Clean House Part IV: Many Right Ways

I received a few dozen private emails about the Living with Kids piece on Design Mom, and I thank you all for your kind words!  Please send me questions or comments any time.

One response really moved me, and I wanted to talk about it.  Since it was a private email, I’ll withhold the name.  A reader writes:

Thanks so much for the heads up on your blog. You have changed my life! Your home is beautiful and your children must really feel special there. The photos are stunning and speak volumes, but I think it was your actual words that really touched me, especially the lines, “If you want a clean house you have to clean it. A lot.” You went on to say that this is an obvious law of the universe. Well, for some reason, it hasn’t been so obvious to me. I am finally emerging from hibernation after the birth of [our daughter], and finally able to get little things done that make a difference, and you have given me a vision of what homemaking is all about, and where I can go with my own home and family.  I don’t know if I’ll ever have a blog, but maybe I’ll be proud of my home someday. I can’t wait until the day I can say, “Our house is the way I want it to be at least once a day.”

This comes from a person I have long looked up to as the kind of parent and the kind of woman I would like to be.  I have no idea what her house looks like, and I just want to stress that her style of housekeeping doesn’t even enter into the calculus of my admiration for her as a mother.

I love my home, and the cleaner it is, the more I love it.  Still, I believe that there are many right ways to keep a home, and many, many right ways to rear a family.  I also believe that there are times and seasons for different tastes and standards.  What we’re doing right now works for our family in this house, but it is not the only way, nor will it in all likelihood be my only way.

I still believe that if I want a clean house with kids, I have to clean it.  A lot.  It’s still worth it to me to pick up the house for those 4 hours of the day that are mine in the evening, and I still like to start every morning “fresh, with no mistakes in it”.  Or at least, no Lincoln Logs.  Yet.

Part of the reason I’ve been such a careful housekeeper is that we’ve always looked at this as our starter home.  I’ve felt like a steward conscientiously preserving the floors and walls to retain resale value for the next tenants.  I loathe that feeling that my estate is entailed away, and I am a transient caretaker of someone else’s house.

In the next house, I would like to feel like we’re unpacking our bags for a good, long stay.  That doesn’t happen much anymore with modern, mobile careers, but I may have to throw some caution to the wind for my family to feel the kind of freedom I think they would love.  Can I get at least one room where the kids can paint without everything being draped and cordoned off and them being smocked head to toe like haz-mat workers?  Of course I can.  That’s a choice I’ll have to make.  Wish me luck!

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