Giving up? That’s for Marie Kondo

And suddenly the news came out… Marie Kondo gives up… Now with three children she prefers to enjoy time with them rather than tidying up the house…

Not hard to understand but I read this and I thought, surely it is now when order is more necessary… Surely it is now when everything she has taught the world, she should practise with her children… Now when that organizational discipline that gave so much peace and harmony to her home is going to help the whole family.

And I thought I have to tell her about our latest research carried out with the ICWF/IESE in which it is very clear that facing the work of the home with a positive attitude brings enormous benefits not just to relationships at home but also at a professional level.

“It is necessary to activate the reticular system in a positive way”, as psychiatrist Marian Rojas says, “those who are prepared, those who are organized, those who know, perceive opportunities much better.” The positive pilot allows us to see the good in things, and to see the rewards of putting good habits in place.

I would like to think that Marie Kondo has made these statements to emphasize that her children are her new priority and that her work is not above them, but a person to whom order and planning has given so much and has been shared with the world in such a successful way, I do not think that she now has her home as a lion’s den because she dedicates time to play with her children.

I say that because all those people who have taken the opportunity to throw in the towel; all those people who were making a strenuous effort to try to demand order and now, according to the headlines in the press, the Japanese guru has “given up”, have found the excuse to say that it was not possible. Keeping going really works! Happy habits help to make everyone feel truly at home.


NEW RESEARCH with ICWF/IESE Conclusions and Recommendation

We have just launched the conclusions and recommendations of the study HRF has been conducting with the International Centre for Work and Family of the IESE Business School. We became an academic partnership in 2020 and a series of surveys were carried out in collaboration with the Schlesinger Group for which now we have the results.

What were we looking for with this project? To find out what impact the work of the home has on the family, on marriage and on professional well-being.


Family health improves and is more stable when the attitude towards housework is positive. And this is not insignificant, because housework is often seen as a burden that nobody wants to take care of and for which there is an attitude of resignation. “Since I have no other choice, I do it”.

It is true that this study reveals differences between men and women, and we can see that attitudes change with age.  Men show greater interest in housework from the age of 35 onwards, whereas women consider, for example, that cleanliness and tidiness are fundamental from the age of 20, an attitude that becomes more relaxed from the age of 50 onwards. (See infographics)

With regard to the cross-correlated variables that refer to well-being at work, it is interesting to see how a positive and committed attitude towards housework increases the levels of job satisfaction, work engagement, psychological empowerment and positive job crafting. (See infographics)
Finally, and although reading the press releases you can find out much more, the risk of Phubbing is striking, and of course, technology was also present in the study. Phubbing is ignoring others by being on your phone or electronic devices. A practice that not only serves as a negative example for children at home (lack of technological reference) but also causes social isolation and problems in relationships. (See infographics)

Phubbing stems from the perception that you have to be highly available for your company even when you have left work. In men it is almost 50% and in women 33%. This is why companies are advised to develop policies of disconnection with their employees. It is essential that the rule is not that the employee arrives home and is attentive to email or the mobile phone.

The added benefits of housework

There is no home where it is not necessary to do the shopping, cooking, washing up, kitchen and bathroom cleaning, laundry, ironing and bedding. Technology advances at a pace, with new time-saving innovations being introduced into the home such as dishwashers, sprays to remove creases from the laundry to keep ironing to a minimum, robotic vacuum cleaners with built-in timers, supermarket deliveries to our homes and numerous kitchen gadgets that make life easier… and busier homes can outsource many of the chores, such as ironing or cleaning, getting others to lighten the workload.

But as heavy, boring and tedious as these tasks seem, the truth is that I find them useful in many ways. When you are little, they make you participate in the running of the home, they teach you to take on responsibilities, to do something for others, even to understand that however unpleasant our obligations seem, we must fulfill them.

Being in charge of these tasks at some point in our lives also teaches us to value the effort and work they require and in this way, understand how much it means for others to do them for us.

When you are an adult, you take charge and distribute the tasks, and whether or not you complete some yourself, it’s an opportunity to lead and to teach everyone to be generous and dedicated to their work. In this way, the home is built step by step and remains stable, whereas a disorderly, badly managed home can hide deeper problems that may not be visible on the surface.

When people reach retirement age, curiously, they often fully devote themselves to the work of the home, because it helps older people to stay active, to feel useful, and know that they can still bend over, still remember their mother’s recipes, and feel better prepared for whatever the future may bring.

Less is more, or not!

The more children you have, the less quality of life? Think again!
I have a friend who is something else. I don’t usually brag about friendships but I can’t help giving this dear friend a special mention.  Regardless of the particular country where I happen to be working or visiting, the circle of friends in which I find myself – be it a family reunion or a discussion about children and family life – my friend immediately springs to mind. Some people call her and her husband crazy but I haven’t noticed a constant stream of what might be classed ‘sensible’ people in my travels.

Each time she says she has a big announcement to make, you know in your heart it must be the news she has been sharing with us for a number of years – that they are expecting another baby. They now have 9 children – and as you come to get to know each child, your whole perception of what it means to be part of a large family changes.

