Minimally Viable Housekeeping (HARDBACK)


HARDBACK. BOOK FOUR IN THE MS BLAELOCK’S BOOKS SERIES OF PRACTICAL AND USEFUL SELF-HELP/PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT BOOKS. When you’re busy, taking care of your home takes too much time and energy, leaving you tired and discontented. Minimally Viable Housekeeping translates business effectiveness and efficiency techniques for the home. Making more time for living.


Do you struggle every day to get it all done?

If you’re fulfilling work and family obligations with little or no help, you know it’s a constant battle to keep your home in order. Often, it’s all or nothing – you’re catching up on one front but losing on another.

Comparing historic house and modern hotel operations, ex-Project Manager Alexandria Blaelock reveals how:

  • What goes on in your head affects what goes on in your home.
  • Focusing on what’s right for your family reduces your to-do list.
  • Standardising saves you time and effort.
  • Planning and scheduling makes it all happen.
  • Not to feel guilty about seeking help.

Minimally Viable Housekeeping is Blaelock’s fourth book applying business techniques to personal concerns. Using these productivity techniques to manage your home will free up the time and energy you need to live a life worth living.

For signed copies and bulk orders, please contact

Introduction 1
What is Housekeeping? 7
Why Do Housekeeping? 45
Who Does the Housekeeping? 55
When Does It Get Done? 67
Where Does it all Happen? 77
How: Getting It Done Effectively 89
How: Getting It Done Efficiently 99
Conclusion 123
Appendix A: For Those Working at Home 127
Appendix B: Housework Survey: What You Really Think 137
Appendix C: Example Job Description 141
Glossary 145
Bibliography 147
Index 149
Author’s Note 154
About the Author 155


If you could see my face, it would probably have the perpetual scowl of someone who is a full-time creative, full-time business operator, and full-time home manager. And I’m lucky – some have a fourth full-time job caring for their children or parents and some are full-time educators of their children too.

And somewhere in there we have to care for ourselves as well, or we’ll go nuts, and there may be carnage. Or worse.

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones, and your partner recognises the value of your non-home related jobs and puts their dirty underpants in the laundry hamper and their dishes in the dishwasher. But more likely, you’re trying to juggle one or more paid jobs with a side gig/income producing hobby and still maintain some sort of order in your home.

It’s bloody hard work.

You are a unique and special individual. I believe you were put on this Earth to do something magnificent. You might disagree, but whether you believe in a Deity’s plan, or the randomness of evolution doesn’t matter. There is only one of you, with your unique gifts and talents, and the opportunity to make this planet better than it is.

Having said that, maybe your magnificence is a well run and comfortable home. If so, this book is probably not for you. You should move onto advanced home management techniques like the psychology of comfort, interior design to nurture young brains or home care of the terminally ill.

Similarly, if you’ve a full-time housekeeping career running a hotel or some other kind of residential facility, you can move on too. Find a different type of continuous professional development program.

If, however, you’re neck deep in activities related to one or more jobs and finding housework a time-sucking imposition you could do without, then you’re in the right place.

Despite what most people think, historically speaking, it’s only relatively recently that women’s choices were reduced to marriage and staying home to care for their house and family. Yet even in today’s “liberated” world, the background belief that a woman’s place is in the home survives.

In some cases, the cost of replacing a housewife is so high many families have no option but for someone to stay at home. And with the gender pay disparity, that’s usually the wife.

Even though some high-powered female executives would like a wife to take care of the housekeeping, it’s more likely her partner feels it’s best done by her. Regardless of the work she does, her hours or her income. Or how many breakfast meetings, networking events and late-night business deals she’s responsible for.

And regardless of her income, she (and you) are guilt-ridden for not doing what you think is required of a “good” wife. And good, in this case, is both a general moral expectation and an indication of satisfactory performance.

So, how much does a good wife cost? Well, it depends on whether you’re talking about her replacement cost (to buy all the services she undertakes), her opportunity cost (the loss you face without her), or compensation cost (for her death or disablement). And whether you’re talking about the quantity or quality of her work.

It doesn’t help that many people believe it’s a woman’s nature to care and nurture (as opposed to her circumstances making it necessary).

And following this, that women don’t need formal education for it because they instinctively know how to care for their homes and families.

It took women like Catherine Beecher (1800 – 1878) and Ellen Richards (1842 – 1911) to push for formal domestic science education covering the basics of food and nutrition, budgeting, resource management and sewing. Not just at school, but university level too.

More recently, domestic science seems irrelevant in the face of technological changes including chemical cleaning products, ready-made meals, refrigerators, and dishwashers. We are once more thrown back to instinct and the assumption “mother knows best”. Along with “cleanliness is next to godliness” and “women’s work is never done”.

I learnt about being a housewife during the 1970s and 80s. I learnt from my mother, who learnt from her mother during the 1930s and 40s. And my grandmother learned about housekeeping from her mother in the 1910s.

