Homemaking, as I see it, is based on a paradox: We order our homes to make them nurturing environments for life, yet life itself is inherently disorderly. The horns of this dilemma perpetually skewer our domestic decisions. Should I wrap the living room in plastic and rule it off-limits to children, food, and leisure activities—in short, to actual living—or should I let the day run its chaotic course, with kids and pets creating a debris-sedimentation rate that rivals rainfall in the Amazon basin? There's a boundary between the kind of neatness that enhances life and the kind that squelches it; knowing where to draw that line is key to domestic contentment—and it's different for everyone. Are you in your comfort zone?
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