The first comment people usually make when I talk about the family is “Of course they will surely be from some radical religious group?” And I am amused because my answer is, “I don’t know or care, but what I do know is that they belong to a group of people who possess a quality we should all imitate -generosity.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that their like-minded group of friends have equally large families but, economics aside,  they are all generous and give of themselves completely. I might not pass that test of sheer selflessness.

When you walk through their front door it immediately feels like a home. The first thing that hits you is the buzz and vibrancy of children offering to help. The disorder expected is non existent as everyone has a designated role to play, something they’ve been taught from a young age. Their five-year-old was setting the table, taking dishes from the cupboard at his height level and carefully arranging the knives and forks on the table. I could have offered to do it for him but I thought better of it.

There’s no need to speak about equality in this house because clearly, their home belongs to everyone. Their sons and daughters divide the chores equally and both parents manage to work outside the home, neither having to give up their chosen profession.

People often ask me if they have lots of nannies and are rich to afford so many children. The answer is negative to both those questions. But sometimes I don’t even bother to answer as it’s clear that, even after explaining everything, they still don’t understand that a team of 11 is much stronger than a team of just 3 – for prejudices of this nature are hard-wired into the human brain.


Too Posh To Wash?

-By Joanna Roughton

Is cleaning a moral virtue?

If there is an answer, then it is to theologians or ethicists that we might be tempted to turn. But it is a question with growing real-world relevance and, as such, it is something which affects us all.

I say this in light of the latest row in Britain regarding standards of care in NHS hospitals. There is a raging debate within nursing about whether some of our nurses, many of whom now have degrees, are “too posh to wash”. The theory, and that is all it is since proof would be impossible to come by, is that highly educated staff see mundane domestic tasks as beneath their pay grade. And here lies the rub, if you’ll excuse the pun. Since it is in the exercise of these very tasks that an intimate relationship between a carer and cared for, begins to take shape. 2

When we wash someone who is bed-ridden, we are involved in an intimate encounter. It requires, by its very nature, tenderness and frank communication. There can be no standing by the door, barking instructions. A carer who also cleans must, necessarily, be up close and personal. So cleaning, in the caring context, might be seen as morally, as well as pastorally, virtuous. But it might be possible to extend that analysis. On the macro scale the act of cleaning connects.

When I pick up my brush and sweep the yard, I am forming an invisible bond with all those people – predominantly women – for whom such tasks remain a daily necessity. It is brief opportunity to live out a universal and global human experience. One which provides a nexus, not only with the somewhere else, but another time too. As long as there has been dust, there have been cleaners! And on the micro scale, cleaning can be seen as a act of goodness. 3

Sometimes housework is presented as a straightforward binary choice between home and work. But this is to ignore an obvious, but frequently overlooked, third choice. It is entirely possible to elect to stay at home and do little or nothing. There are many men and women whose lives would be given form and structure, if only they could find the discipline needed to do the housework.

A “Shockingly Domestic” Actress On The Red Carpet

It’s a strange thing. We are so conditioned to the idea – the caricature really – of what a Hollywood starlet should be, that we are shocked when they don’t always play by the rules.

Take Julianne Moore. The actress has been doing a battery of interviews recently to publicise the release of her latest film, Non-Stop, co-starring Liam Neeson. She must be a showbiz editor’s worst nightmare. Her interviews do not reveal toe-curling neuroses. No diva tantrums. No history of self-harm or drug addiction. Instead there is domesticity and a passion, not for the leading man, but for home-making! In one interview, with the Sunday Telegraph, she outed herself as “tremendously, shockingly, domestic”.
Photo: AFPNot for her an army of helpers in the kitchen. This is a woman who rejoices in telling the world that: “I make a hot breakfast for my children every day, and I always put out place mats and napkins”.

Moore, 53, says she does all her own housework. “My house is very clean and organised,” she said, reminding those of us who have never had to fret about who to thank at the Oscars, that glitz and glamour are not everything. Indeed, her comments suggest that it is possible to imagine a world in which an orderly home might be a lifeline. For those navigating their way through life in the movies, with its reputation for high-octane living, instability and short shelf-lives – there is something to be said for the deeper roots provided by a well-run home.

On one level, it might be said that Moore evinces a desire to assert some control while working in an industry whose practitioners are famously vulnerable to the whims of fashion. A home where, as a mother and a spouse, Moore draws sustenance from the  quotidian drawing-up of household rules and development of domestic regimens. I imagine that amid the ephemera of the entertainment business, the ability to pick up a vacuum cleaner or a cooking pan, and instantly see results, could be quite an antidote to the long, drawn-out process of film-making. Could the humdrum and practical throw all those sensitive showbiz egos into relief?

This is not to endow housework with transcendant properties. As Be Home has argued before, there is necessarily much about home-making that entails unheralded drudgery. But there is also something about being in control of our most sacred personal space – our home – which amounts to a privilege. It is refreshing to hear someone like Julianne Moore state candidly that she sees it that way. This is a woman who has the financial wherewithal to contract out every aspect of household management – and elects not to.