I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
January 5, 2016
When I was growing up, the one thing my mom always made sure we had was a housekeeper. Even when we were so poor we used a kerosene heater to heat our den and could only afford ten-cent packets of Kool-Aid to drink, we always, always, always had a maid. For those of you who are like, “Whaaaa–?”, IT’S CALLED PRIORITIES, PEOPLE.
Now, I am an adult, and my husband and I have chosen to spend our money on central heating and cheap wine as opposed to a maid– but because of my upbringing, there’s one major problem with this plan– I am a horrible housekeeper.
Don’t get me wrong– I keep things pretty damn clean around here. But I’ve had to learn how to do everything on the fly, and it shows. With no multigenerational legacy of housekeeping lore to draw from, I’ve instead spent years bumbling around my house like a moron, having no earthly idea of how to get rid of the mildew stains in the shower or the greasy gunk on the grill or the crayon marks on the wall. Generally, I look up solutions on the Internet which, believe it or not, isn’t all that helpful when it comes to housecleaning. A surprising number of people seem to think Windex and Dawn soap are the answer to everything– but neither product has done much for me beyond what’s promised on the label.
As an alternative, I’ve learned to take preemptive measures. It didn’t take me long, for example, discover that keeping a carpet stain and mud-free was far easier than trying to get stains out of it after it had been trampled on– and so I created a new tradition:
THE FERRIER FAMILY SHOE BASKET.
We’ve had a shoe basket by the front door for over a decade now- Every Ferrier (and every Ferrier kid’s friend) takes his or her shoes off and (theoretically, anyway) places them inside the basket after entering the house. Although most Ferriers have an unfortunate habit of placing their shoes beside the basket instead of inside it (bless them), the overall goal has nevertheless been achieved: My carpets and floors stay a whole lot cleaner than they would otherwise.
But while all Ferriers and their little friends are expected to abide by the no-shoes-in-the house rule, asking other adults who come over to remove their shoes is something I’ve never even considered doing. Some of our guests over the years have noticed the shoe basket and taken their shoes off without comment- I assume they prefer no shoes in their own homes, so taking off their shoes in mine is second nature. Others see the shoe basket and ask whether they need to remove their own shoes. I’ve always told them it’s totally up to them. Expecting a guest to remove his or her shoes seems unspeakably rude to me, particularly if the person wasn’t expecting to do so ahead of time. I mean, what if they have holes in their socks? Or a chipped and peeling pedicure? Or… *shudder*… toe fungus?
I know all too well the consternation and muttered curses that come from scrubbing at mud and fruit tree stains that a shoe-wearing guest has left behind– but I assumed this was my own private burden to bear– at least until I spotted this post on a Facebook group page:
Seriously, y’all? There are people out there who expect EVERYONE to take their shoes off upon entering their home, just so they can keep their floors clean? This is a THING?
Why, yes. Yes it is.
This was just one of hundreds of comments on the Facebook post, and the commenters were solidly divided into two camps: Shoes OFF and Shoes ON. What resulted was a back and forth that at times got as nasty as the bottoms of a cow farmer’s boots.
For the record, let me just state right now from experience that your no-shoes rule probably won’t keep your precious little ones from ingesting the germs found on the soles of shoes. Witness my son’s favorite teething toy once he started crawling:
I can’t tell you how many times I found him like this, gnawing away at a sole in the apparent belief that the family shoe basket was his own private toy box. Ew. Ew. Ewwww.
And yet, miraculously, the child survived.
Soon, commenters began posting photos of actual signs that have been manufactured to put out in your home so that your guests know their shoes are not included in the invite.
They ranged from the ‘humorous’:
To the straightforward:
To the full-on confrontational:
What. The. Hell. People. That is just plain rude.
And then there appeared, in my opinion, the ULTIMATE in #takingthingstoofar:
The no-shoes notice as an actual, honest-to-god decorating scheme.
No words. No. Words.
A few peacemakers tried to instead suggest disposable booties for guests who aren’t inclined to go shoes-off, but I think this response to the suggestion said it all:
Why were people so heated over this issue? To some extent, it seemed to have something to do with cultural traditions. In some parts of the world, it’s apparently considered rude to keep your shoes on when inside someone’s home- Commenters mentioned Korea and Hawaii both have a shoes-off tradition, which I knew about, but then several Canadians chimed in to say that everyone in Canada takes their shoes off when inside someone’s home as well. Although I didn’t know that shoes-off was the unwritten rule for our northern neighbors, it doesn’t surprise me at all, because we all know that everything’s better in Canada. Including the cleanliness of their carpets.
In the southern states, on the other hand, most people claimed to not only leave their own shoes on when inside the house, but also agreed that it would be rude to ask someone else to take their shoes off. Of course, this is assuming that there are no newborns or very sick people in the house- In that case, I believe a host can ask of guests anything he or she wants.
For me, the bottom line to this battle finally came with this short but sweet comment:
The fact is, I believe a solution to the shoes-on/shoes-off dilemma that everyone could live with can be found right in my own coat closet…
A Swiffer Wet Jet, Shark vacuum, and Hoover carpet cleaner (and a bucket and mop, which are in my garage) are a small price to pay in exchange for your sanity- not to mention your hostessing reputation. It took me a long time to find the right products for the job, but now that I have, it’s important to me that you to know about them, too– especially those of you who, like me, are completely clueless about housekeeping. If, with this post, I can save one woman from a nervous breakdown over the dog shit currently smeared across her Berber carpet or prevent one guest from backing slowly away from the hand-lettered burlap ‘Take your mother effing shoes off or go home’ sign placed on the front door, then it was all worth it.
After all… I’m not completely sole-less.
Header image via Etsy.
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