Saturday, November 5, 2016

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind, by Dana K. White

Note:  I'm posting this a couple of days before the release date on Tuesday, because there are a couple of little bonuses if you pre-order and I would be sad if you wanted to get them and couldn't, because I waited too long and you didn't see it in time.

Dana White runs a blog and podcast for people who struggle with housekeeping (like me!).  I've been reading A Slob Comes Clean for about a year now, and it's the chronicle of Dana's own struggles and hard-earned lessons on how to really, actually keep your house reasonably clean.  She calls it Reality-Based Cleaning. 

Now, if you are a person who doesn't have too hard a time with this stuff, this book is not for you.  It's written for those of us with Slob Vision -- the inability to really see a mess or a pile until it smacks us in the face.  It's for those of us capable of being completely surprised to find a sink overflowing with dirty dishes when we didn't do the dishes the night before.

Dana understands, and has figured out a few ways to cope, which she now shares, including:
  • the few basic habits that really will make a big difference if you make sure to do them every day
  • letting go of project-based or perfectionist thinking 
  • pre-made decisions!
  • developing days for jobs 
  • the truly revolutionary realization about containers   (this is a big one for me!)
  • the two decluttering questions, which are pretty genius honestly
I've been working on these habits myself, and I am actually seeing real improvement in my life.  So I'm here to tell you that Dana has been the most helpful to me of any cleaning/organization writer I've read--and I have read a lot of them.  I am much, much better at reading about housekeeping than I am at actually doing it; heck, I enjoy reading housekeeping books regardless of their applicability to my life!  But this has been the most applicable and encouraging book so far.

This is not to say that my life is just like hers, or that every single thing matches up.  Laundry may be the only thing that I am really pretty good at, while Dana considers it one of her biggest challenges.  But the key is to adapt and tweak things to our own lives.

Dana is also a talented writer with a great sense of fun.  The book is just a kick to read. 

 ...the five­ minute pickup is the perfect habit to turn into a family task. 
But, again, don’t judge this family habit on the first day. The first day won’t be pretty. I don’t recommend making your first day their first day. Let them see you setting the timer and working for five minutes. Be the example of how this works, the proof that we’re really only talking about five minutes and not the frantic whole­-house­-clean­-up­-before­-Grandma­-arrives that they’re used to. 
But even if they’ve seen (and actually noticed) you doing daily five­ minute pickups, that first time as a family will be rough and not the least bit fun. Your otherwise intelligent children may claim to have never known where scissors or glue or toothpaste go. They will suddenly feel exhausted and suffer headaches and leg pain, and they may stare blankly past your shoulder in confusion when you remind them where you’ve kept the laundry hamper for all the days of their lives. 
The first day will be horrible. Working together, you’ll get significantly less done than if you had done it by yourself. You’ll spend the entire time directing and reminding and threatening motivating.
This is one of my favorite passages, about how she would kill herself cleaning and organizing, only to find herself back where she started:
After all that work, all that sweat and stress and angst, I’d swear I was going to keep my home this way. This time. 
Three days later, I looked around and gasped. My home was worse than it was before I started cleaning for the party. Clutter had reappeared, dishes were piled in the sink, and the floor was scattered with dirty socks. 
All that work, and I had been betrayed. My project energy was gone, and my heart was broken once again by my cruelly messy house. With each failure, my cynicism increased. I accepted the hopelessness of my situation a little more. 
The problem? Those three days between Party Ready and Disaster Status. They were a black hole in my Slob Brain. I honestly didn’t understand what had happened during those three days.
 "My cruelly messy house" perfectly describes how I feel sometimes.

I also got a copy of a short bonus book called 14 Days to Opening Your Front Door to Guests.  This  is a single-purpose book; it's only about what to do if your house is a disaster and you're having guests over (for whatever reason, it doesn't have to be Thanksgiving).  It's also possibly the single most useful book on the subject I've ever read; it's got laser focus and pulls no punches about the goal.  If you pre-order the book, you get this little book as a bonus.

Conclusion: if you're a messy person with housekeeping problems, you need this book.  Plus it's really fun to read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Anonymous said...

Oh I could reeeeally use a book like this. I am always trying clever new plans intended to make me a better housekeeper, and they are mostly failures, I admit. Right now I'm doing a thing where I do one chore every two days plus five minutes of clean-up every day, and it works well if I stick to it, but I often let myself fall behind. Yesterday I cleaned out the fridge and vacuumed the whole upstairs (like a virtuous girl!), but today I am supposed to clean my stovetop and I just cannot make myself do it. uggggghghhhhhhhgh

DoingDewey said...

This sounds so helpful! My husband and I moved a few months ago and are really trying to streamline the chores in our lives to free up more time for fun :)