How to Keep House While Drowning {A Book a Day 13}

  • Mop the floors or read a book?
  • Start the laundry or take a walk?
  • Dust the furniture or eat a cookie?

I’d rather eat the cookie.

But I also thrive in clean, uncluttered spaces, especially my home.

So how do we balance keeping a clean house while also taking care of ourselves?

Especially if we’re going through extra struggles (and aren’t there always extra struggles)?

K. C. Davis struggled with postpartum depression after she had her second child. She began posting TikTok videos of her messy house as a humorous way to cope.

Her mess hit a nerve. She began getting lots of responses from others who also were struggling, feeling guilty if their houses weren’t spic-and-span.

So K. C. Davis wrote a book. As a licensed professional therapist, she knew what she was talking about.

In her book, How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing, you’ll get to decide for yourself what is acceptable or not for your home.

How to Keep House While Drowning

It’s not about perfection. Or efficiency. Or comparison. It’s about what works for you and your family where you are right now. Davis’s philosophy is very freeing: “Anything worth doing is worth doing partially.”

Davis reminds us that, “You don’t exist to serve your space; your space exists to serve you.”

Keeping a spotless house doesn’t make you a good person. And not folding your laundry doesn’t make you a bad person. The tasks themselves are morally neutral, Davis tells us.

You know what is most important for your family. Set your own goals, do what you can, and allow yourself to be a human.

I still breathe better in an uncluttered space. But on days when I just can’t make it happen and I need rest, it need not affect my worthiness. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy.

Keeping house is a never-ending project. All our care tasks don’t have to be finished before we allow ourselves to rest.

Watch K. C. Davis’s TEDx Talk, How to Do Laundry When You’re Depressed.

Quotes from How to Keep House While Drowning

“Instead of Chores, try saying Care tasks. Chores are obligations. Care tasks are kindness to self.”

~ * ~

“The approach that you are motivated to do and enjoy doing is the most ‘efficient,’ because you are actually doing it and not avoiding it.”

~ * ~

“Five minutes was too big of a goal. I wonder if I could get on for three minutes.”

~ * ~

“You are not responsible for saving the world if you are struggling to save yourself.”

~ * ~

“The schedule isn’t for telling me what I must do or reminding me about what I haven’t done. The way it serves me each day is by taking the burden of decision-making away.”

~ * ~

“Humans are messy, fallible, imperfect creatures who cannot and will not ever get everything right all the time. And this messy, fallible imperfection never detracts from our inherent worthiness.”

How are your housekeeping standards? Do you feel guilty leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight? Share your thoughts.

You are on Day #13 of the series, A Book a Day {Nonfiction Favorites}.

Each day of February 2023 I’m recommending one book a day from favorite nonfiction books I’ve recently read.

The Table of Contents for all 28 books is here, updated daily.

A Book a Day: Nonfiction Favorites

God Can’t” {Book 12}

The Lives We Actually Have” {Book 14}

8 thoughts on “How to Keep House While Drowning {A Book a Day 13}

  1. Jodee

    My Mom was a great housekeeper and I’ve always felt guilty that my standards were not up to hers. When I met my birth mother, I discovered she was not a great housekeeper either. So I concluded it must be genetic and I missed that gene. HaHa

  2. Jerralea Winn Miller

    I love the idea of care tasks instead of chores!
    My house is always picked up and presentable; but I feel a lot of guilt over dust and jam-packed closets and drawers. I’m not a bad person! Just one who hasn’t got the victory yet. I definitely want to read this book and watch her TED talk.

  3. Anita Ojeda

    This sounds like a wonderful book! It’s so much easier to keep my spaces clean and organized now that the nest is empty ?. My hubby got me a Roomba for our anniversary and there’s something so satisfying about seeing neatly vacuumed rows in the carpet. I have the energy to dust now (I can’t do both—vacuum AND dust each week ?).

  4. David

    I will definitely start using “care tasks” instead of “chores”. Yes, there is always too much housework to do. I read somewhere that readers always have untidy houses …

  5. Lois Flowers

    Lisa, this sounds like a wonderful, freeing book. I love the mantra “Anything worth doing is worth doing partially.” I like my house to be tidy, but I’m not obsessive about everything being spotlessly clean all the time. (Some chains are meant to be broken, and this was one for me.) Hugs, friend.

  6. Liz Dexter

    This sounds very useful and freeing. I’ve been really quite unwell for a couple of weeks with a virus and I’m fretting at the floors while knowing if I vacuum and mop (and move stuff around and move the cat who lives in the bathroom) I am going to lay myself out. I’m sitting with it until I’m stronger but it’s quite hard – and I’m not a houseproud person at all!

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