Get Real :: Housekeeping Edition


I can’t think of any other work in life that is more like Tai Chi than housekeeping. The home is a body, animated by all this energy flowing around in the form of people, movement, stuff, and the elements. There is a constant interplay between order and disorder. My job as head housekeeper of this joint is to engage with all that moving energy, and use my own life force to keep the energy of the house balanced. It is a constant ebb and flow.

Something important is happening here, and I know better than to disturb it.

I’m not a natural at this. I love caring for my home. I consider it a spiritual practice and am deeply fed by the rhythms of it. And I also get tired of it. After all, it is endless. I’m philosophical about housekeeping because I know that while my idea of bliss is two hours to clean with no one underfoot, it will look like nothing happened within minutes of my family’s return.

Our house is as much a living entity as all the people who live in it, and it’s natural flow is towards disorder. While I work daily to maintain a certain amount of order, I do not delude myself that we aren’t just one very fun afternoon away from disaster at any given moment. No matter how constantly I clean, I am trailed by two busy little children, a husband, and of course myself, and together we undo all that is done. It is the ultimate in impermanence. I am at peace with this.

As clean as it gets. No matter what I do, there’s always a mason jar on the counter with unidentifiable contents.

But enough musing! I have two time tested and much beloved secrets to keeping this ship afloat. In fact, I’ve already written about both of them, so I’ll just give the links and cross my fingers that you’ll indulge some Vintage Old Recipe. It’s good stuff!

As my friends know, I am religiously devoted to my housekeeping rhythm. I’ll update the original post only to add that last fall I got super angsty and wrote up a day by day breakdown for the month that tells me exactly when to do which job that might otherwise get forgotten in the general upkeep: mop on the second Tuesday of the month, organize the toy shelf on the fourth Wednesday, clean the fridge the first Monday, and onward ad nauseum. Those jobs sometimes happen when my calendar tells me they should, occasionally I do them early or skip them for a month. Sometimes the fridge get’s a little funky before it’s day to be cleaned comes, but for heaven’s sake, who cleans a clean fridge?

My other secret is the revolutionary Clean House 1-2-3 technique, which you can read all about here. Basically, less stuff equals less mess. Give it a go.

How nice that you can’t see the collection of dusty ephemera on top of my dresser (out of frame). Or the collection of banjo and mandolin cases behind the chair.

In parting, I just want to mention a cautionary tale told by my friend’s mother who related to me with dismay that she spent most of her life “pledging the furniture.” Is pledge some kind of polish? I think about Dee when I feel not inspired but enslaved by the constant cleaning. That’s when I stop, make a cup of tea, watch the kids play without following them around with a sigh and a broom, and do some knitting.

Where do you keep stray balls of handspun and seeds and, um, what is all that stuff?

The truth is, while we need our homes to be well cared for, we also need to plant the garden, make things with our hands, read stories to our children, go for walks, indulge a burst of creativity, visit a friend. The house will wait, life will not. I try to remember to live it. My home is most beautiful to me when it is filled with the good things we do in it. We live here, I remind myself. This glorious mess is a sign of all that our love is capable of.

If mama wants to sew and the kids want to play, why on earth would I stop them? 

Get Real is a series of posts by a group of amazing women on a variety of topics related to homemaking. Please do visit the other blogs in the series!

10 Replies to “Get Real :: Housekeeping Edition”

  1. Thank you so much for your soothing post. It makes my day. I´ve been struggling with our household for a long time and finally getting it, it has even peace in it. That´s what your pictures show.
    Thank you

  2. Kyce, I love the way you describe the home as a living entity, with energy flowing through it. So true! And I also spoke of having less = tidier home- yes, yes.

  3. I also find this soothing and inspiring. But I don’t know whether I’m inspired to go organize the shoe rack and sweep the porch or inspired to leave it all and just sit and knit. Both. Mostly just love the feeling of being at peace with the way the housework never ends. Thank goodness it never ends! It’s beautiful, messy life at work.

  4. Yes yes, I love that this week we are talking about cleaning, which for some reason threads a bit more of the continuity of life for us, as I see traveling through everyone’s posts, but the cleaning will never end. It just keeps going, just like life, around and around. It is a beautiful way and perspective isn’t it?! And in something so mundane such as housework! And less is always better in my opinion. Makes everything easier!


    1. It’s funny how so all of our posts on this subject are so resonant with each other. I guess there’s only so many ways to skin a cat, but also there is a commonality in our approach to finding the balance between home and family and life itself…

  5. Kyce,
    Fabulousness, thank you! So glad you talked about all the spiritual aspects, since I completely forget them in my own post, lol. And I must say, every time I see a photo of your living room, I want to walk in and curl up by that beautiful fireplace.

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