THE BLOG
11/12/2013 10:10 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Two Reality Shows That Practically Clean My House for Me

There are two shows I can turn on any time and I will start cleaning my house without even realizing I'm doing it. It may begin with wiping down a counter, but if it turns out to be a marathon, my whole kitchen will be spotless by the third episode.

Do I need this sort of motivation? Need is a strong word, so, probably not.
Do I want it? Yes, please.

I have rarely been self-motivated in the cleaning department (my best friend of the last decade would tell you this is an eye-roll worthy understatement) and I love anything that's free or a great deal. It's a dangerous combination, I'll take all the help I can get. Luckily, both of my motivators are readily available for instant viewing on Netflix, whenever I need that extra push.

Bring on the reality tv!

Hoarders: Buried Alive
This one is pretty obvious. Watching people be buried under their own things makes it easy to throw out my things. I have a tendency to collect and, as I recently mentioned, I am not a type A housekeeper. The threat of being avalanched in my own home can feel very real sometimes, even when it's just a pile of clothes I've been meaning to drop off at the local charity thrift for any number of weeks. After about three minutes of watching, those clothes are already dropped off and I have added all the jean skirts and spaghetti strap tank tops I've been harboring due to the delusion that I will somehow magically be 19 all over again some day.

There is now a family joke. Just today, my six year old son has said, "Is this all you're going to watch now? Messy rooms?' When there is clutter leering at me, yes, because I know throwing on Hoarders will get that job done, and usually many more too. That junk drawer will be a well organized, accessible, dream. Those old wine bottles I was going to turn into a chandelier three years ago, and never did, are now properly recycled, and the over flowing box of corks is gone now too. Adios, junk!

Of course, despite my familiar and jovial tone, the people featured on the show are no laughing matter, and my physical reaction to seeing their stories is a reflection of that. Most "hoarders" have distinctly tragic events in their past, often it was a sudden and unexpected loss. My heart goes out to each and every one of them, even if it seems that I make light of this serious and life threatening issue. I want them to know I feel for them and that their story is heard, I can't help but think that's why they agree to the cameras. Nearly every person featured says something to the effect of "No one should live like this." I am one less person who will.

The emotions that come from watching the show make me antsy. The scared straight tactic of seeing what could happen if I let the unproductive, and unhealthy, habits go for too long is enough to make sure all the dishes and laundry are clean, put away, and significantly thinned out. Is it enough to make sure I do it everyday or even regularly? No, unfortunately, not. They say the quickest way to end one compulsion is to gain a new one, let my sloven laziness be replaced by an enthusiastic need to clean. I'm ready. But, maybe first, I should get a sweatshirt and a cell case and a tote bag to remind me....

My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
This show is for my daily "wipe it all down, vacuum it all up" inspiration.

Does it also feature American Gypsy cousins ruthlessly brawling outside a courthouse wedding? Well, yes. But, that's not why I watch it. It's why your kids, arguably, shouldn't watch it. It isn't very often that it's varying shades of inappropriate cross the line but when they do, they don't hold back. It's a reality show in the now, well established, tradition of TLC reality shows. It can get gritty.

But, it's not the grit that makes me clean. It's the women.

Whether you personally agree, subscribe to, spent your life fighting against, or rallying for, their lifestyle, one thing is for certain, those women can clean. And, they do it all the time. They wipe down their whole house, sometimes it's a traditional camper but modern American gypsies often live in common suburban style homes, and they vacuum every room, and whether you like their style or not, they look darn good doin' it. I have yet to see American gypsy stained and torn sweatpants, and luckily, they can't see mine. They wake up and do their hair and their makeup every day. Even on weekends. And, get this, they do it all effortlessly.

Thanks to a brilliantly creative older sister, I grew up with the belief that I may have actually been adopted by my parents from a band of traveling gypsies. My fascination with them feels, well, familial. She went to great lengths to keep this going over the years and I like to think it paid off, for both of us. It definitely never completely left me. While many won't agree with me, Johnny Depp in Chocolat has assured that many of you will, I have always been in a suspended reality awe over the gypsy culture. There's a mystery and perceived danger about gypsies that sparks the imagination, especially when you're suspicious that you may be one.

During a scene where one of the women wipes down her glass coffee table something clicked for me. It was one beautiful fluid motion. She wasn't struggling, complaining or visibly begrudging the task. She was laughing with her family and friends as she made this simple productive act look like underwater ballet, and I suddenly got it.

Cleaning doesn't have to make me miserable. It can even make me happy.

Years of being "blah" and resentful when it comes to household chores, all the procrastination, feels wasteful and pointless when I watch them. In perfectly fit jeans, 4 inch heels, perfect hair, and senior prom level make-up, they seem to wear their beautiful clean house as their most prized accessory. There is something to be learned here, and I think I got it. I don't have to quit my job and buy a caravan, I don't even have to wear heels, but I do have to fix my attitude and put pride into keeping a clean and tidy home. I have to see it as a valuable use of my time and energy.

But I suppose that's the lesson in both. Now, all I have to do is stay away from Extreme Cheapskates and I should be just fine.