Functional Housecleaning, Not Sensational Housecleaning

She stood in the kitchen. Dinner was over, and the evidence of this fact was everywhere she turned.

  • Dishes
  • Messy counters
  • Dirty table
  • Sticky floor
  • Food to put away still out

Where to even begin? It felt overwhelming. Could it wait until tomorrow? When could she say she was done? How soon could she put her feet up at the end of the day? Did the kitchen have to be sparkling clean before bedtime or could she walk away when the food was in the fridge and the dishes were “soaking”?

And by “she” I mean “I.”

Household messes can get out of hand quickly, and are often overwhelming to look at.

Part of the reason overwhelm hits us as we look around and survey the damage is that the point at which we can hit the “done” button is vague and undefined.

We know we need to “clean up after dinner,” but there’s a wide spectrum of possibilities in that statement – just look at any 12-year-old’s definition of “cleaned up.”

We have our own inner 12-year-old lawyer, wanting to know how little has to be done. We also have our own inner idealist, whose greatest joy and desire is a sparkling clean kitchen fit for photo shoots complete with flowers in the window sill.

So, between these two warring instincts, we end up being the toddler tantruming between them, unable to get into gear and at least start.

Sometimes, we just need the parent who will step in and issue orders we’re compelled to obey.

You guessed it: Not only are we the twelve-year-old and the idealist and the toddler, we’re also the parent.

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You hit the nail on the head: my struggle is half inner-two-year-old, half accepting the reality of my current circumstances. – a Sweep & Smile participant


But here’s the good news: parents have perspective that teens and toddlers and trendsetters don’t.

We need that perspective. We don’t need to choose between undone and perfect. We need to find the middle ground between slovenly chaos and stressed out sterility.

Function over sensation.

Good over perfect.

Service over selfishness.

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I have a new mantra for cleaning, thanks to you: we’re going for functional, not sensational (i.e. Pinterest-worthy). :-) – a mom, after completing Sweep & Smile


Don’t look at the “end product” of cleaning the kitchen or scrubbing the toilet or folding the laundry – therein lies discouragement and frustration. Instead, look at the reason: we do it to serve and to keep our homes humming – not to keep them Pinterest-worthy.

If you’ve ever felt like your efforts were not good enough, chances are your standards are out of sync with reality.

Don’t get your reality checks from Real Simple, get them from real life.

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Thanks for the encouragement to keep going next week! – comment in a Sweep & Smile support chat


We clean the house to keep it functional, to keep it functioning.

Our house is not a show piece that matters simply because it exists. It is our husband, our children, and ourselves that matter because we exist, because we are made in God’s image.

The house only matters because it is the stage that the drama of our lives is played upon. If the stage is impeding the action – either by being too messy or too tidy – it’s a problem.

Our job is to tend, not to perfect. Our job is to move forward, not keep things in a static state of clean.

Need some help in that job? 

Please join us for another round of Sweep & Smile, starting November 3rd.

Here’s what one participant had to say about Sweep & Smile:

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It’s not just practical how-to, it’s invaluable know-how that reaches the innermost spiritual obstacles and attitudes, so that we may not only complete our work, but do it joyfully as unto the LORD. My reward is hard to sum up, as it has blessed my family, our guests, my relationships and my demeanor. I have a new perspective and I’m truly grateful!


Turns out, housework is not about the house, it’s about us and our attitude, our willingness to work and serve without demanding recognition.

So, we don’t just need to sweep. We need also to smile.

My attitude about housework has significantly improved — that positivity has since rolled into other areas. An unexpected bonus: I felt such momentum with these routines that it spilled over into other areas of my life and has helped me get unstuck and start moving forward in those areas too! It’s been a terrific experience – absolutely no regrets!

Gain momentum and end the year strong. Join us for Sweep and Smile – registration is now open.



It’s about working to serve others and glorify God – not ourselves.

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