bad housekeeper surrounded by cleaning tools on floor

Every year I’m sure many of you resolve to be better housekeepers. 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 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.

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 now 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.

And I’m not saying just let it all go. A filthy house is much different than a house in disarray. A filthy house can make you sick. A filthy 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.

Some people with depression and ADHD have trouble maintaining a clean house (read my tips for cleaning with ADHD here). 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.

For an easy cleaning schedule, check out my Ultimate Bare Minimum Cleaning Schedule.

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If you would like to connect with other Bad Housekeepers, I have a Facebook group for you HERE.

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