Manage Your House

How to Motivate for Cleaning House When You Really Don’t Want To

“With something interesting for my brain to focus on, the mindless movements of sweeping or doing dishes are almost soothing.” Infuse some fun into dreaded chore time with these creative ideas to get you in the cleaning mood.

Like most people who have ADHD, I often struggle to make myself do boring tasks. And in my mind, nothing is more boring than cleaning house. My brain craves stimulation and novelty, and the repetitive dull nature of cleaning is kryptonite to me. I may spend hours thinking, I really need to do the laundry. But no amount of necessity seems to move me in that direction.

Here are a few hacks I’ve found to trick my ADHD brain into engaging in boring tasks.

1. Hyperfocus on a Podcast

Lately, I have found that listening to a podcast does wonders for my ability to start and persevere through a cleaning task. My wireless earbuds are worth their weight in gold. With something interesting for my brain to focus on, the mindless movements of sweeping or doing dishes are almost soothing.

In fact, I was never able to get through a full podcast episode before I started listening to one while cleaning. Turns out I needed a boring task to engage in. My kids know now that when Mom is cleaning with earbuds in, she is not to be bothered. This is great because that time actually becomes a welcome haven from feeling overstimulated by little voices and hands.

[Listen: Functional Organization for Your Life Phase Right Now]

2. Enlist a Body Double

Another strategy that is particularly useful for cleaning or care tasks is body doubling—having a person there with you while you engage in and complete a task. Interestingly, the body double doesn’t even have to be helping you with the task. Just having someone to talk to, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or on video, while you clean your room or do your laundry makes it easier to do the task.

3. Wake Up the Senses

Sometimes, engaging my senses can really be helpful. I got a simmer pot for Christmas. I put a few slices of orange or lemon in the pot and it’s a delight to my senses. It makes the whole house smell good and then I’m ready to jump right in and clean.

4. Play Pretend

Another way I make tasks more stimulating is with make-believe. Okay, as adults I guess we call it cosplay. But the truth is that once I put on old-timey tavern music and don a long skirt and linen apron, I’m no longer a tired mom cleaning up Goldfish crumbs. I am a tavern girl doing chores who, unbeknownst to her, is about to be approached by a mysterious man and taken on an adventure in the lush hills of Ireland. It might seem silly but don’t knock it until you try it. Your inner child, and your offspring who now have clean clothes to wear, might thank you.

Play around with what motivates you to do your cleaning tasks. See if you can find ways to pair them with mental stimulation or physical engagement. A little shift in your approach could make a big difference.

Cleaning House with ADHD: Next Steps

KC Davis, LPC, is a licensed professional therapist and author of How to Keep House While Drowning. She is @domesticblisters on TikTok.

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