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Book Report: How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis

KC Davis, LPC, hosts the Struggle Care Podcast and has more than 1.4 million followers on her TikTok account, Domestic Blisters. There's a good chance you've seen her content. Her content is like a cup of warm cocoa in a mug she rinsed out just for you after making a space for you to sit at the messy dinner table. Her book is the same. It feels like she's talking directly to you as a friend. Acceptance and compassion are her gifts, and they're catching.

How to Keep House While Drowning was released in 2020, but I think this book is so important for neurodivergent people, that I wanted to make sure it isn't missed. This book is for anyone, but it is especially valuable to people facing struggles including executive function issues, chronic illness, mental health episodes, or any other reasons that caring for one's home might be difficult. The first line of her book is, "this book has been designed for maximum accessibility for readers who are neurodivergent." It's a welcoming start to a book clearly made for us. The book contains a lot of reframing ideas people have about cleaning. This is based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is a widely used therapeutic intervention that can be used outside of therapy as well. CBT explores the link between thoughts and emotions and theorizes than identifying unhelpful thoughts and changing them will have an emotional benefit. CBT is thinking about our thoughts. Though it's not universally helpful for every situation, I think this is a perfect place for readers to challenge their ideas about the meaning of care tasks.

Some highlights and lessons from Davis include:

  • Self-compassion not inner bullying are what will make things easier to do. Davis calls the voice that mediates the bully the "compassionate observer." What would someone who cares say to the bully?

  • Care (chores, housework, and activities of daily living) is morally neutral. Thoughts we have about the goodness of cleanliness and badness of disorganization or dirt aren't based in reality.

  • "I deserve" is a way to reframe care to serve the people in the home and not the home itself. The living space has function and its function is to care for us.

  • Create systems that work with your needs and abilities. What works for others may not work for you. You don't need fixing, you need methods that are made for you.

  • Approach organization for function not attractiveness. Or at least start there.

  • "We're all somebody's Susie." When we compare ourselves to someone doing more with the same condition and believe that we would be happy if we were just like they are, remember that there's someone out there looking at you the same way.

  • "You're not responsible for saving the world if you are struggling to save yourself." Use paper plates if you need to.

  • Not having kids doesn't make difficulty meeting care tasks less valid.

  • "Rest is a right, not a reward."

  • This one is something I repeat a lot for others--"laziness doesn't exist."

  • Find a rhythm over a routine.

  • A personal favorite of mine and one my hoping to be published book centers on: "self-care was never meant to be a replacement for community-care."

  • Food and your weight are also morally neutral.

Davis includes advice for tackling specific home care tasks like laundry, dishes, and bathrooms. All of her advice is thoughtful and inclusive. She acknowledges the roles of gender, privilege, economics, and physical and mental health. All are welcome here. The message is clear: you matter and you deserve to feel safe and comfortable at home. She takes a moment to discuss the possibility of having trauma around cleaning based upon parental responses to our cleanliness or lack of it as children.

How to Keep House While Drowning is a quick read and a book you can easily refer back to or flip through to find just what you need from the start. It's forgiving and motivating in the most gentle ways. This is a book anyone who faces struggles with care should have on their shelves.

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