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Cleaning House

I love going to sleep on Christmas Eve with the presents wrapped and under the tree, the stockings stuffed, and the house tidy. But one inescapable fact of having more than a couple of kids is the eternal housework problem. The big family lifestyle is mostly upside, but yeah, it can get messy. Some people never dare to venture out of the pristine, dirt-free sterility of small family life. They falsely assume that a big family requires 24/7 housework.

If that’s true, someone tell my butler.

My dirty little secret is: I may be a hardcore domestic extremist, but I am not a natural housewife. I am not, how shall I put this, enthusiastic about chores. They do not spark joy! But it’s not my fault—I was raised to be a pampered suburban princess waited on by a staff of undocumented servants, not a harried Old Mother Hubbard dishing out gruel from her hovel. 

And yet, fate took a hand and led me towards a more domestic life. One that Marie Kondo, author of the suicide-inducing self help book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” would certainly not approve of.

I start to sweat a little when I see some mother’s Instagram reel in which she’s showing off her spotless pantry where grains are organized in pristine glass containers: gleaming, glittering silos of rice, oats, and organic couscous in perfect rows, her spices alphabetized, her chip bags closed with tastefully color-coordinated chip clips. 

In my pantry, open potato chip bags get stuffed back in with the opening halfheartedly squashed down into the bag, or sometimes simply put back upside down in the hopes that gravity keeps Lays from going stale. Spoiler alert: it does not.

I mean, I do love decluttering, but I prefer to do it by ruthlessly arm-sweeping a table cluttered with knick-knacks and junk mail into a black trash bag. When my kids see the black trash bags come out, they run to hide their favorite junk.


It’s a miracle I managed to write a whole entire book AND keep everyone in clean undies this past year. Since I am cursed with a front-loading HE washing machine, I have to be careful with detergent so we don’t get the Dreaded Stink. One day I will finally ascend into Laundry Valhalla and acquire an Align-endorsed Speed Queen washer, Queen of the sudsy seas, but for now, I’m stuck in front-loading hell. Which is why I have used Charlie’s Soap for years. This is an all-natural powder detergent you add directly to the drum with the clothes. Clothes get clean, and they don’t smell! 

The only downside: it doesn’t keep clothes clean, especially after they are worn to the gym by sweaty boys, but nothing’s perfect I guess.

I sometimes add a little of the cult favorite Borax Twenty Mule Team powder for some extra oomph. You can also use it to clean just about anything else. Mule Team powder is so famous it has its own Pinterest page and fan clubs where you can learn how to use it for nearly all your cleaning needs. 

I do have one laundry hack: I do not fold. Yeah, you heard me. To paraphrase Edith Piaf, Je ne fold rien! Fold clothes? All of them? LOL. LMAO. Since my white privilege does not extend to being able to employ a team of underpaid laundresses, my family must soldier on with clean, dry clothing that—inshallah—will never be marred by a fold. 

As some of you know, folding piles of children’s tiny t-shirts is a Sisyphean task, one unsuited for anyone who wishes to ever leave her house, cook a meal, type something, or feel the sun on her face. Have you ever seen a small boy dig for a t-shirt in a drawer? RIP to your nice folded stacks. 

If you do this, you need a new hobby:

When faced with hampers of laundry, I feel like the girl in one of my favorite bedtime stories, Rumpelstiltskin, who is forced to spin caverns full of wheat into gold each night. If Rumpelstiltskin himself flew through the window riding a cooking spoon and gave me the secret to getting all my dirty laundry washed, dried, sorted, folded, and put away every day, I would happily hand him my firstborn.

I realize this idea is controversial. Some folders I know are shocked by my aversion to folding. These people tend to draw deep meaning and contentment from spending six hours organizing a toddler’s sock drawer. That’s fine, I say. God bless. I can think of many worse ways to spend your time! But I have found that when you are steering a large ship through iceberg-filled waters, you should not spend too much time rearranging the socks in the drawers. (Before you burn me at the laundry stake, I did teach the kids how to fold. My littlest is an expert folder and carefully folds and puts away her uniform after school every day. No h8.)

And remember: One day it will be payback time for all the housework you had to do. 

Try it. Try the Life Changing Magic of Not Folding Kids’ Clothes! With the free time you suddenly unlock, you can graduate to the Life Changing Magic of Throwing Out All the Toys and The Life Changing Magic of Filling a Dumpster With Junk. That is my all-time favorite housewife activity. In fact, the only thing I asked Santa for this year was a two-day dumpster rental so we can finally clean out the garage. It’s the little things that spark joy!

I just hope Santa can fit this beauty on the sleigh:


For more tips and advice on becoming extremely domestic, please pre-order my new book, Domestic Extremist: A Practical Guide to Winning the Culture War (June 2023, Regnery).

Merry Christmas!

—Peachy Keenan

Author of the forthcoming book Domestic Extremist: A Practical Guide to Winning the Culture War and Contributing Editor at The American Mind

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