# At Home With Madame Chic # clean with me

The Homemaker's Biggest Obstacle

My Homemaker Series continues on The Daily Connoisseur. Today, I’m going to share with you the homemaker’s biggest obstacle.

In this series, I aim to explore the secret world of homemaking, its delightful aspect as well as the darker side to it. So far in the series I’ve revealed three enemies to homemaking, as well as the homemaker’s best friend.

Today we are going to reveal the homemaker’s biggest obstacle. How is an obstacle different than an enemy? Aren’t they the same things? Well, yes and no.

An obstacle is defined as a thing that blocks one's way or prevents or hinders progress.

An enemy is a thing that harms or weakens something else.

Today’s exploration is definitely an obstacle. It’s a beast that almost every homemaker deals with. Are you ready to find out what the Homemaker’s biggest obstacle is?


Yes, the homemaker’s biggest obstacle is clutter. Let’s think about that definition again. A thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress.

How many times have you wished to do something in your home, but got choked up by the clutter? Perhaps you have a hard time finding things, or you’d like to do a deep clean, or you’d like to finally get organized, but one look at all of that overwhelming clutter and you just fold. It’s too much.

CLUTTER: the biggest obstacle of homemakers.

Clearly, something needs to be done. There are many ways. There are many thought processes. There are many techniques. But ultimately, the clutter has to be dealt with. Systematically. I suggest timing yourself (Do you remember the homemaker’s best friend?) Give yourself a realistic amount of time to work with each and every day and, without fail, even if you do it at 8pm or midnight, address that clutter. Clear those hot spots and stagnant spaces.

I write about clutter in my Madame Chic books. Mainly because Madame Chic was an incredible anomaly as a homemaker. She never had clutter. I mean never. Did you fully grasp that? JAMAIS. Ha!

I lived with my French host family for 6 months and I never saw clutter. And no, Madame Chic didn’t follow KonMarie, or Sweedish Death cleaning or Flylady or any of the other trending systems (which, by the way, are all excellent systems that could greatly help you). She just did it.

Systematically go through your belongings and tidy them up. Get rid. Donate. Throw away. Don’t overly consume. Establish routines every day and make sure the whole family is involved. Clear that clutter. Because that clutter is the biggest obstacle you face as a homemaker. It’s what’s blocking you from blossoming truly.

Here’s a four-pronged approach to how Madame Chic dealt with clutter:
1. She dealt with her tasks and belongings immediately and never let anything collect where it shouldn’t be. In other words, she didn’t allow clutter to build up in the first place.

2. She did not over consume. She wasn’t constantly buying things to bring into the home. She was very selective. Those of you who follow my ten-item wardrobe will get this deeply.

3. The whole family was on board. Train your children young. Train them to pick up after themselves immediately. Never leave it. These habits are easier instilled when the child is young.

4. Take joy in the process. Don’t dread it. Be excited about what you will be able to accomplish now that this obstacle is out of your way.

Thank you for joining me for my Homemaker series. Be sure to share today's video with a friend who needs homemaking encouragement.

Featured in the video:
🌿 E-cloth multipurpose cloth (clean with just water) Use code JENN2SCHOOL for 15% off through August 30th.
🌿Cellar Door Candles reed diffuser in Breathe Easy
🌿My earrings are by Ana Luisa Jewelry Use code Jennifer10 for $10 off your order
🌿Wool Dryer Balls on Amazon
🌿Cleaning supplies from Grove Collaborative
🌿The sign hanging in my laundry room (I love this!)

This video is dedicated to Andrea Mills, who was a fellow YouTuber and a wonderful homemaker. She tragically passed away a few weeks ago and has left her large family behind. If you feel inclined to donate to Andrea's family, I have left her GoFundMe here.


📍I am a featured speaker at the Get Organized HQ Summit with I Heart Planners.

📍PRE-ORDER my new book, CONNOISSEUR KIDS, which comes out September 10th from Chronicle Books.

📍If you haven't taken my eCourses yet, now is a wonderful time to get started. Check out my affordable eCourses: The Ten-Item Wardrobe, Chic Financial Principles for Debt-Free Living, and How to be Efficient at Home.

On Instagram
I shared the cover of Connoisseur Kids on Instagram to announce the pre-order. Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered my book. I appreciate it so much!

