Shoes on or shoes off in the house is such a touchy subject. Most people feel very strongly towards the topic altogether. But I’m not scared to dig into the deep stuff, so when I had a reader ask me about the baskets of shoes by my door in one of my earlier posts, I decided it’s time I get real about it.
Yes, we are a shoes-off household. No, we haven’t always been one. And yes, our family and friends had a bit of difficulty getting used to it. But if you’ve ever considered making the switch to a shoes-off in the house policy, for whatever reason, this post is for you. I’ll share exactly how we made the switch, the obstacles we ran into, and how we make it work for us.
I Didn’t Grow Up Like This
Now I will preface this as I am a girl who lives in the south. My grandparents own a farm. Shoes in the house was just something I was used to. I never had anyone in any house that ever asked anyone to take off their shoes. (Unless they had cow manure on them, in which my grandmother would chase you out if she caught it.) I never grew up with that mentality. It didn’t matter if we had carpet or hardwoods, it was always the shoe-wearer’s choice whether to wear or take off.
So here I am, a thirty-something-year-old woman, running a household with a husband, a preteen boy, and three pets, with a basket by the door and shoes that never make it past the welcome mat. How?!? Y’all are thinking I’m some kind of magician, right? But honestly, I had no intentions of making this happen. It actually started because of a rug.
How Our No-Shoes Policy Began
I drooled over those white cowhide rugs for pretty much my whole life. When I finally got one, I felt like I was living the height of luxury! I named her Sheila and I promised her I’d never let shoes touch her pretty white [faux] fur. So the minute Sheila claimed her spot in the living room at our old house, I was very vocal that she could only be touched with socks or bare feet. I’ll admit, I was known to semi-shout “No Shoes On Sheila!” if I saw my son’s shoe soles getting close.
It took some training of our frequent houseguests, but eventually everyone knew that shoes and Sheila didn’t mix. Although we never really made anyone take off their shoes, it just seemed easier to take them off at the door than risk seeing the waterworks take over my face if something stained “her.”
So when we were in the process of building our new house, my husband and I came to the realization that *everything* in this house is new. We can’t blame a floor scuff on a previous owner. We can’t be mad about a spot that doesn’t come up. We are completely responsible for the care of this home and no one has ever owned it except us. So when the builders put in matte flooring (we bought mid-build so the builder had already chosen and ordered the flooring before we signed the contract) I snuck a sample out of the house to take home to test.
Y’all, that same scratched up with one swipe of a retracted pen. I was so upset, and I knew these floors would be trashed in no time. Not to mention that they cover the entire first floor. That’s when the stars aligned and my hubby and I thought the same thing at the same time. We rarely wear shoes in our current house, so why not just ban them from the new one?
I wish I could say it was some glamorous reason like we were being health-conscious or protecting our kid and pets from harmful germs. But honestly, we just wanted to take care of our stuff. And while it may be a selfish reason to begin with, we’re still getting those health benefits. And we only have to mop the floors once every two weeks before they never really get dirty. In our old house we were mopping every three days!
How We Made The Transition
1. We Started Small
Jumping straight from Shoes Anytime to Shoes Never would’ve been a disaster waiting to happen. It’s just too hard to make a huge switch like that overnight. In the case of Sheila, we started by just simply not allowing shoes to touch the rug. Then we slowly moved into the idea that shoes won’t touch any rugs or carpet. Eventually it made it easy to just leave the shoes at the door. (And it started to become a pain to play “Rugs Are Lava” all the time.
2. We Made It Easy
If we started this whole venture by just hoping that we’d all remove our shoes, walk them to the closet, and immediately put them away, this wouldn’t have even lasted a week. We knew that in order to remind and incentivize us to keep it up, we had to have somewhere to actually put the shoes when we take them off. In our old house, I installed some floating shelves from Target below the windows to hold the shoes. And in our new house, we have two large baskets by both our front and back doors.
3. We Informed Our Family
This is a big one. Right after we moved into our new house, we invited our family over. Nigel’s side and my side. And in the text invite, we were sure to mention “We’ve decided to make our new house a no-shoes zone, so make sure you wear cute socks!” That eased the stress of being caught by surprise when someone could have potentially worn the holey socks from the back of drawer, but also prepared them so we wouldn’t have to police the door to tell everyone in person. Way less awkward.
