I’m not really OCD. I don’t think I am, well, not since I was a teenager and had to position things in my room a particular way before I could sleep, or had to tap the door 6 times otherwise something bad would happen to me.
From a cleaning point of view, as a teenager, I was responsible for cleaning the bathroom I shared with my sister. Rather than “actually” clean it, which would have taken less time, I chose to sit on the floor of the bathroom with the door shut for 20 minutes and do absolutely nothing then 5 minutes before leaving, spray the entire bathroom with a fine water mist. What the….?
Since then I’ve maintained that level of slack. In my 20’s one might say A LOT of slack. I certainly didn’t need order in my life, or a bacteria free room. I could have quite happily had a colony of super strain viruses multiplying under several layers of clothes and magazines in the middle of my bedroom floor and not care enough to tidy and clean it up.
In my 30’s I got my first home and I was inviting people around to it. So I did care. A bit more. I got a new bathroom so the incentive to keep it clean was there, I needed to maintain its whiteness and I did. I did what I could in that little 2 bed terrace and it was the tidiest and cleanest I’d EVER been. At one stage after my knees flared up with my condition (AS) I hired a cleaner to come once a week. It was bliss. I was really starting to see how nice it was to have a clean, tidy house. My anxiety levels dropped significantly when I could find everything and could come home from work and not need to do any tidying.
So, here I am in my 40’s and cleaning and tidying have become a bit of an obsession. I’m not sure exactly where it’s come from. I think, maybe, from having so much stuff with the kids or maybe my anxiety levels have gone up with the juggling act of children, work and theirs and ours social life. At any rate I am guaranteed to be in a bad mood if the kitchen island unit has clutter on it, if the lounge has a few toys scattered over it (and aren’t being played with) or if there is more stuff ON the hallway cabinet than IN it. Hubby only has to open his mouth and I begin a tirade of abuse, not necessarily about the mess, but about something unrelated, but no doubt triggered by it.
As soon as I spend 40 minutes collecting everything up, popping them back where they belong, running the carpet sweeper over the rug, sweeping up the dirt, food and rubbish on our floor and then disinfecting the island unit, I’m suddenly overwhelmed with joy. I’m relaxed. I’m happy. Life is good again.
Where the hell has that come from? What has triggered this degree of inner happiness over a few clean surfaces? Whatever it is it is both a curse and a joy. Never have I had such an incentive to get things clean and tidy before and never have I realised how much the saying “A tidy house, a tidy mind” was true. It has become such an incentive for me to be happy that I would kill myself to try to get as many jobs done on a Thursday evening before the kids bed, so I had less to do on the Friday and could just get up and smile at the kitchen and floor. Yes…. I smile at it!!
Next step is to hire a cleaner. I’m hoping for a mini pay rise at the end of June and this will be by cue to finally get one for this rather large house. It will help me to keep on top of tidying (specifically upstairs, where my OCD doesn’t affect me as much because I don’t spend as much time up there) and once a fortnight I can experience that wonderful “sigh” as I walk into a house that has been cleaned to within an inch of its life.
Have you changed since your 20’s? Always been a cleaning freak? Obsessed with storage? Would love to know how it affects you.