Comment of the Week
Unknown writes, "Hi Jennifer, That was a beautiful video analysing how your spring/summer wardrobe performed for you. I live in a warm climate where winter is short but chilly. Our summers are hot and last for months. I have a capsule wardrobe too. But sometimes the discipline to plan for the forthcoming season lags due to being a busy mum! Ha! So I appreciate the encouragement to actually sit down and take stock rather than casually purchasing just whatever. So thank you! I have divided my wardrobe into 3 seasons...transitional (being spring/autumn), winter & summer. I get 2 months of autumn transitional, 3 months of winter, 1 more month of transitional, then 6 months of summer. My transitional wardrobe stays in place from autumn to spring, I just swap out a few things once winter hits. Summer means quality pieces for me, they get such a hard wear with needing to wash on the daily. Thank you for encouraging us to evaluate for ourselves what we need based on our style, climate & budget. We are more resourceful than we realise! Plus our own personal style grows and changes with us, so good to honour that. Your 10 item wardrobe really is here to serve you, enabling you to get on with what matters most!"

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I loved reading your approach to the ten-item wardrobe!

Thank you for joining me for today's video. I would love to know... do you find clutter to be an obstacle in your homemaking? Let us know and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on the blog.

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hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Oh that pesky clutter... you are so right Jennifer!
I cannot believe it but spent 4 hours on Saturday de-cluttering our downstairs storage area...
Don't know how it got so out of control, I was literally tripping on stuff.
Maybe it is because I am retired and say to myself "there is always tomorrow!"

I donated a car load of stuff, deep cleaned the space and now feel uplifted!

Thank you again for your posts...always a delight to read.

Dianna said...

You're right, it's impossible to have a clean house or a clear mind with clutter everywhere! Thank you for sharing how Madame Chic did it—it's amazing to imagine never, ever having clutter. <3

Lisa said...

Thank you so much Jennifer! Clutter has definitely been impacting my life for quite some time. Thankfully I have been able to keep it from my childrens’ areas. I was listening to this post while I was in the kitchen, cooking the same tomato sauce recipe my mother passed in to me. I couldn’t leave the stove at the end of the post, as I was now cooking something that needed to be stirred constantly. That left me unable to move along to the next thing but allowed me time to reflect. Why do I have so much clutter? I have spent too many hours searching for the “perfect” solution/system/products to help me clear the clutter. (If only I had spent that time cleaning!) I realized that aside from paper, most of my clutter consists of sentimental clutter. Wonderful things my children made, and many objects from relatives who have passed on. It made me start wondering if saving so much was an (ultimately ineffective) way of trying to hold on to them, or reflect my love for them. And is that the way to do it? You’ve given me much food for thought Jennifer, and I’m grateful! (I’d welcome any insight as well!)😉

Gigi said...

Clutter is an obstacle. My husband is the main clutter culprit (I will admit that I sometimes fail too) but I wouldn't give him up to have a clutter-free home...most days anyway! ;-)

Our main clutter issue is paper - this is something I'm looking to deal with this weekend, I hope.

Sharon said...

Thank you for another inspiring (and sympathetic) look at homemaking. I live with 2 clutter-bugs, so it gets pretty deep if I don't stay on top of it. However, my sweet husband is less of a clutter-bug now than he was 22 years ago when we first married.

Our laundry room is the worst! It has to function in a number of ways due to the size of our house. At least the door can be closed when it (his stuff) starts to bother me. To deal with MY stuff (the laundry) I've found a new weapon - humor. A greeting card (wish I were the author) that sums up everything is now hung above the washer.

And I quote: "Love includes more laundry than I expected."

Simple red text on a white background. Says it all.

Deborah said...

So many thoughts...
I've never heard of Swedish Death Cleaning before, but realize I've already been doing a bit of that, especially letters and old journals. Did FlyLady decades ago, and still think of "zones" and "15 minutes", and use my amazing feather duster with a purple feather! Also, did a major cleanout inspired by KonMari a couple years ago, but didn't actually do it her way, so it wasn't as scary (or as effectiive, but I was OK with that!) Am now being inspired by Dawn "The Minimal Mom". She keeps me realizing I can live with less, but at the same time I have no desire to go to that extreme: I really get joy from decorating my home with a few, select displays. Especially ones I change seasonally. (My vase collection is always being added to and then decluttered, and it is never small! But it brings me so much joy when I have the perfect vase for the perfect tablecloth and flowers, etc! It is a creative outlet for me.)

