Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Manifesto Fundamental: Design Solutions Based on Behavioral Patterns

Acceptance and neutrality are critical. You’re like an anthropologist observing a newly contacted tribe - don’t judge, and don’t interfere, but do gather data. Gather data like the wind.

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Don’t Expect Anyone to Change!

Least of all you. You most likely didn’t wake up this morning say “YES! I get to rise out of bed and clean all of the things! I can’t flippin’ wait!” (Unless, of course, you are a wee bit tad sarcastic.) So don’t expect yourself to wake up that way tomorrow. That’s the beauty of permaculture. Once you’ve created your design, you can set-and-forget your processes. They’ll whir away in the background, freeing your mind up for more interesting things. Check out our section on Habit Formation to learn how these processes will “whir away.”

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Stop Being So Gosh-Darned Controlling

No, your husband won’t respond well to your request that he wash the dishes every night (unless he does, in which case, he’s mine - I’m coming for him.) No, your wife doesn’t want to change her laundry routine. No, your child is not going to suddenly prefer scrubbing toilets to play video games. And they shouldn’t have to. They’re masters of their own destinies (to a degree - families do have to work together, and children need a ton of guidance). And it’s not your job to let your sudden enthusiasm for “permaculture but it’s for house cleaning, you guys!” render their processes all asunder.

BUT FEAR NOT. You are not without recourse.

I am not being a bad feminist. I am an awesome feminist. I’m talking to you no matter what your age, gender, or political affiliation is. Don’t go trying to change people.

But! You can:

  • Lead by example.

I know. I know. The first option reeks of privilege and of copping out. But if you can, I recommend that you do. Leading by example looks like a cop out too - by me. After all, if leading by example worked we’d all… well.

But it turns out that leading by example works super well for creating a culture of family cooperation. I can inspire my husband to clean just by cleaning in front of him. If he walks out to a clean living room, I see him frolic back to the bedroom to put on some laundry and maybe fix that odd problem with the pool. All without any coercion from me. My son is the same way: if he sees me cleaning, he gets all inspired to help.

Alas, poor me. That is the kind of help I don’t need. =( But I love the enthusiasm! (And I don’t turn it down - are you kidding me?)

Part of your permaculture design for keeping house should NOT be randomly assigning your housemates new chores. Take this on by yourself. Own it. Be thrilled if they help.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip:Who Actually Does What? Check Your Assumptions

This is where your journal comes in. (Here’s a free printable.) Every time you notice something interesting about a room, object, user, or behavior make a little note. Keep going until you have, like, a bajillion entries. The more data you have, the better. Your journal will be indispensable when you begin crafting your design plan.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Process: Begin to Brainstorm How Your Might Design A Solution

So, you’ve got some data. What do you think? Have you spotted any notable behaviors? Can you see a link between a behavior an an object, or a process and a place? Start to think about how you can develop productive synergies around them. For example, when I noticed that my husband always took off his socks at his desk, I stuck a little hamper under his desk to catch them as they fell. Works like a charm.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Hint: Use small and slow solutions - easy does it. Remember the Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Motto - Lazy is Good!

Much like shoving a hamper under a desk, your solutions should be lazy-style. Make tweaks. Iterate. Don’t go ham. It’ll hurt your back and your pride. Unless you are maybe Martha Stewart, in which case… well, you have staff. (Not an infection. Like people you hired to help you.)

Just in case you don’t get it right the first time. What are you, Einstein?

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Footnotes!

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