Joanna Gaines knows the struggle of keeping a tidy home while raising kids. The mother of five chronicles the pressure she felt to maintain a spotless home in her new book Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave ($23.99, Amazon). It wasn’t until Joanna had a design epiphany — no, it doesn’t involve shiplap — that she realized the pursuit of perfection was leaving her exhausted and unhappy.
Before Joanna and her husband, Chip, were stars of the HGTV show Fixer Upper, they were approached by some smaller regional magazines that wanted to photograph and feature the Gaines’ home. This new attention caused Joanna to feel like she constantly had to have a picture-perfect home. Eventually, it dawned on her that her obsession with ensuring her house was always spick and span had pushed her children out of the home. “In my nonstop efforts to make the house look good for a bunch of anonymous strangers, I had failed to create a space where my children could simply be kids,” she writes.
Fortunately, Joanna found an opportunity for a do-over when Chip announced he’d put down an offer on a new house. Realizing this was her chance to put her family first in the renovation process, Joanna totally changed her design mentality: “I wanted to make every house we would ever live in be for and about us.”
At their new abode, Joanna watched her kids interact with the space. “Just as quickly as I opened the door the kids took off down the hall, giggling and squealing. That’s when I had an epiphany that started to change absolutely everything for me. My kids loved it in this house. They could be kids… For the first time, I saw how inspiring it was for them when I simply carved out a space that could stretch their young imaginations. I realized that as parents we can either lose our minds to our kids’ messes and the endless cleanups or we can choose another perspective.”
If you’re planning on renovating your home soon, keeping Joanna’s advice in mind is key for creating a space the whole family can enjoy. For those who are just tired of feeling judged for having a messy home, think of small sections of clutter as proof that your family is truly using every bit of the house to its full potential. Anyone who’s bothered by the mess obviously doesn’t understand the struggle of living with a house full of kids — so who cares what they think?