The Happy Housewife’s Guide to a Tidy Home

By Jillian Green DiGiacomo

I remember books.   Not reading them, of course, but owning them. I used to have stacks of jagged-edged first editions and dog-eared paperbacks covering my coffee table and overloading every bookshelf in the house. It was a rather impressive collection that undoubtedly made me appear to be quite the intellectual.

But that was before I changed my life by tidying up. I discovered there are only two rules to creating a tidy home:

1) If you don’t need it, throw it away.

2) If it does not bring you joy, toss it.

I loved my discombobulated library, but these two infallible rules made me realize that there was not one book, on its own merits, that brought me particular joy.  So, the books had to go. All of them. Today, a sleek e-reader is the only item that sits on the side table in my living room. There is no longer any evidence of the depth and breadth of the vast literary interests I always fancied myself having.

I used to have piles of magazines, too. These days, I allow myself only one magazine at a time. That means no subscriptions. I will only purchase a new edition after discarding the previous one.

Consequently, before I invite anyone into my home, I spend hours at the newsstand selecting the perfect periodical which I set on the coffee table next to a jasmine or mahogany-driftwood scented candle. Typically, I select the New Yorker to subtly let my visitors know that I might possibly be the type of person who attends poetry slams. Every now and then, however, I’ll choose Goop Magazine if I believe my guests would be intrigued by my budding interest in DIY medical care.

I also remember sweaters. Before I magically transformed my life by purging its excesses, my dresser was loaded with sweaters I hadn’t worn for years. That rumpled muddle of bleached-out cardigans and over-stretched pullovers once carried memories of romantic fireside snuggles and late night cram sessions in my frigid dorm room. But I have come to understand that an armoire full of ripped collars and soy sauce stained sleeves may have signified a rich past but barred me from living fully in the present or looking ahead to my future.

Now my drawers are pristine. I own only two sweaters. I wear neither. They remain neatly folded, perfectly centered, one sweater per drawer. I will never be able to replicate their flawless placement, so I leave these two garments untouched.

On one too many occasion, my husband remarked that I had taken this minimalism “thing” too far.

So I got rid of him.

I miss my husband from time to time, but overall, it is nice to have his side of the medicine cabinet empty and his hulking shoes out of the foyer.

Along with my sweaters, I chucked my goose down parka. I prefer for there to be a one inch space between each hanger in the front hall closet. That puffy coat was so bulky it spoiled the ideal hanger configuration and therefore had to be cast-off.

I used to bundle myself in that warm coat and take long meandering walks through the park. But the joy of an orderly life far outweighs the pleasure of fresh air and exercise on a crisp winter afternoon. These days, I almost never look wistfully out the window after a storm when the skies are cobalt blue nor do I long to run outside to be the first person to leave footprints in the freshly fallen snow.

One upshot of rarely leaving my home between the months of November and March is that I have plenty of time to prepare gourmet meals. I love spending time in my de-cluttered kitchen. I have never felt better than when I ridded the cabinets of every chipped dish and mismatched mug.

It was exhilarating to let go of the never used pizza stone and the over-priced blender that failed to live up to its promise of producing mouthwatering ice creams and rich velvety soups. I felt an indescribable sense of euphoria when I cleared the place of every unessential pot, pan and cooking utensil. All that remains in the kitchen is one cast iron skillet and a spatula.

And cooking has never been so easy!

Now, my diet consists exclusively of pancakes. At this point, I have gotten so skilled at flipping the pancakes by simply holding the pan and flicking my wrist that I am seriously considering ditching the spatula.

At first, my children were thrilled to eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. But soon they began to mention that they might like something else to eat.  When I finally realized that their constant grumbling about our streamlined meal plan brought me no joy whatsoever, I had no choice but to pack their belongings and send them out to the garage with their father.

My kids are great and sometimes I do miss their laughter and little butterfly kisses. But to walk past their bedrooms every day and see the beds perfectly made and every toy neatly housed in its designated toy box fills me with a sense of calm that I have never experienced before.

It is astounding to me that the humble act of getting organized has had such a dramatic impact on my life. By adhering to those two beautiful rules, I have magically transformed my home into a serene and relaxing oasis. What a relief it is to know that the rest of my days will be filled with peace, tranquility, and pancakes.



Jillian Green DiGiacomo is an American author living in America. Her award-winning novel, Codename Cupcake   lampoons motherhood, spy novels and the PTA. She has contributed articles on completely unrelated topics to Points in Case,   The Encouraging Dads Project,  and Hooray for Moms .  Jillian’s children’s book, Off the Wall, was published by Story People Press in 2011. She’d love for you to check out her blog.

Find Jillian on Twitter

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Read more of Jillian here at OTV:  I Feel Bad for the Bull, No Complaints, Of Pot Roast and Politics


15 thoughts on “The Happy Housewife’s Guide to a Tidy Home

  1. “On one too many occasion, my husband remarked that I had taken this minimalism “thing” too far.
    So I got rid of him.”

    OMG still laughing. I’m doing the minimalist thing, too, but this. This is sheer brilliance!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a hoot. Riding the psychological arc was sooo much fun I’ll buy another ticket. But don’t you find the house itself weighing down on you? Wouldn’t living in an Airstream in a trailer camp be nice?


  3. A spouse who cooks is certainly a thing of joy! Does your husband know how lucky he is that his culinary skills have solidified his spot in the “brings joy” column?


  4. Wow, this is great! I retired 19 days ago and have made the same promise – it all must go….it is so hard but little by little I am secretly getting rid of things i dont need or dont remember buying…..I too own a Kindle so the books are not a problem, maybe the children books for the grandkids should go – they are all caught up in their electronics anyway. I have discarded all those covers to which I have no idea what they belong to. You have inspired me to dig in each day and throw away what clutters my surroundings……now I just have to stop buying more stuff!


  5. I loved the article, it was very apropos for today’s highly materialistic world and right on target. I love the ‘two rules’ and follow my own rule of ‘Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication”. This article is not just for housewives, it is also for guys too. We are natural hoarders. I have a garage for a tools with no idea how to use most of them. They will all go. Gotta sell my big house and get a small condo by the beach. If that doesn’t work, I will buy a Tiny House (one for me and one for my wife) and live happily ever after.


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