We caught up with John and Sherry Petersik, the duo behind the crazy popular Young House Love blog (and authors of the new book “Lovable Livable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You.” The parents of two shared their tricks for keeping your home beautiful while raising little ones, what they learned about raising kids and sharing lives through social media, and what’s next for their little family.
Decorating a nursery is one of the most fun parts of pregnancy. How can parents choose a theme? Any tips you tried?
Nurseries are definitely one of the most fun rooms to create because they don’t take themselves too seriously and you can have some fun!
We love starting with one item we love - whether that’s a big colorful piece of art or a cozy and playful rug - and working out from there. When you find that one “this is it!” piece to start with, it seems less intimidating to choose a wall color or curtains that go well with that item and it all starts to come together, piece by piece.
We also like to keep in mind that the best kids rooms are flexible so they can evolve as your child grows (and forms their own little personality and opinions). So sticking with themes like whales or flamingos on smaller accessories (like pillows, bedding, or art) can make it easier to switch them out later.
Meanwhile larger harder-to-change choices (like a curtain fabric or cozy armchair) will be more versatile if they’re neutral - so they can work with many different evolutions of that space over the years.
Renovations + children sounds like a recipe for disaster. How have you managed to handle the constant-evolution of your home and having kids inside?
I wish we had some magical formula, but we usually just work while they nap or sleep for the night if it’s a truly messy or detailed project.
There are definitely tasks like painting a side table or building something simple out in the garage that we can get away with doing by occupying them with something they love to do nearby (like drawing with chalk) but we know that window isn’t very long, so we feel less tugged in a thousand directions when we choose times that they’re sleeping to work on things that need all of our attention.
What do you recommend to stay on top of the constant cleaning of new parenthood? Do you have strategies to stay ahead on bottles, dishes, toys, laundry?
We just try to clean as we go.
Washing dishes after that meal, vacuuming the downstairs in one small pocket of time and then the upstairs a day or two later if there’s a spare moment, etc. That seems less daunting than trying to do one big marathon day of cleaning that might leave us tired and cranky.
The one thing (activity, product, habit) that helps keep our house in order every day. . .
We take our shoes off at the door, which does wonders for cutting down on dust, dirt, sticks, and sand that might otherwise get tracked all over. You’d be amazed what our kids can smuggle inside their shoes! It’s a jungle in there!
The cleaning product we can’t live without. . .
Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castille Soap! It’s a big bottle of concentrated soap that lasts for ages since it can be watered down before you use it. It does it all, from wiping down the counters and mopping the floors to washing hands. It’s organic and plant based so we love that it’s safe for the kids and pretty much every surface - we even wash the dog with it!
Our favorite way to reconnect as a couple is. . .
John & Sherry: Getting outside! We like to go for long walks or take a swim in the river with the kids. Anything for fresh air and to take a break from whatever crazy project we have going on at home! We’re also a big fan of the occasional dinner-and-a-movie date night. We’re pretty easy to please!
We have loved watching your family grow—and grow up—online, and yet you decided to take a break from blogging and social media in order to make more space in your lives for each other. What can other new parents learn from your experience?
It sounds a little cheesy, but that whole “if things aren’t working, change them! Nobody is going to do it for you” thing is so true.
It felt more than a little crazy to take a step back from such a flourishing business that we had worked incredibly hard to create for the past seven years, but we knew that it was the best way to move the needle on a lot of personal things that were much more important to us than website hits and Facebook likes.
We had been trying to accomplish a better work/life balance for years without much success since we had been making tiny changes instead of one big definitive choice - and suddenly taking this big risk helped us get there within weeks instead of years. It was definitely terrifying, but we’re in such a good place now- and we owe it all to taking a step back and reevaluating our goals for our family.
Everyone wants to know what’s new and what’s next with you! How is life with two little ones, and what’s on the horizon for you both?
We are excited that Young House Love has continued to live on in a way that we never imagined when we took that step back!
Our second book, Lovable Livable Home, just made The New York Times Best-Seller List, and we are continuing to design products for companies like Home Depot, which is a ton of fun.
We also occasionally drop in on the blog to share our latest adventures, and we spend our days working more “normal” jobs behind the scenes, which allow us to truly unplug on nights and weekends, which is definitely making us feel more inspired, creative, and happy. We are so grateful for what this past year has brought!