I actually LOVE decluttering and organizing! But I DO struggle with decluttering sentimental things. I found a few things that help...
1. Passed things on to the next generation who will appreciate it. (Especially heirlooms or my own paintings.)
2. Took photos and turned them into a Shutterfly book, (such as children's papers, special cards, etc.)
3. Gathered every single thing I've been given (from one person at a time), and then choose just my favorite items to keep. If the item is actually working well as decor or is useful, then of course I keep those. If it's sentimental ONLY, then I only keep a few and store them in a trunk. Even a number of things from my husband have been discarded, because he's given me SO many things over the years.
4. I do allow myself to use 2 trunks (1 is small), and if the sentimental items don't fit in those, then something needs to go. The trunks hold things from my childhood, wedding, gifts, travels, Grandmothers, mother, husband's grandma, his military, etc.

Every few years I go thru the trunks for fun, and through my vases, etc, to see if anything has lost its appeal, or if I am now ready to pass it on. Sometimes it's hard, like the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls made by my grandma, but I gave them to my nephew's daughter, and kept the teddy bear Grandma made. (My SIL recently got rid of her wedding dress once she knew her only daughter didn't want to use it. She had pictures, that was enough. I haven't gotten that brave yet!)

Even if it's midnight? Oh Jennifer, that's it! Just do it. Make it a commitment! I'm going to do that with my 5-minutes on the Rebounder - Gonna make it a commitment, even if it's at midnight! Ok, I'm signing off, and I promise I'm gonna Rebound right now - even though it's 10:30pm!


Mimi Gregor said...

I don't have clutter (don't hate me!), probably because I had several elderly relatives to clean up after when they died. They were all pack-rats, and it was an arduous task. One relative asked for help before her demise, but when I would ask her if she really needed that huge stash of old National Geographics in her basement, she said "it might be useful to someone someday." That was her catch phrase as an excuse to not get rid of stuff. Also, "I'm just a sentimental person." I used these relatives as an object lesson. I did not want to be like that.

Remember that you can keep the memories without keeping the mementoes. You can scan pictures of these things and put them into a file on your computer. I've always said that objects -- just like people -- like to feel useful. And if you're not using them, you should donate them so that someone else may find that object useful. I keep a box or bag in my coat closet for things that I want to donate to Goodwill. When it is full, I put it in the car and take it to Goodwill on my way to the food store. (It's right on the way, so it's easy to just drop and go.)

Having no clutter makes cleaning a snap. And I'm able to clean thoroughly because I don't have chicanes in my way. I think that even just doing a small section on a daily basis would show such an improvement that it would motivate one to continue. I use the Zone method and do a small section (and I mean small) of my home every day and thoroughly clean it and get rid of anything that hasn't been used in a long time. Even as a minimalist, I still find things that I no longer need. Maybe they fit into my life once, but they no longer do. zone cleaning obviates the need for "spring cleaning" and "fall cleaning." and is actually much easier than doing a big cleaning once or twice a year.

Fiona Chain said...

Good morning Jennifer,
Oh I just love these videos, I feel instantly calmer and encouraged to get stuck into my housework. Thank you for all your hard work it is really appreciated.

Come Home For Comfort said...

Yes! This resonates with me for sure. I didn't begin to truly love and embrace my role as a homemaker until I dealt with clutter and organized my home. I love your homemaking series so much - thank you!

Whitney @ Come Home For Comfort

DJ said...

Dear Jennifer, I needed this video today!!! I've been doing some deep cleaning on and off for the last couple of weeks. Yes, weeks - I'm cleaning my house, the attic and my husband's shop! I've found a non-profit hospice group that has a small re-sale store. I'm so thrilled to have somewhere to donate - absolutely all profits go to help people under hospice care. Last week I donated a packed SUV full of stuff!!! It felt so good. This is my second time donating to this store. I'm still not finished, my goal is to be completely clutter free and organized before it's time for fall entertaining and the holidays!! I've lived in the same house for 30 years and last year had to clean my mother's house after she passed. I will not leave clutter for my only child to deal with. I'm in my 60s and it's time to be free!! Thank you for the inspiration and your lovely videos.

Unknown said...

Is there a chance I could have the banana bread recipe from the end of your video?