The Lost Art of Homemaking: Image of a crocus in foreground, a house in the background.

The Lost Art of Homemaking (A Spring-Cleaning Primer)

by Kathleen Guire

I love cleaning. I know. Not everyone does. I love order, organizing, and making things beautiful.

Homemaking is an art that many in our culture have discarded.

Perhaps we back down from beautifying our space because we don’t think it’s “beautiful enough.” The barrage of HGTV picture-perfect homes and Instagram design accounts (both of which I love) can sometimes make us feel inadequate in our own homes.

The other extreme is treating our homes as if they are completely utilitarian, instead of places of comfort and beauty.

Reframe your thinking about your home.

Spring is a wonderful time to reframe our thinking. We can open the windows, refresh our homes and our ideas about them!

Here’s one thing you can do right now, before you read the rest of this article: Stop. Look around the room and think about what YOU, not someone else, can do to make your space feel more beautiful.

Is it fresh flowers? A purple accent wall? Removing the stacks of magazines from your grandmother’s buffet?

Take a deep breath and do it. Don’t wait for someone else to say your idea is in style or all the rage. You are the boss and the employee in your home. You can decide what works and how to create the kind of comfort you want to come home to.

Spring Cleaning 101

“Spring cleaning comes from the days when homes were heated by fireplaces, and efforts were made to prevent heat from escaping. The coming of spring and warm weather was an opportunity to air the house and clean it of soot and all the grime accumulated over the winter months,” explains Yvonne Manomano, Cleaning Operations Manager at Handy, the UK’s fastest growing on-demand provider of cleaners and DIY experts.

While we may not be cleaning the soot from a coal furnace or open wood-burning fireplace, spring-cleaning is still an important part of the year—not only physically, but emotionally.

Emotionally. We’re ready to leave the short, dark days of winter behind.

Emotionally, it is important to spring clean so we start fresh! Although we don’t have coal furnaces that make soot and grime, the shorter days and gray days hide the dust. It’s a blessing in disguise for those days we cozy up to the fireplace or the Christmas tree. We don’t see all the dirt. When the sun starts shining, we see dust, grime, and fingerprints.

Spring-cleaning is not decluttering.
 Spring-cleaning is cleaning the parts of your home you don’t clean on a regular basis.

If you have a great deal of clutter, take some time to tidy that up before you clean. You can read about tidying up here. Spring-cleaning is just that: cleaning.

Here are some of the spring-cleaning tasks I tackle:

  • Clean all windows.
  • Pull out furniture and clean behind.
  • Wipe out shoe cubbies and clean boot mats.
  • Area rugs need rolled up, taken outside, hung up, and the dust beaten out (Yep, I still do that.).
  • Flip mattresses.
  • Wash curtains. I keep my curtains simple. In most of our rooms, I hang white cotton-blend window coverings from Ikea. They wash well and I can hang them when they are damp to let them finish drying.
  • Wipe kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. My cabinets are painted. By me. Every year I pull out my cabinet paint and touch them up.
  • Wipe windowsills.

Clean by task, not by room.


This is an important time-saver. Instead of cleaning the windows, corners, and baseboards in one room, pick one of those.

If you pick windows, clean all the windows in the whole house. You can stretch this task out over a week. That way the needed equipment is the same each day. This approach eliminates decision fatigue.

To stay on task, keep a to-do list and work through it.

Finish your spring-cleaning with some fresh updates.


One of the best thing about spring is nature comes back to life. The birds chirp, flowers bloom, and the air is full of fresh smells. Bring that new life inside by creating a flower arrangement, getting some succulents for indoors,  displaying some pretty spring dishes, or all of the above.

If you think of spring-cleaning as an airing out your home to move into a new season instead a chore, it’s more appealing.

As you move through your rooms, jot down projects you would like to take on.

Hubby and I do this every year. If we write our ideas down, they are more likely to happen. Don’t be tempted to do them in the middle of spring-cleaning. It will turn into more work than you bargained for and you will probably want to quit.

One last tip: get the kids involved. For years here at the Guire Shire, all seven of my kids helped with cleaning to the level of their ability. When they became teens, it made the work more fun for one or two of them to be working beside me, deep in conversation.

Also, just a warning—teens are super innovative, so if you ask one to clean the outside of a window you can’t reach, you may find him rapelling out the window anchored only to a sleigh bed. True story.

Homemaking is an art and a science.

Spring-cleaning is part of both. Open your windows to the beauty of spring and let fresh air waft through your home. Treat your home as a place of beauty and it will become beautiful to you.

To get you in the mood for spring-cleaning, check out this cute video:

 

image of Kathleen Guire

Kathleen Guire is the mother of 7 (4 through adoption) and grandmother of 9. She has authored several books, including Positive Adoption: A Memoir. Kathleen is a certified “Empowered to Connect” Parent Trainer, a program that relies heavily on the TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) model created by Dr. Karyn Purvis and her colleagues at TCU.

You can find more about Kathleen — including over five hundred articles she has written about adoption, home, house and family — at https://thewholehouse.org.

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