There’s quite a lot of difference between Grannie’s childhood home and mine – my great Grandpa worked in a coal mine, and they rented a cottage owned by the business nearby. Great Grannie cooked over an open fire and didn’t have running water or electricity. She didn’t go to school, couldn’t read, didn’t know anything about germs, only that hard work was her lot in life.

And to make matters worse, my parents thought a good education was critical for a better life, (I was the first to get a University qualification). They believed it was more important I spend time studying and preparing for University entrance exams than doing chores, so when I left home to live in student digs, I had no idea how to cook or clean. I more or less made it up as I went along. So much for instinct.

But like you, I’m sick of having that argument about who is and isn’t pulling their weight in the housework department. It’s time to cut the crap and figure out what is and isn’t necessary, and how to get it over in the shortest possible time so I can get on with the activities I think make life worth living.

So, from here on, I’ll be referring to housework as housekeeping because my work is writing and editing.

I ensure the tasks required to keep the house in a reasonable state get done – I manage the housekeeping, but I don’t necessarily do it myself.

As a youngster in primary school, I learnt the basic 5W1H research/problem-solving technique, and this book applies that technique to housekeeping:

  • WHAT exactly is this housekeeping of which you speak?
  • That sounds boring, WHY do it?
  • Okay maybe, but WHO does it?
  • And WHEN does it get done?
  • And WHERE does it all happen?
  • But HOW does it all get done?

We’ll look at each of these questions, figure out how they apply to you, and what your version of minimally viable housekeeping looks like. Which will be different to mine because we’re not living the same life.

To help with this, I’m going to use the Julian Fellowes’ TV series Downton Abbey to illustrate how the housekeeping got done in a late Victorian era country house.

You don’t need to have seen the show because I’ll explain the concepts, but if I mention Mrs Hughes or Mrs Patmore, it may be easier for you to understand what I am trying to say.

Downton Abbey is, of course, fiction and doesn’t include a lot of everyday household activity, but it’s a good representation nonetheless.

And for a little modern-day action, I’ll compare this with hotel operations.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, I’d like to warn you about what Christine Frederick (1883 – 1970) called “Competent Counsel”.

She was a domestic scientist and advocate of scientific home management in the days when running water and electricity were only just becoming household realities.

She wrote books applying efficiency and productivity principles in the home but is mostly forgotten aside from academics (and me).

One of her tips I’m fond of is to make a comfortable place where you can rest (nap even) between heavy chores. A nest if you like – pets optional.

Anyway, Mrs Frederick argued there’s no place for common sense in housekeeping, and housekeepers should stay up to date with the latest changes in technology and practices that could increase the comfort and ease of housekeeping.

For which, you take “competent counsel” (expert advice) from books, magazines, appliance manufacturers and government departments.

And while I agree you should stay up to date, and upgrade as appropriate, I also think you need to be a little critical (in the academic sense) of the advice given and question the source’s credentials and motive:

  • Is the magazine advising you on achieving a bum of Kardashian proportions, how to apply the latest smokey eye makeup, and please your partner in bed a credible source of housekeeping advice?
  • What sort of commission arrangement does the vacuum cleaner salesperson work on, and does this affect the reliability of their advice?
  • Is the scientist telling you to wash your towels every other day with antibacterial detergent, paid by the manufacturers of the laundry detergent? What kind of towels were they researching? What were the experiment parameters? Did the research relate to disease transfer in bathrooms or bacterial contamination of food or kitchen surfaces? Has the media misrepresented the outcome?
  • Is the government department looking after consumer or other interests?

And for that matter, even me – while I want you to feel comfortable and in control of the housekeeping you do (and not feel guilty about what you don’t), I also want you to buy my books, so I get a couple of bucks after I’ve had them made.

We recommend storing your book away from sunlight on a clean dry shelf, washing your hands before you pick it up, and not licking your fingers to turn the pages. If you’d like to preserve it for the long-term, don’t dog ear the pages, put a bulky bookmark in, or prop it open on the table to mark your place.

But if you want to read it in the bath with a glass of wine, or scoff a kebab for lunch while you read, we won’t tell.

Our supplier bookvault, prints, and ships from its UK facility, usually within 72 working hours. Once printed, they’re shipped according to your choice of standard or express, tracked or untracked. The cart shows estimated delivery timeframes (no need to start a purchase process first).

Please be aware the current global situation includes pandemics, war, climate events such as fires and floods, as well as plain old staff shortages. Thus, we cannot guarantee production and shipping times.

Returns are only accepted for faulty items when you contact us at within 7 days of receiving the book (according to the tracking). Use the subject “returns,” include your name, order number, reason for return, and photographs of faulty item. We’ll refund or resend – your choice.

Additional information

Weight 0.301 kg
Dimensions 21.6 × 14 × 1.3 cm


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Minimally Viable Housekeeping (HARDBACK)”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *