Cerebral Homemaking Part 3: Lofty Thinking — About Vision, Philosophy, and the G Word

This is cup-of-tea length, so grab a treat and a pen and paper while you’re at it. Let’s go.
Here is the thing: before you can train your homemaking thinking in better directions so you can get better homemaking behavior, you’ve got to begin with the end in mind. I know what you’re thinking – she’s gonna say it, I know it, yep, here it comes – goals. Argh!
Are you dying inside? I know, I know – every time you set goals you do great for a few days (hours), slack off (guilt), and finally give up and go back to your old ways or worse (despair). Die not, Friend. I am going to describe three choices of vision/philosophies/goals, then I am going to tell you which one you should pick, and then in the next article I am going to tell you not to aim for any of the three. Bossy, aren’t I?
Choosing a goal involves developing a vision for what you want, and developing a vision involves knowing your own philosophy about the subject. Women’s clothing is an easy example. The vision and goal of a woman whose philosophy about clothing is simply that it is necessary to clothe the body will be radically different than the woman who believes clothing can be used to make a statement about her values and they also will be radically different than a someone who believes clothing is the way to show off her assets. The first will see herself wearing whatever comes to hand and her goal will be to replace clothing only when it wears out. The second will have a certain style in mind that reflects her values and will seek clothing that fits her criteria. The third will see herself in clothing that shows off her body and will choose items that do that job. Homemaking philosophy, vision, and goals work the same way.
So, what is your homemaking philosophy? _____________________ Are you giving the screen a blank stare? That’s ok. Philosophy can be so slippery to get hold of, but if we start with identifying our vision it will probably help us both choose our goal andbe able to articulate our philosophy. So. How do you want to see your home and all it encompasses – your physical dwelling place, your family members, and the way you interact and live together in that place? Add in visitors and guests, too. What do you see in your ideal home?
Do you see an extremely clean, really sterile, series of rooms? Is everything perfect, like something from a magazine? How do the people feel in this space? Are they comfortable, or do they perch on the edges of everything, afraid to muss things up? Are they spending all their time maintaining the cleanliness of the house, or do they have time for other pursuits? Are they happy to be there? Can people relax there? Be productive there? Is there a lot of guilt, or trying to escape, or trying to force others to help?
Do you see a space where things are orderly but there is evidence that people live there? Do you see rooms where there is a homey kind of beauty, the kind where everything is not new and shiny, but there are personal touches like some flowers or a pretty fabric, or some object from nature to look at or touch? Does it smell nice? Can people find what they need to do what they are doing? Can people do what they are doing without having to clear up a lot of other stuff before they can start? Are people happy to be there? Can people relax there? Be productive there? Is there a lot of guilt, or trying to escape, or trying to force others to help?
Do you see people searching frantically for shoes and keys and papers every time they are leaving the house? Do you see no place to sit down and rest without moving stacks of stuff? Can someone put their baby on the floor or an important document on a table without fear either will be in peril? Does it smell bad? Are everyday tasks put off until they are big burdensome jobs so that it is hard to get just them done, never mind other things? Are people happy to be there? Can they relax there? Be productive there? Is there a lot of guilt, or trying to escape, or trying to force others to help?
These three visions could be titled Showplace, Living Space, and Dumping Ground. It is probably obvious that my vision (and ultimately my goal) is to have the second kind of home, a Living Space, and I think yours should be, too. My philosophy makes the choice for me, although I am only able to articulate my philosophy after I do some imagining and get a vision in place. I think homemaking means making a home that is:
— orderly enough that the productivity of the people living there is unhindered.
— clean enough (hygienic) that the people are healthy and comfortable.
— refreshing to the senses – it has touches of beauty, smells nice, sounds nice, is a place where the food tastes good, and feels nice to the people who spend time there.
In short, I think my home should be a place where people are welcomed in, able to stay, and able to go out with ease and pleasure.
Now that I have developed a vision for my home and identified the philosophy behind it, I can translate those into some general and specific goals for my work as a homemaker. We’ll talk about that in the next article, including why I think you shouldn’t aim for any of the three visions we listed today.
Putting My Thinking Into Practice:
I am giving a little assignment at the end of each of the remaining articles in this series, because just reading about changing our thinking to change our behavior won’t amount to much if we don’t do the changed thinking. For today, articulate your vision for your home and your philosophy of homemaking. Write it out in actual words. Don’t get caught up in which part is vision and which is philosophy, though – the main thing is to clarify what you want for your home and why. If it helps, complete these statements:
I want my home to be a place where:
When people are in my home, I want them to feel:
I think the purpose of our house is:
If you are willing, share your answers in the comments. I would love to know how we are alike and different, and I’m sure other readers would, too.
Want to read earlier Cerebral Homemaking articles?


