Happy Friday Sweeties, what better day to introduce you to a new friend with some utterly scrumptious ideas on surviving the daily drudge! Danielle is the fourth in my line up of occasional guest writers, and though she is a busy book writing, housekeeping Mommy, she has been kind enough to take time out of her day to share her thoughts on life, love and housekeeping as she see's it, and having read her well written, likeable book she has come to be someone I really admire and feel truly inspired by...
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your site.
Hello. I'm Danielle and my blog is called Make Peace with Housework. I'm happily married and mother to two gorgeous little boys. I'm currently based at home in North Yorkshire, doing freelance graphic design and copywriting, as well as blogging and marketing my first book which I self-published earlier this year. My blog is not so much a journal of my life. It's more a collection of ideas and articles that I hope will be helpful to people who occasionally feel the strain of taking care of home and family (like me...).
How long have you been blogging?
I began blogging in March 2009. I started the blog as a kind of complementary service for my book (and also to see if anyone else felt the same as I did) but it has since taken on a life of its own. Now that my book is published, the blog is my sole outlet for any new ideas. It has become a sort of depository for stuff that I've found helpful and it's great to be able to share it with other like-minded souls.
What difference has being online made to your days?
I love the internet! I have young children, so I'm acutely aware of the potential dangers of being online, but overall I think it's fantastic. It has completely levelled the playing field in many industries. Now, if you have a website, you can set up in business and compete with the major companies - all from your kitchen table with a child hanging off each arm. So for mums at home, it can be an absolute godsend. But it's not only great for business, it can be a lifeline for social interaction, too. Since I work from home (and I'm the sole female in a house of 4 boys), being online can provide a much-welcomed link to friendly faces 'out there'. Plus, the internet makes it really easy to connect with people who share the same interests. I think that's why people can bond so well online - even though they may never actually meet.
Tell us your theory on learning to love housework...
Well, I can't say I 'love' housework - perhaps I never will - but I have learned to stop battling and resenting it quite so much. My life changed when I realised that all my negative attitudes towards home-life and housework were either unfounded, unnecessary or unhelpful. (In some cases all 3!) I started exploring healthier ways to view the situation. The results not only made for a happier home life - they also, somehow, made keeping a home feel much easier. These days, much of the work I used to get so cross about mysteriously 'gets done' - either, I do it without noticing or minding, or my family help out. Life is much calmer and friendlier around here!
Tell us about your book...
My book is the result of my journey from angry, stressed, shouty-mother, to a much better balance of family life and happy home. I was amazed at the difference a good mindset can make, not just to the actual housework, but also to relationships within the home. Our home life can have a significant ripple effect across many other aspects of our lives, (family, self-esteem, health, even finances), so it's really worth making sure it's a healthy, happy one. I also thought that I might not be the only woman who gets stressed or angry with the domestic stuff, and if my ideas helped me, perhaps they could help others. So for 18 months, I spent weekends and evenings putting my thoughts and theories together. The result is Housework Blues - A Survival Guide.
What kind of housekeeper do you consider yourself to be?
Optimistic. Sporadic. Realistic. I dream of a beautiful, orderly, comfortable home, and I make the effort to achieve it (some days more than others) but I can live with the fall-out of family life without it sending me into a frenzy. I still look for ways to be more efficient, competent and organised but I think I've found a happy medium.
Do you have a favorite housekeeping "bible"?
I have two. The first is Kim & Aggie's Cleaning Bible. It's a great reference book for most of the little problems that crop up in the home. But I also love, "Clean: The Humble Art of Zen Cleansing" by Michael DeJong. It's a cute and funny little book that shows you how to look after your home using only baking soda, borax, lemon, salt, and vinegar. I'm a big fan of eco-friendly cleaning and I love tried-and-tested tricks that have been used for generations. They're usually far cheaper than the branded cleaners, too.
Tell us about your house.
I love my home. I'm happiest when I'm at home. I think that's why I felt so unsettled when it was permanently a mess - it had stopped being the sanctuary that I needed. These days, though, it's a much more comfortable and happy place to be. It's an old house, built in 1850, so it can be quite demanding but it's worth it. It has lovely Georgian windows and our main living room is on the first floor, overlooking the village high street - great for people watching. I like space and clear surfaces (clutter makes me tense), so I try to keep the rooms quite airy and minimal. But I do like to have little things around that make me smile: photos, books, nik-naks from our travels, the children's creations. These things remind me what a home is really about - the people who live there. Of course, with so many boys on the premises, the house does take a bit of stick but I would rather have them around than have a perfect empty house, so I'm happy. (Though I do dream of A Room of One's Own, with no TV, just books, a fireplace and a big comfy chair - oh, and a lock on the door!)
Favorite puttery treat?
I am partial to a bout of decluttering. We seem to always have more stuff than room to store it, so I find it very satisfying to get rid of old junk and things we don't really want or need. Strangely, whenever I drop the bags off at the tip or the charity shop, I come home feeling lighter, less burdened. It's quite liberating. Though I do need to be careful - I once got rid of a Big Yellow Teapot, thinking my son had outgrown it. Then I found him sobbing over the loss of it, a few weeks later. So now I always double-check I've got permission, which takes longer but spares the tears!