Who else feels discouraged when they see someone on TikTok talking about how they maintain their spotless, perfectly decorated home? As a self-employed single mom to a 4-year-old, my reality is farther from that than it’s ever been. My overwhelmed home reflects my overwhelmed mind, which is why I volunteered myself for this challenge: incorporating a closing shift into my daily life.
The closing shift was coined on TikTok by content creator Clara Peirce (@clararpeirce) and has since become more popular as people have posted about it. The idea is that before you go to bed, you tidy and clean your home enough to set yourself up for success the next day. The routine isn’t supposed to take a long time, but instead serves as an approachable way to maintain your home.
I first decided which rooms would get the closing shift treatment for the week, which ended up being the kitchen, living room, and playroom. Those three make up my first floor, which is where my family spends the large majority of our time. After that, I identified what the responsibilities of the closing shift would be, which I tried to keep realistic.
And then, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to start the weekend I was hosting two of my daughter’s friends. My thought process was that I needed accountability so that my house wouldn’t be overrun with messes and I wanted the end of the experiment to feel easier than the beginning.
Here’s how a week of doing a “closing shift” went.
I dreaded cleaning up the playroom the most, knowing it was just going to be destroyed the next morning. It was helpful, though, because I spotted some questionable stains I probably wouldn’t have noticed until the end of the weekend otherwise. And while I took care of the big stuff, when it came to the tiny pieces of paper, I called in equally tiny reinforcements: the kids who made the mess in the first place. The kitchen was a breeze, likely in part because I decided I wouldn’t be doing any major surface or floor cleanup. I generally do dishes whenever I want to use something that’s dirty or I’ve filled up the dishwasher, but it felt way better doing them at night knowing I’d be guaranteed to wake up with everything I need.
Waking up to a clean house motivated me to keep it cleaner throughout the day, and I didn’t even mind doing the closing shift after the kids went to bed. The kids helped with the playroom again while I tackled the kitchen and zhuzhed the living room after our movie night. It felt like I could keep this going for the long term.
Today I subconsciously adopted the “don’t put it down, put it away” mindset that made everything much easier. Outside of the kids’ messes, everything was consistently tidy and cleaned according to the boundaries I set on day one (so no major counter scrubbing or floor sweeping). I was also proud of myself because I made sure the kids cleaned up the playroom before I took them home, which meant I got to come home to a completely peaceful house — a necessity after such an overstimulating weekend.
I was feeling under the weather that day, which made me incredibly unmotivated to do any cleaning up — so I didn’t. Although I was initially disappointed in myself for not having the energy, I also noticed that the house wasn’t as messy as it usually was because of the maintenance I did on the weekend. This, at least, made me feel proud.
It’s remarkable just how much a day off messed with my motivation. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t back to 100%, but it was also my first day actually having to tidy the living room (it was off-limits for most of the weekend). There was more of a mental shift than I anticipated in going from two rooms to three. I forgot to ask my daughter for help cleaning up the playroom and her mess in the living room before putting her to bed, which takes away from my time and makes her think she’s not responsible for her things, so I need to be better about that.
I work late nights pretty often, but tonight I worked especially late. Was I glad to have a fairly clean home when I went to bed? For sure. Was I glad to be the one to clean it? No. That said, I wonder if leaving the closing shift until I’m going to bed makes sense — I might feel better if I do it after my daughter’s gone to bed before I settle back into work.
It’d been a long week, and honestly I was happy for the challenge to end — not because the closing shift was difficult, but because being required to do it every single night was weighing me down. We got groceries today but didn’t put them all away when we got home, so I had extra work to do in the kitchen. This ended up being distracting and elongating the closing shift further because I had to rework our pantry and fridge organization. I was also subconsciously putting off the stuff I didn’t want to do, like tidying the playroom (because again, I forgot to ask my daughter for help before bed).
Going into this, I knew my goal had more to do with progress than perfection — learning what I should permanently incorporate into my routine and letting go of the shoulds that make me feel guilty for not doing enough. That said, I’ll admit that the closing shift was a game-changer, and I’ve had to think critically about what it’ll take for me to keep it up regularly. First of all, I need to enlist the help of my daughter and keep her accountable for the messes she makes, while also developing systems that make sense for her age and abilities.
I also need to work on a schedule, because right now I’m working way too much, which means I’m burnt out at the end of the night and have no desire to do anything but fall into bed. At the same time, it’s hard to live life in a messy home, which is exactly what makes it easier to hide behind my laptop. The cycle has to stop — at least sometimes.