes or my desk. My books would be scattered all over
and my study table always resembled the site of an earthquake. But I considered
it natural, in fact authentic. I used to think that only the ones who study
would keep their tables messy. After all, I had all the important work to do in
the world. And cleaning was definitely not one of the mentally exciting things
that I would like to focus on. I thought that there is nothing sensible to
focus on cleaning and it must be delegated to lesser brains. Now I can safely
say that I have improved my thinking. I love cleaning now. It is a fundamental
process to our healthy and happy survival and I really respect the process of
cleaning now. Love of cleaning led me to accept minimalism. Minimalist cleaning
hardly takes any time as there is not much to clean J . And now
what I do is mindful cleaning and really enjoy it.
Now it is my personal experience that normal cleaning
activities like dusting, mopping the floor, dishwashing, laundry etc. can be
done easily without active supervision of a conscious mind. Besides, these are
normally considered to be second-grade no-brain activities. many people tend to
procrastinate cleaning activities unless it is absolutely necessary to clean
up. Therefore, these are the activities where we can easily turn off mindful
attention to the task at hand and drift into the imaginary world of thoughts,
emotions, and imagination. The mental space that these activities provide can
easily attract a lot of negativity if we are not careful.
There is always so much funny stuff available about the
grumbling housewife or the homemakers.
Why do they grumble so much? Probably, this might be so because these
people normally have a lot of the above-described activities in their daily
lives. In fact, their whole day can be full of cleaning and decluttering if
they have small kids at home. They can spend their full day doing odd jobs that
are not mentally challenging and inspiring. Thus the mental vacuum or numbness
that builds up gives enough space for all kinds of thoughts. Unfortunately,
most of these thoughts can be negative as a homemaker does not earn money,
might not be considered important enough or sharp enough to engage in any other
intellectual pursuit. It is natural that most of the time; such life can
trigger lack of self-identity, loss of self-respect and depression. Therefore, it is especially important for
home-makers to practice cleaning mindfulness.
I have described below the way I try to maintain mindfulness
while the cleaning activities like the kitchen cleaning, washing and drying
clothes, wardrobe cleaning, floor cleaning, and other odd jobs. I am sure that
there can be better ways and I hope that we find them together.
Some tribal cultures have the practice of removing all
useless things before the new harvest season begins. They throw all such things
in a bonfire, dance around it and celebrate their harvest! These people are
mindful of what they need and what they don’t, unlike us. We are told what we
need by the advertising and marketing agencies. We have almost nil awareness of
our real needs. Therefore, mindful cleaning starts with the process of
decluttering. Physical decluttering can be used as a good example later for
The first big step towards mindful cleaning is decluttering.
If you are cleaning mindfully, you will ask yourself “why am I cleaning this
thing?”. You should look for a sensible
answer. The next mindful question that you can ask yourself is “why do I own
this thing?” or “does it brings joy to me?” or “is it really useful to me?”. I
used to have a lot of show pieces that I collected from my travels. After my
daughter was born, it became a real pain to be able to maintain all of
them. It took me 4 long years to realize
that I don’t want them. They might look nice but if they come at a cost of my
priceless time that I could have spent with my daughter instead of cleaning
them, I don’t want them at all. They offer very little value for the time spent
on cleaning them. I gave away all of them, every single one and now I never
Another big cleaning happens around the clothes. I used to
have cupboards full of clothes, just because my mom was very fond of buying
clothes. And she would keep buying my gifts. Besides, I kept storing all the
clothes so that I would wear them SOME day, which actually never came. I highly
recommend reading Marie Condo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of
Tidying”. There are youtube videos also available, that will give you a
zest of the book. I sincerely wish that I had read this book year back. I would
have so much of my time and energy on senseless work. Cleaning is not senseless;
however, there is nothing more idiotic than mindless cleaning.
I knew that we should throw away the things that are not
useful to us. But I would keep clinging to things that I would be able to use
ONE day. So my rooms were full of such things and never looked clean in spite
of all the cleaning. There was not
enough space. I failed to realize that I need to keep things that I am going to
use frequently and not all the things that are usable in some way. After a few
years of failed attempts of cleaning, I came across the documentary “The
Minimalist” and it changed my whole life. I loved the idea and made a
strategy to achieve minimalism. Actually, it was my strategy of getting rid of
excessive anger, might work for you too. I started throwing 5 things per day
that I have not used for more than a year. Over a course of 6 months, I donated
some 35-40 suitcase full of clothes and other usable things to a nearby
orphanage. I felt so relieved and free immediately. After 6 months I could see that my house
remained clean without doing any extensive cleaning. It was because there was no trash left in the
house. I was blind to the trash in my house and I was trying to manage trash
instead of cleaning it up. Mindful awareness of my real needs helped to figure
out what I really need and remove the rest. Marie Condo, the tidying expert
suggests onetime cleaning which is actually the best way. However, if you do
not have the moral strength to do that, go by “5 things out every day” method.
This process really makes you more mindful o the things that you value and
would want to keep at home.
Once the house is properly decluttered, you must be mindful
of anything that is not required in the house. Such things are believed to
block the natural flow of energy in the house.
In Indian tradition, it is believed that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth
comes to the home which is clean and pious. And interestingly, the broom is
also worshipped during the worship ritual of Lakshmi. Therefore, cleaning is
more than a mindless job.
After the mega-decluttering of the house, I believe that you
need not spend more than 30 min cleaning the entire house, that too when you
have a small messy child at home.
Initially, I would several ideas running in my mind,
especially that I am losing time in cleaning and that I should be using this
time to earn more. But I flipped that idea into another belief that as I am
dusting my things or mopping the floor, I am removing dirt from my good luck.
As I shine my house, my fortune will shine as well. With thorough faith in this
idea, I became completely aware of the way that I am cleaning. I am attentive
to the fact whether the things are getting cleaned properly or not. This
thought works for almost all of us because we all face little financial crises
here or there. When aligned with prosperity, cleaning becomes far most
important than it would appear otherwise. Since I have few prized possessions
that are useful to me after a massive decluttering, I really have time to clean
and manage them properly.
Again gratefulness helps a lot to stay in the moment. When I
am washing my daughter’s favorite plate, I feel grateful that I have a
beautiful family, an adorable child, good food and comfortable life! Positivity
connects everything in life, just as negativity does. This feeling helps me to
be more aware of the pretty plates and other utensils that I have.
When I am mopping the floor in a mindful state, I am aware of each and every inch of my house. My house looks like a living entity in its own right. I work better and faster. What’s best is that I have less work, since I know what I should do and what I don’t need to. Mindfulness might not help you to work fast. However, it sure can sweep away all useless things and work from your life and you are left with few crisp and clean things to do.