Aggie MacKenzie is a British expert on housekeeping – although not in the traditional sense. She focuses on the connection for adults between self-esteem and a clean home, as well as how that affects children’s sense of security. At a recent conference, Sustainable Living: Professional Approaches to Housework, she partnered with the Home Renaissance Foundation to kickstart a return to the “culture of home” that recent generations seem to have lost.
Don’t mistake MacKenzie for a British Stepford wife or a “bougie” reincarnation of housewives of the ’50s and ’60s. She’s adamant that obsession over housework is never a good thing, but a tidy and clean home should be a given in any household. Originally from Scotland, she grew up with strict ideas about housework. She remembers being afraid of being judged if her home wasn’t in tip-top shape, and today recommends a balanced (albeit clean) home environment.
The dark side of housekeeping
When thinking about TV shows like Hoarders, MacKenzie ticks off common issues: chronic coughing, skin infections, and in general, germs festering everywhere. The people who live in these homes develop an immunity, but it’s very dangerous for visitors. MacKenzie has often gone to this type of home to clean, and worn a mask, only to find herself on antibiotics afterwards. However, she learned something important from these efforts: A home embodies a person’s psychological mindset.
Many times, these people were deprived as a child and believed that was what they deserved. In other words, they had seriously low self-esteem. Of course, not everyone was deprived as a child; sometimes adult issues started the downward spiral, like bankruptcy, job loss, or the death of a loved one. Those unfortunates made their outer surroundings reflect what was happening inside.
No one’s immune
Mackenzie says that even when people hate their circumstances, it gets so bad that they feel hopeless, that they can’t escape; that’s where she and her crew step in. She’s also quick to point out that nobody is immune. Men and women, the middle class and lower class, and even people who look well groomed when they leave the house, may have a disaster at home. Mackenzie believes this is a relatively new phenomenon, and that more people “let their homes go” than they did 50 years ago.
According to MacKenzie, now that many women have full-time jobs, they depend on cleaners to care for their home. This means children aren’t taught how to keep house. This starts a vicious cycle, so even though children thrive on order, when left to their own devices they can’t typically self-teach pride in a home and cleaning skills. Insecurity builds in children when a home isn’t clean: they feel cut off from their peers and might even try to stay at a friend’s house as much as possible.
How to prevent a disaster
Mackenzie recommends everyone take pride in performing home chores, and encourages socializing in the home. It’s the heart of family life, but it requires work. Getting organized is often easier said than done, however, even for those who wouldn’t qualify as one of MacKenzie’s clients. Start tackling one room at a time, donate or throw away what isn’t used, and remember that a Zen space links directly to a happier inner state.
One way to get organized is by using storage, but you don’t have to commute to a distant facility. That wastes time and gas, so consider a company that delivers storage units to you. Your family can take their time packing up items for storage, and the company will re-deliver the unit when you need it.
It’s the perfect solution for those with a busy life.