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March 27, 2023

A Floor Plan Designed for Mom

What is “working mom’s guilt?” My female readers probably know what this is. But for you guys, working mom’s guilt is the dilemma mothers find themselves in as they struggle to do it all – have a successful career, raise a family, be a wonderful wife, and keep a clean house.

I used to think I was the only woman with “working mom’s guilt.” Then I discovered my best friend from college, another architect, had it as well. We both came from family structures with stay-at-home moms. While we both had successful careers, our houses were never as neat as the ones we grew up in. Maybe our guilt was a generational thing. But wait – my niece has it too. She is half my age and came from a family with a working mom. Perhaps this phenomenon transcends generations.

Since I couldn’t do it all, I had to prioritize. Keeping a pristine and spotless house was at the bottom of my list. My interior design friend told me her idea of housekeeping was low-level lighting. Funny, but as an architect and working mom, there are key design strategies to lessen the guilt. The first is to “Protect the Path to the Owner’s Suite”. Next is “Don’t Cross the Streams”. The third is the Messy Kitchen.

Protect the Path to the Owner’s Suite

In our house, the kids’ rooms and bath were upstairs. Often, they were not clean, but I didn’t have to be exposed to their messes on a daily basis – I would save that stress for the weekend. During the week, I was exhausted from a day of trying to do it all, the last thing I wanted to see was their messy rooms. This phenomenon has shaped the way I design. Don’t make moms walk past their kids’ bedrooms at the end of the day so we can see what a failure we’ve been at keeping a clean house. Instead, I want to protect the path to the owner’s suite.

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Over the years, I have come across designs that do just the opposite. This is especially true of two-story homes where the owner’s suite is on the second floor. Imagine the path to the Owner’s Suite below:

• You come to the top of the stairs – to your right is messy kid number one’s bedroom. Ugh.

• Then you pass the laundry room, where kids trying to be helpful have tossed in so many dirty clothes that the door can’t close. Thanks guys!

• Next, you come across the kids’ bathroom. The door is open and there you see wet towels on the floor and toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror (at least they are brushing their teeth)

• Just as you’re about to turn to your retreat, you come across kid number two’s underwear on the floor – dropped after they took their bath.

By the time you’ve reached your room, your “sanctuary” feels more like an asylum. This can all be avoided!

Don’t Cross the Streams

There is so much wrong with this floor plan. I recommend zoning a floor plan so the kids can be at one end of the house and the parents at the other – their paths should not cross. Give kids the shortest distance possible to the bathroom – because inevitably, one of them will forget their clothes and have to do the naked run back to their room. And since the invention of the baby monitor, kids’ rooms can be separated from mom and dads.

The Messy Kitchen

Yes – this is a play on words. The Messy Kitchen is an alcove off the kitchen where we can be less than tidy – you know, to actually get things done.

This is where the counter can be cluttered with all the small appliances like the blender, toaster, and coffee maker. This is a great place for the kids to toast their frozen waffles on Saturday morning while Mom and Dad try to sleep in. Perhaps there’s a second refrigerator which has the kids juice boxes and cheese stick snacks. This is a perfect solution for that frantic end of the day meal prep time, allowing the kids to snack without getting the boiling hot pot of spaghetti spilled on them as the evening meal is being prepared. Hey – it could happen!

These are floor plan solutions that all mothers can appreciate. I would love to hear from my readers any other suggestions to make our houses less burdensome so mom’s can spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying their family time.

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters