Most of us do it, or at least have heard of the practice. But most of us are ashamed to admit it. We’ve all sung along to a favourite CD or tape while cleaning the house, but only when we’re alone!
But why not listen to music while you’re doing the housework? Not only does upbeat music give you something to concentrate on if you’re doing a task that is reasonably mindless (e.g. ironing) but it can also help you work faster and harder – and even makes the job enjoyable.
Listening to music and singing along with it is also a great motivator if you need a bit of help to get started with the residential cleaning in the first place – it’s a good incentive to children. More than once, I’ve followed up the age-old parental order of “clean up this room; it’s a pigsty” with “Now, what would you like to listen to while you’re doing it?” Keeping a special album for cleaning can be an incentive – you have to do the cleaning in order to listen to it – but this can backfire, as you will one day hear the song on the radio and it will instantly make you think of vacuum cleaners and dusters. Having a “stable” of CDs will avoid this problem.
So what music is best to listen to during your intensive domestic cleaning ritual? First of all, something positive and upbeat is a must. If you’re going to be scrubbing out a filthy toilet, the last thing you want to listen to is something with gloomy lyrics lamenting how awful the world is or how the singer’s heart is broken. This seems to me like a guaranteed method of feeling depressed. Conversely, something bubbly and light hearted can lift your mood so even the grottiest cleaning job (e.g. cleaning up after a pet that hasn’t learned the fine art of house training) can become a pleasure – almost! Something with a driving beat is also good, as this type of music gets the adrenaline flowing so you can work harder and faster. Hey, it works for aerobics and exercise videos!
It also helps if you choose music that you can sing along to, so pick something that suits your vocal range. However, this step is optional. Housework is often a solitary activity, so why not sing along to make the work go faster? Nobody’s going to hear you – and if they can, then press-gang them into helping with the housework. You can even use feather dusters, vacuum cleaners and brooms as fake microphones or even air guitars if you’re sure that you’re alone. After all, anything that injects a bit of fun into cleaning up helps (cue that old Mary Poppins’ song “Just a Spoonful of Sugar”).
So, to get practical, what are some good albums with music to cleaning the house to? I’ve heard many people speak highly of Abba albums as being great to sing and dance/clean to. My personal favourite albums (at least at the moment)for domestic cleaning to include: Dido’s Life for Rent, The Magic of Boney M, U2’s Best of 1979–1989 and Cliff Richards’ Private Collection (especially the track “Never Say Die” – the lyrics encourage you to keep going even when it’s tough). Albums that aren’t so hot (mostly because of pace) would be anything by Enya, slow jazz music and classical music (in my opinion – a bit of Vivaldi might get you going).
You can even provide your own music the old fashioned way by whistling or singing with no album. The shower’s not the only place you can sing safely (or you can limit your solo efforts for when you’re cleaning the bathtub). Try it if you dare!