How to Succeed at Homemaking Without Really Trying: Stop Looking at the Whole Picture!

Welcome to part 1 of How to Succeed at Homemaking Without Really Trying. This is written particularly for those of you who see the blogs and magazines and tv shows of fabulous people and immediately feel guilty and inadequate.

You know she's watching Living right now.

That's right.. now you can discover the fabulous secret knowledge that successful home-makers have always known! 

Are you ready? I am about to give you five shocking domestic secrets that Martha Stewart doesn't want you to find out!

Well, not quite. But I am going to give you a piece of advice that you might not have heard before: Stop holding yourself to someone else's standards, and stop looking at the whole picture. 

Wondering what I mean?

What is a Homemaker, Anyway?

I recognize that this is an antiquated and honestly pretty loaded word these days. Let's clear something up: When I say "homemaker," what I really mean is "anybody with a home of their own."

It does not matter one ounce if you are single, taken, male, or female. It doesn't matter if your home is a bedroom, dorm room, tree house, apartment, or mansion. It isn't about class, gender roles, sexuality, feminism, or anything other than making sure that you have a home that you like to live in.

With that introduction out of the way, let's get going.

Stop Holding Yourself to Someone Else's Standards

Magazines and television that talk about food, cleaning, organization, or crafts are kind of like pornography for the DIY-er's brain. They trick you into thinking that the preliminaries aren't worth watching, that everything is always clean and tidy, and that if you are doing it the right way you will always end up with something satisfying, perfectly packaged, and not embarrassing for anyone involved.

If the premise of this article intrigued you enough to click the "read more" button, you probably already know that this picture of perfection is a lie that makes you feel bad about yourself and also gives you an oddly soulless idea of what the perfect home should look like.

Anyway: get over it. If you live in your house it is going to get messy sometimes. If you try a new project, it might not come out just the way you imagined on the first attempt. And who cares? Celebrate the fact that you tried, learned, had fun, didn't have fun, and may or may not have set your stove on fire. I've tried to be Julia Child, and I've tried to be June Cleaver, and I'm just not. I'm Mrs. Scrimp and I'm never going to be anyone else.

But I did get some really great stories out of screwing up.

(Incidentally, I'm not telling you to stop reading those magazines. Are you kidding? Martha Stewart is my hero.)

(Don't judge me.)

Stop Looking at the Whole Picture

You heard me. Stop it.

Let me explain what I mean here.

If you're like me, you fall behind. Things get messy. Work gets busy. You get tired. And then, all of a sudden, you look like you're ready to audition for Hoarders and you can't remember what your closet floor looks like under all the clothes. Or maybe you've just thrown a party and everything is in total disarray thanks to a bevy of friends who visited and then didn't offer to help with the dishes.

At this point, as you stand in the middle of your house, looking around the destruction, you will be tempted to despair. It's too much. It's gone too far. The only solution is to burn your house down and move to a new town.

Well, put those matches down.

The only thing you accomplish by wringing your hands and looking at everything you have to do all at once is to overwhelm yourself completely. Pick one thing to focus on and focus on that. Digest the cooking or the dishes or the shopping or the crafts in small chunks instead of trying to do everything at once.

Take a glance at the whole picture, but don't paralyze yourself with the thought that it has to all be fixed immediately. You already know that you can't do that, so give the idea up.

By dividing your tasks up into small pieces and doing them here and there when you have time, you can remove a ton of the stress from homemaking, and you are likely to discover that you had a lot more time for this stuff than you thought you did.


I'm going to give you a couple of simple tasks to try out. Let's call it homework, because that's what it is and because it's sort of a cute play on the "home" theme. Sort of.

  • Stop holding yourself to someone else's standards for what is and is not a happy, comfortable home. Decide what is important to you, and own it. 
  • Pick one room, project, chore, or recipe, and do just that. Then give yourself a break and don't obsess about the rest. 
  • Overwhelmed by mess or clutter? Set a timer for 20 minutes and clean as fast as you can. Stop as soon as it goes off. You might surprise yourself by how much you get done. 
  • Don't have 20 minutes? Start with 5. Everyone has 5 minutes here and there. Don't have five minutes? I don't believe you. Look again. 
  • Make a list of the things that you need to do in or for your home over the next week. When you have a free half-hour, pick something off the list and do it. Repeat as time allows. 

1 comment:

  1. This was a great post! I really, really, really needed to hear someone say, "Stop holding yourself to someone else's standards." Thank you!



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