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  1. Posted July 16, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Absolutely loving this series! And seriously digging the homework. I like the way you divided up three views … often the two the jump to my mind are the sterile and the messy, and those are well defined in my mind, and I know I don’t want either, but that blurry middle region, I’ve never given a lot of thought to exactly WHAT is there! So this is very helpful. Ok, here’s a question … are we supposed to answer these questions as far as what we want our house to be right now … or long term? I’m going to answer for right now, but my answers would be different after we move:

    I want my home to be a place where:
    there are minimal belongings, there is space to pack, and areas to play/relax as a family, and the regular activities of daily life (such as meal-prep, work, play, etc.) are efficient and organized, but not regimented.

    When people are in my home, I want them to feel:
    comfortable, but realizing we are moving.

    I think the purpose of our house is:
    at the moment, it’s purpose is to be conducive to family harmony and efficiency as we are getting ready to move.

    Long term, there would be a lot more answers about hospitality, comfort and having a family haven … and we are still having people in our home right now, and spending family time .. but as far as the focus, at the moment things are different as we are trying to accomplish daily life and also get ready so we can move as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

    • Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Generally, I think answers should be for one’s family as it is now, but certainly moving is a special circumstance just as remodeling would be. I like how you thought that through and realized you are in a unique situation requiring particular concessions.

  2. Posted July 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    So I definitely have the “Living Place” vision, and now I’m puzzled why it should be tossed out! Anxiously awaiting your next post. 🙂

  3. Posted July 17, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I think my house probably unfortunately alternates between living space and dumping ground, which is my ongoing batter. What I want is for it always to be in the living space section (though I guess with the next post that might not be so)

    I want my home to be a place where we want to be. A place that is warm and inviting, that is peaceful and fun for the kids. I want others to feel welcome and at home, to feel like they can come here and relax, be encouraged, uplifted, welcome to settle in. A home where they aren’t worried about their children touching anything, but one that still is cute and attractive but not intimidatingly so if that makes any sense.

    I think are purpose for our house it two-fold. One a place for our children to grow and feel nurtured, encouraged, safe, disciplined, I like how April put it by calling it a “Family Haven”. Also I want our home to be a place were others can come and feel the same, nurtured, encouraged, uplifted, safe. Which makes it sound like it’s just one thing, but I also think that it’s important to set up time and space in your lives and homes that you just focus on your family and their needs.

    Loving these post Lori!!!!! I will also say I also love being in your home, to me it’s relaxing and peaceful, full of good company, great discussions, wonderful food. It’s homey and warm and it makes me just want to grab a cup of coffee (or lemonade when it’s so hot) sit in a nice chair and stay for hours, that is one thing I never feel like I have enough time at your house 🙂

    • Posted July 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      You darling person — you just about make me cry when you describe my house that way. It feels the same to me when you are here — not enough time to just BE in the same space. We need to do better about that next visit.

      I love your description of how you want your house to be, and knowing you, I’ll bet you are at least half-way there. It’s a process, for sure, and an organic one at that as our family changes and circumstances change. But more about that later…

  • Your comment is the best part of this blog! Share what’s on your mind here.

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