Monday, March 21, 2011

How To Hate Cleaning LESS, Part I

We don’t like to talk about it, but “Homemaking” is a CREATIVE SELF-EXPRESSION. It gets a bad wrap and generally, as a society, we value being busy, and there is a hierarchy to that busyness and taking care of one's home is at the bottom.

I find the CREATIVITY in cleaning and organizing and all those other homemakey things in the style I decorate my home, in the colors I have in my home which invite certain feelings, and I try to organize it all with my ideal aspirations in mind. There are ideals I have in my mind that my home is nowhere near (I love stark, open, modern clean lines and bold modern art), but knowing if an item (pillow, print, toothbrush, etc) is near that ideal, or like it, makes inviting things into my home or not, a simple process.


Know what you like. This ideal only has to mean something to you. Close your eyes and imagine WHAT YOU WANT your home to look like and feel like with no limit of money, time, help, etc. What does your ideal home look like?

Acknowledge why this work is worth doing to you. Do you like to have a clean house? How does it make you feel when you walk into your home and it's all organized and everything's clean and in its place? How do the other inhabitants of the home feel or react to their surroundings? How much do you value this?

To me, this first part is the most exciting to think about. Over the years I have collected pictures, fabric swatches, wrapping paper, cards, and art prints that I love that somehow speak to me. I have used these little ideas (kept online or in a single binder) to help me choose wallpaper, furniture, drawer knobs, and lamps over the years. The best compliment I can get is when someone comes into my home and says it looks like me, because then I know I'm being deliberate.

This part of the hating-cleaning-less process is also a great way to save money. I like finding a bargain as much as I like having a clean house, and I used to have a tendency to buy something because it was such a great deal. Even if I liked the item, and it was a steal, and even if it only cost 2 dollars, it's money wasted if you don't need it and it won't fit into your ideal space. It has helped me pass buy the darling item (dishes, pillows, etc) at Target to wait for the perfect item.


  1. I love this advice! Lately people have called my house "eclectic" and referred to it as having "character." I can't decide if these are meant as compliments or just euphemisms for "ugly" and "weird." Either way, it probably does look like me.

  2. Can I quote you on Sunday? I have to teach RS on "Work and Personal Responsibility" maybe you can come teach it for me? Eh? Interested? I'll bring cookies....just kidding. But seriously...I will be quoting you.
    Thanks in advance Lady.

  3. Lisa, I followed you over from Todays Mama--I think you and I are soul sisters, right down to the five kids! I have given very similar advice on my blog, and in my book. You're so right--you have to acknowledge why the work is worth doing, and FIND a way to make it enjoyable. Love it!

  4. I so agree with you. On all these points. I love homemaking. And I am trying to be better about not buying any "great deals" that I wouldn't be willing to pay full price for. No "learn to like" or "it's pretty cute" items. Its better to have nothing while you wait for the perfect something than to have something mediocre.

  5. Lis- Will you also talk about teaching this process to kids? What age should I make my kids help clean? Jonah is almost 7, but if I ask him to help me, he doesn't do a great job, so I end up having to do it again (cause that's how I am about cleaning). Making them do chores is way more difficult and time-consuming than doing myself. I'm willing to do it, if I thought it was possible for them to be doing it on their own after a couple of times. What age did your kids start?

    Tim Gunn's philosophy has changed my life. "Do you need it or love it?" Some things we need. I don't love my kitchen hand towels. But I don't have the money to pay for the cute ones I love. It's okay. I need them. But that shirt on the 75% off rack at Target? If I don't love it, I don't buy it. It doesn't matter if it cost 75 cents.

  6. I'm pretty sure you were actually with me when I had the realization that my house should be what I want and like--I'm so reclusive that no one [but you]ever sees it. What a revelation! Pictures and more posts and binder ideas and encouragement, please.

  7. Lisa, I think if you wrote a book on this subject I would line up to buy it. Hands down.
    I recently found myself in a cleaning rut after baby number 4 (age 7 months now) was born. My children are 5,4, 2 and 7mos so I just felt like I was cleaning all day long and nothing was ever staying clean. So I sort of stopped doing it well. Reading your part I,II and II here has really really helped me--so Thank you. Coincidentally, I organized my kitchen today. It will be complete tomorrow!