Skip to Content

Know why I clean up my house? Because *I* want to.

Recently, Marie Kondo wrote a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

the life changing magic of tidying up

I haven’t read the book yet, as it’s on my hold list at the library.

(I am legitimately excited about this because I read books about cleaning/organizing for fun.)

Despite not having read the actual book, I’ve read a number of posts about it (Modern Mrs. Darcy for one, and Laura Vanderkam for another, though there are countless more).

Anyway, in the (um, spirited) discussions on these posts, cleaning and decluttering are sometimes framed as an oppressive something or other that’s been foisted upon women in particular.

The idea is basically that women are desperately trying to live up to society’s cleanliness/organizational standards, and that they feel worthless if they’re not successful.


I’ve been pondering this since reading the posts a few weeks ago, and as I was working through the post-holiday, post-sickness mess at my house, I’ve come to feel more and more certain that I think this is ridiculous.

At least for me.

I can’t speak for every woman, but I personally do not clean and organize and declutter in order to conform to an arbitrary standard that’s been held up for me.


I clean and declutter because *I* want to.

It’s not that I’m trying to make my house look like a magazine, or that I’m trying to find my worth in the state of my house.

I’m also not trying to live up to a standard set by my husband.

(Like me, he’d love for things to be cleaner/neater than they are, but he recognizes that we live in a house with kids and that there are only so many hours in the day for either of us to work on the house.)

And when my house gets messy, I don’t feel worthless and I’m not even embarrassed.

In fact, it seriously does not bother me in the slightest to post pictures of clutter on my blog.


(gratuitous clutter)

But the thing is, my life just does not work well when things are messy because….

I function better in spaces that aren’t messy.

When my not-so-spacious kitchen counters are cluttered, it is very, very hard to cook dinner, and that makes my life frustrating.

When I can barely make my way to the washer and dryer in my laundry room, doing laundry is an enormous pain.

messy laundry room

When my shelves are cluttered with too much stuff, it’s hard to put things away neatly.   And when I don’t put things away neatly, I can’t find stuff when I want it.

When my fridge gets cluttered, I forget about food and it rots.

frugal girl fridge

When I let papers pile up, I forget about things I’m supposed to pay/respond to.

(Digital clutter has the same affect on me…when my email inbox gets out of control, I lose track of things I’m supposed to be doing and miss deadlines!)

What serves you?

I know some people function well with a much higher level of mess than I can handle and on the other hand, some people would feel like my house was WAY too messy to function in.

What’s important, though, is to figure out what works for you.   What level of neatness serves you and your household well?


If that’s being super-de-duperly clean and neat,   I don’t think those of us who are slightly messier should give the side-eye and be all, “Oh, geez.   She probably has OCD and/or is mindlessly catering to the standards handed her by the patriarchy.”

And the super-de-duperly clean and neat among us shouldn’t look down on those who function fine with a few things out of place.

For me and my household, keeping a fairly medium level of neatness and organization works well.

I try to keep my counters clear, I try to stay caught up paperwork, I don’t usually get behind on laundry, we do dishes every day, I get rid of things on a regular basis and think really hard before I bring new items into the house.


So, neatness really seems to help my household run better, but there are a lot of other nice-but-not-necessary things (mostly cleaning chores) that I let slide.

For instance, I don’t do a super consistent job of dusting things, I don’t wash my floors very often, and my shower usually grows pink stuff before I scrub it.

In an ideal world, my heart would be thrilled by taking care of all those cleaning chores promptly.   But I’m ok with letting those go.

Cluttered and unusable counters = Unpleasant Kristen.

But dusty fan blades really don’t affect me.

Bottom line:

To maintain a healthy relationship with cleaning/decluttering, don’t compare your house to a magazine or TV show or to someone else’s house.   Instead, figure out what works for your household, and what would best serve you and the rest of your housemates.

Once you’ve figured out what is necessary to make your life hum along nicely, make that your goal, and seriously, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Thursday 10th of September 2015

OK I'm 36 male and my fiance is 39 with a 6 year old daughter, and for the life of me I can't figure out why dust and clutter don't bother this women? When it comes time to clean the house I'm the only one that dusts she can let it pile up until the brown furniture is grey. Same with bathroom buildup floors sink and tub, it's like it do faze he?????? Her house never had the window cleaned until I showed up and did it..... OK am I OCD or do I just have a l women who doesn't care about what her house looks like???? My Apartment as a single male was kept cleaner then this house... Please help


Thursday 10th of September 2015

I think it's just a personality difference...people's standards for cleanliness vary, you know? I don't think it's a wrong/right thing-you guys are just different from each other.

So, you'll have to weigh how important that is to you. Are you ok with being the one with higher cleanliness standards, and being the one responsible for the cleaning? Or is that going to drive you completely crazy?

I wouldn't hold out lots of hope that dust will suddenly start to bother her, anymore than she should hold out hope that you will eventually not be able to see the dust, you know?


Wednesday 4th of February 2015

I read the book after one of my wonderful readers sent it to me. In fact I'm sending it onto another blogger and we are all going to sign it and keep passing it on. Marie would be proud (well, maybe, I don't know her personally).

It was an interesting read for me because it approached decluttering from a different angle. Like the many posts around the internet, I planned a book review then... well it's been a bit chaotic here.

Currently I cannot keep on top of the house work at all. In fact I'm becoming quite used to just closing doors on things. But although I'm not a 'neat-freak' I definitely like an uncluttered home. Clutter weighs me down physically and mentally.

Diane Hughes

Tuesday 3rd of February 2015

I love and agree with everything you said here! I can handle a little dust and dirt; I cannot tolerate clutter. Makes me feel claustrophobic. Love your blog. :-)


Tuesday 3rd of February 2015

I think it's easier to be frugal for me in a clean and de-cluttered space, and I definitely feel less stressed if the paperwork is organized. Tax time can have me in a frenzy if I'm searching for papers, and now we have healthcare enrollment stress too. I'm definitely going to try to be better organized and minimize the stress for next year.

Having all this illness too has made me organize my last will and want to leave affairs in some semblance of order for my son...I even wrote notes about it all in a book on my desk!

I love that my kitchen is clean and tidy after weeks of's a small place so clutter quickly takes over.


Tuesday 3rd of February 2015

I have been a horrible untidy person for most of my adult life. I always had to have 24 hrs notice before having anyone in my home and I always did my best housecleaning 1 hr before guests arrived. I lived under CHAOS........can't have over syndrome. I don't know......I guess I am in that season of life where my perspective has changed and I want more order. 45, single momma, soon to be empty nester. I saw how challenging it was for my dad to go into his parents house and figure out what to do with a lifetime of stuff. A few months ago, it all clicked. I got the Motivated Moms app and started working my way through the house. The vibe of my home has changed and my stress level has gone down.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.