Housekeepers Mission Lists

By Alison February 8, 2010 2 Comments 4 Min Read

While I rather feel like a school ma’am rallying her troops, I wanted to set a little project for all those taking part in the Seasonal Scrub . You see I believe the Scrub is a rather wonderful time to take stock of your home: to look at it with an honest eye and say this is what needs to be done now.

This is what I need to replace or fix. This is what I can no longer live with and this, this is how I want the house to feel everyday.

This isn’t about massive transformation or keeping up with the Jones’s. You see I think too many of us focus on how our house looks and forget that by focusing on the way our home feels and by being true to our authentic needs we can create a home that both nurtures our souls AND pleases us aesthetically…

But I do understand that it is difficult to identify what to do, or what to buy that will make all the difference between feeling irritated by your home and feeling thoroughly and utterly, scrumptiously delighted by it.
And so I believe that we need a system: something that helps us to identify what it is that is bugging us and thus I recommend collating a set of Mission Lists: three to-do lists you write in your Vintage Housekeepers Planner as you start the scrub in earnest. something I have been committed to doing since 2005, and something I credit for the constant, reassuring sense that life is both constantly moving on and simultaneously improving.

As always remember that the method I describe below is of my own devising and you can make your lists in whatever way you choose, because it is your your house, not mine and only you know what will work for it…
“I start by taking an inventory of everything that is driving me mad from the moment I open my eyes in the morning till the moment I climb back into bed and just for one day I go about my business in the house mindfully: I open my eyes and notice that the screech of the alarm clock makes me feel shaky; that I have to walk across the room cold and naked in order to fetch my dressing gown and that there is a stain on the carpet by the door. I stand in the shower and notice that the soap is hard to reach and when I do it doesn’t smell particularly wonderful, that some of the towels in the bathroom are a little frayed and my toothbrush jug needs a thorough scrub…

And so it goes on: the doorbell makes me jump, there is no proper home for the abundance of teeny tiny toy cars littering the floor and I would like to be able to sit down and read a book on the armchair without having to bring cushions over from the sofa. The fresh coffee keeps spilling in the fridge, I don’t have a little
milk-pan for making decent hot chocolate and I can never find any bin bags. The light in the laundry room blinds me, there is a tear in the blind above the kitchen sink and the tap drips relentlessly…

I notice all of these things because they make my life uncomfortable, but I don’t notice the scary green wallpaper on the landing or the lampshade I would like to change, because for the moment these things serve the purpose for which they were intended and therefore do not make it onto my list…”
So for today simply take your housekeepers pad and as you scrub, or take your elevenses, note down everything that is bugging you. Don’t worry if you don’t see much initially, these things often don’t strike you till you are in the midst of a task: just make an effort to notice and eventually you will see that the things on the list fall into three distict groups:

1. To Throw Away and Replace.
2. To be Fixed, Cleaned or Re-Purposed.
3. To be Bought.

Over the next few days, start to divide your lists ready to form your mission lists in the Housekeepers Planner: ultimately they will form the basis of your action plan for the year, serve as shopping lists when you are treasure hunting and hopefully serve as a reminder that creating and maintaining home isn’t about fashion or buying the kind of clutter that will not fill the gaps in your life.

P.S: this isn’t to say that you are only allowed to think about need rather than want: BrocanteHome is, at its heart about the frivolities of life and there will be a chance to divine what your heart truly desires when the house is functioning as it should, but just as the seasonal scrub provides a blank canvas for making life pretty, the mission lists give us a map, and the Seasonal Scrub, a time when we are crawling in and out of all the nooks and crannies in our home, is the best time to draw it.

Happy Scrubbing Darlings!


  1. Ali H. says:

    I like those three points. I've never looked at things that way. Many thanks Alison!

  2. Jenny says:

    I have been flat out getting 3 of my 4 off to college and then a women's conference over the weekend. I work full time, so I'm planning the longer version of the seasonal scrub starting today. I'm a week behind the rest of the crew, but have decided I can't play catch up, I'll just move forward from where I'm at. I wanted to send a, "thank you" for all of your wonderful encouragement. Especially that in my favorite form — lists! : )

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