Saturday, September 4, 2010

Attempting the Shoeless House

Our new house has a lot more hardwood floors than our old house. After the move and a few weeks here, we realized going shoeless might be our only chance to keep the floors anywhere near clean.

We would have attempted this in our old house except that we had no proper entry hall. The front door plunked you in the living room, and the back door entered into the micro-kitchen. Stopping to take off our shoes - especially as a family of four - never felt practical or possible.

Now we have the dream entry hall but find that we need something else: discipline. I find it relatively easy some of the time to stop and deshoe, but I'm stymied by a few things.
  • What do I do when I need to run out the back door to throw something away or dump the compost? Stopping to put my outside shoes on seems like too big a deterrent to a short, necessary trip.
  • In general, what do I do about going out the back door when we put the shoe rack in the front hall? Do I put my shoes on up front? If I do that, I'm tracking the dirt to the back door.
  • What do we do about guests? Westerners who haven't made this choice in their own homes don't necessarily adjust well. I know; I've done the "Oh, should I take off my shoes?" routine as a guest in other people's houses. Many people say not to worry about it. But then what? You have to clean because you didn't tell your friends to deshoe?
  • And the doozie in my life: what the heck do we do when we've gotten out to the car and then realize we've forgotten something inside? Stop and deshoe when we're already late and harried. Because we always seem to be late and harried.
I'm probably turning something reasonably simple - take off your shoes except when circumstances make that difficult - and making it more doctrinaire and principled than it need be. That would be like me.

I'm interested in a little dialog and feedback on this issue from those who've succeeded at the transition and those who have failed/given up.


~liz said...

it takes about 3.5 years for children to remember to take their shoes off upon entering the house. shoes racks are worthless unless you are committed to picking up foot-thrown shoes off the floor and putting it on the rack yourself.
we have shoe piles at each door, and boots on the front porch and back deck. i'm pretty strict about the boots being taken off outside because of pasture poop.
again, 3.5 years later and everyone follows the rules! woo hoo!!!
good luck.

Jacksons said...

Slippers! Yahoo. Any excuse to by some stylish slippers. I think the key is living in a very hot climate. You wear flip flops everywhere and they kick-off nicely. Colder weather, it is just a pain but something that you can get used to. Like giardia I suppose. If you had it long enough you'd just be like "This is what you do during the day. You sit on the john." You know? So, go through that painful time and you'll be like: "This is what you do. You tie and untie shoes 27 times a day, times four."

Hope that helps Jeff.

Chip said...

Garden Clogs or slip-on rubber boots for the quick trips out to trash or compost.

Amy said...

We are shoeless. I'm surprised how rigid the kids are about taking off their shoes. They rarely forget. I agree with the slippers and garden clogs/flip flops for the quick trip to the compost. And, we have piles of shoes at both doors. We *try* to keep the pile limited to the pair of shoes we are each using the most, and putting away the rest.
Going to help Roger fish a dead bird from between our windows. Woohoo.

Kevin said...

Dude, does the expression "make a mountain out of a molehill" mean anything to you? ;-)

The answer is flip-flops

JFo said...


Look at all this delicious conversation my molehill has generated.

Azure said...

Clogs work when it's too cold for flip-flops. (Like yesterday, when it was only 70 degrees!)

I have a super tall shoe rack - one row for each person. My kids are also rigid about taking off their shoes, though not so rigid about the shoe rack.

Anonymous said...

Home means taking of my shoes. I have a harder time keeping shoes on in other people's homes. Ikea sells shoe boxes that have lids that flip down, and they stack on each other pretty narrowly against the wall. The flip top and the space of the boxes makes throwing shoes in a lot faster (for boys or others who don't care about shoe upkeep), no need to take time for fitting them on a rack or neatly in cubbies.

Your sister

K said...

This is not shoeless advice so much as clean floors advice--get some really good doormats. A rough one to lie outside and get off clods and large debris, and an absorbent one to lie inside and get off moisture and any last bits of dirt. Helpful for friends who want to keep their shoes on (if you give them that option), and also for you if you have to run back in for something quick--you *know* you will make use of those doormats!

Also can I say--when you invite people for An Event, let them know that they are welcome to bring slippers/indoor shoes. About seven years ago, when I was about seven months pregnant, I went to a baby shower in my own honor, and I went to some significant effort to put on actual dressy-ish shoes, which I hadn't done in many weeks because my extremities were so swollen that it was a pain in the neck. So anyway, I arrived at my host's house, where I had never been before, only to be told that I must doff the shoes I had labored so to don. If only I had been warned, I could have a) not put the fancy shoes on, and b) brought my own slippers, which I like better than the ones my host kindly loaned me.

Other than that, what everyone else said--shoes at both doors, slippers for all, including your guests, and sometimes when the shoes you need are stationed at the wrong door, just carry them to the right door. Shoes without laces become even more convenient, of course. Also it's nice to have a chair near the door, if there's enough room for it.