And bonus points too, because now when our family comes over, it turns into somewhat of a sock fashion show to rock your coolest ones. Nobody ever sees the colorful funny socks that get hidden under pants and shoes, so everyone loves showing off their bacon and flamingo socks.
Roadblocks You May Run Into
Implementing a whole new policy for how you live and entertain in your house isn’t going to be smooth. I wish I could say it will, but it definitely will not. People are going to slip up. You’re going to slip up. It’s going to be awkward sometimes. There’s no getting around it.
But I guarantee you aren’t making this big switch for no reason at all. Whatever that reason is, whether it’s health-conscious or just an overly-obsessive new floor Mom, you’re passionate enough about it to want to change. So when things go wrong, don’t freak out and don’t give up. All new habits take time.
Roadblock #1: You’re afraid your kids won’t be on board.
Girl, it took SO long for me to get my kid to remember! But when I added the shelves and the baskets and gave him a special spot for his shoes, it instantly clicked. He really liked having one spot that was just his, and no one else’s stuff would ever be there. Plus, he admitted that he actually likes not wearing shoes in the house and thinks it’s weird that we did it in the first place.
Roadblock #2: Your husband isn’t on board.
Okay, this one’s definitely a road block, and it can stop you in it’s tracks. If your hubby isn’t on board, you better just give it up for now. Forcing the co-owner of your home to do something he doesn’t want to do is never going to work. And unless you are both 100% in, it will never be enforced. Sure, he may take them off when you’re home, but I guarantee he’ll shrug his shoulders and stroll in with his wet sneakers when you’re not. You need your partner to be just as passionate as you are or it’s not even worth doing.
Roadblock #3: You’re worried guests will be annoyed.
Hey, they might. But they also might not like the paint color in your dining room. Or the gallery wall around your TV. Or the polka dot wine glasses you put out. Do you stress over those things when they come over? Of course not. Those are part of your home. Your home. A No-Shoes policy is part of your home as well, and guests will always respect that. If they’re annoyed about it, they’ll likely never tell you.
Just be sure to give them a head’s up before they come over. Again, nobody wants to be seen wearing the ugly used-to-be-white socks from the back of the drawer. Be respectful of them by letting them know a few days before their visit, and they’ll be respectful of your house rules.
Roadblock #4: You don’t think your kids’ friends will oblige.
I’ll tell you one thing for sure, my son’s friend that lives next door follows the No-Shoes policy better than anyone I’ve ever invited to our house. Noah told him the first time he came over, showed him where to put his shoes, and he’s never made it past the mat in his shoes. He never forgets, and when his sisters come to tell him it’s time to go home, he quickly instructs them to take theirs off too. You shouldn’t worry about your kids’ friends at all. They follow your house rules better than your own kids 99% of the time.
- Changes won’t happen overnight. A No-Shoes policy is something that takes time to get used to.
- Your spouse MUST be on board, and feel just as strongly about the change as you do. If not, it’s never going to work.
- Make sure you’ve got a place to put the shoes, like a shelf, cubby, or basket, and include a place to sit to remove them.
- Tell your guests days ahead of time of your policy and to avoid sounding bossy, throw in a “now you can show off your favorite pair of socks” line.
- Evaluate how you feel after a trial run. Are you mopping less? Does your house feel cleaner? Do you stress less over your floors and rugs? If you feel good about how things are going, keep it that way. If it doesn’t work for your family, chalk it up as a fun experiment and keep those laces tied.
Shoes On or Shoes Off? This is such a controversial topic and totally a personal preference. I wrote this post for those like me who want to implement this policy, not to persuade others to live this way. That being said, I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments. Do you allow shoes in the house? Why or why not? Have you tried this before? And if so, what methods worked for you?
My blog is all about people empowering other people to be the best humans they’ve always dreamt of, so please avoid negativity or judgement in the comments. We all do things differently, and that’s what makes us all superheroes!