bad homemaker surrounded by cleaning tools on floor

By The Cleaning Lady


Every year I’m sure many of you resolve to be better homemakers. I’m here to tell you it’s OK to not be. Now as The Cleaning Lady, I have to be great at cleaning houses or else I might be out of a job. But for my own house, I would consider myself a bad housekeeper. I let stuff go in my house that I would never at a client’s house. I’m OK with that and you should be too. I’ll tell you why.

But first, I know what you’re thinking. But you have a website dedicated to tips on cleaning houses. And now you’re telling us it’s OK to not clean the house? No, I’m saying there is a level of clean I’m willing to live with so I can work full time and manage this blog. And every cleaning person will tell you the same thing. This website is about helping people be better homemakers and housekeepers, but you certainly don’t have to kill yourself doing it. That’s why I try to make my tips easy and realistic for people with busy lives.

What causes someone to not clean their house

There are many reason why some people lack the ability or will to keep up with their housework.

Low self esteem and housework

There’s an old saying, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Besides our parents, many of our ideas of a perfectly kept house come from people like Martha Stewart or Good Housekeeping Magazine with pictures of that perfect kitchen which always had some magnificent array of freshly baked treats on the counter. Or the bright and cheery living room with fresh cut flowers everywhere. They make millions showing you what your house is supposed to look like.

martha stewart 80s magazine cover she is posing in front of horderves on table
Totally realistic

I believe things like this have ruined the self-esteem of a whole generation of woman who can’t figure out how to arrange the flowers properly while not burning the cupcakes.

Martha has a whole army of employees to help her do these things and another army to clean her house for her. So it’s a little unrealistic to wonder why your house doesn’t look like the one in the picture if you work and have kids and a husband and have to clean the whole house by yourself. Perfect will make you crazy and you will overlook the good that you got the kids fed on time and all the dishes are in the sink instead of on the floor.

And there is a growing feeling of inadequacy with the pandemic and lock downs. I get asked all the time, “Why can’t I keep my house clean now that I’m there all the time?” Well, maybe because everybody else is there all the time too messing it up. I mean, back in the olden days, everyone had an hour in the morning and maybe four or five hours in the evening to mess up the house. Now they have a full 24.

Depression, ADHD and housework

Some people with depression and ADHD have trouble maintaining a clean house This is a clinical matter and may need the involvement of a doctor. There are tips that can help though. Read my tips for cleaning with ADHD here).

Difference between a dirty house and a messy house

I’m not saying just let your house go. A dirty house is much different than a messy house.

What is a dirty house

A dirty house can make you sick. A dirty house would be moldy dishes in the sink and a layer of dust on everything an inch thick. Most of my cleaning tips are ways to make whatever your (safe) level of clean is faster and easier for you to maintain.

If you live alone your level of clean won’t be an issue, but if you live with other people, they might have a different idea of their level of clean. That’s why it’s important to communicate with spouses, roommates and even children of their expectations. A house cleaning contract might help. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if their expectations don’t equate with your reality of what you can do.

And some people were never even taught how to clean. Don’t be embarrassed. You’re feeling of inadequacy is from a magazine. And the idea that you are required to do all the cleaning on your own is from an era where one income was enough to let someone stay home and clean the house all day.

How to keep on top of housework

There are many tips on how to keep up with your housework. My website is filled with them and made it a safe place for people who hate to clean. Apartment Therapy has some great ways to create an easy cleaning schedule you will actually stick too here. If you want a ready-made, easy cleaning schedule, check out my Ultimate Bare Minimum Cleaning Schedule.

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