Although my gun-ho house improvement days were replaced by kid raising days, my housekeeping efforts are a source of self-esteem for me. I am definitely House Proud. The term ‘House Proud’ was first used in 1849. Definitions include, “proud of your house because you spend time and effort cleaning or improving it”and “always keeping your house clean and tidy” or “Proud of one’s house, it’s furnishings, or its upkeep”.

Yet despite its necessity, and unless it’s undertaken by Martha Stewart and/or makes you money, the tradition of keeping a house has often been disrespected as something unworthy. And those carrying out the task, aka homemakers like me, have been dishonored and devalued in their efforts. Maybe not to our faces but it’s one of those undercurrent kinda things.

craft room and goals board on

Back in November, I read a brilliantly funny article by Renegade Mothering dot com’s Janelle Hanchett entitled Twelve Easy Steps to Doing Creative Work While Parenting about how to actually get writing done while you have kids. She said you need to just write. Damn the laundry, damn the dishes, and damn the healthy dinners that smack of the effort of being made from scratch. Prioritize your writing, or whatever creative endeavor you practice, and you’ll pull ahead. You’ll be successful at that task which prioritizing the housework displaces.

Let me mention, she teaches an online writing workshop called Write Anyway and charges $300 a head while I do not. It all makes complete sense. We only have so much time in the day. Maybe we need permission to be rebels. But as much as I’d love to say screw the housekeeping, my house-pride will not let me leave stuff on stairs or dishes in the sink for long. That makes me feel chaotic and I can’t concentrate on writing anyway in those circumstances.

Styled tea tray on

As both a semi clean-freak and a creative, I know the importance of a devotion to both. Sometimes I feel the need for clean and sometimes for art. I used to believe I couldn’t have both. I was really just scared of beginning and thought at least housework could be accomplished.  But no daily creativity meant all practical mule work all the time.

Now I live in the middle. I need both realms working in tangent to make my life happier. I honor my roll to keep my house and contain the chaos of my family’s world by putting food in their bellies and clean clothes on their backs and to pretend my floors are mostly clean. Because in that clarity, I believe my greater creativity and brilliance can happen.

My fellow blogger and friend Jane who pens That Curious Love of Green, talks about doing what you both need and love to do in her piece 6 Things That Will Stop You Living The Life You Want and What To Do About It . Austin Kleon talks about getting up early to create in Something Small Every Day. In both of these pieces, I feel the permissive soul of the human spirit saying fit it all together and make it work. Work around yourself, prioritize, schedule, and if you get to do it then, Great. If not, reschedule and try again.

 Restyled the Mantle on

I feel it may come down to the idea of permission. I used to use cleaning as a way to distract myself from my creative work because I didn’t really have permission to be creative anyway. Creativity was impractical. But now I know that however impractical creativity is, it is still necessary to the survival of spirit. And so prioritize and permit it I must.

So my trick to getting it all done? I keep writing out my goals. With even an idea for dinner, I’ve almost got a meal planned. And that brain time saved can now be used for something else. Laundry can happen every day unless it can’t. I mix my colors, yes I do. Do each thing when you think of it if possible. I’m getting that greasy shelf wiped off before I write it down thus leaving my list more open. Finally, Jane suggests doing something in the earlier part of the day that’s just for you because those chores can and will always be fit in somehow but your creative endeavors may not. Faith in your delegating abilities and devotion to your passions will balance you.

Styled with my bride doll on

How do you balance practical and creative work? They are not mutually exclusive. For me, they coexist for a reason.


  1. I also used to think housework was an excuse for not doing art work. And why couldn’t I just concentrate on art work? Because I like both things, really, and need the cleanliness for clear thinking. A great piece, Shalagh – I love the photo of your writing journal, tea and fireplace. Gorgeous!

    • Thank you Dawn. This is really a place I live so what the heck, might as well dish it up. I am not surprised you feel the same by the way. Your art is way too meticulous.

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