Kerri Sackville never shies away from ensuring her readers know she’s Jewish.
Her columns are scattered with Jewish and Yiddish terminology like mishigas, schlep and mensch.
She has written extensively about being part of a minority – Australian, but a minority – and she has written about why people need to stop confusing “Jewish” with “Israeli”.
She went to a Jewish school and she’s now a proud Emanuel School mum with her youngest child currently in high school.
“I just feel like that is something I can do as a Jewish person in the media. There are so few of us, and I think it really helps if those of us who are there and visible are open and loud about our culture,” she said.
Sackville – who fondly remembers her very first column for this publication, which focused on Jew-dar, the fact that Jews can spot other Jews anywhere they go – is also proud of her domestic imperfection. Her latest book, in fact, is her magnum opus, about why no one cares about your messy bedroom and why perfection is just way too much trouble. Especially in the face of a global pandemic, bushfires, floods and a war.
At the beginning of lockdown last year, Sackville was sent a book, which she described as “a manual for how to clean your house perfectly”, including housework schedules and the products to use.
“I learned a lot from it, because I really didn’t know much about cleaning,” she laughed. “But I kept thinking why? Life is so hard. Do we really need to have a perfect house on top of everything else?”
So, she wrote the antidote – The Life-Changing Magic of a Little Bit of Mess.
Sackville explains that the common thread in all her writing has been the idea that you don’t need the perfect life, body or relationship and you don’t need to be the perfect parent. Scattered through the book are retorts to all the #HomeInspo, #SparkingJoy and #LessIsMore hashtags we so commonly see on social media.
Sackville said it was a no-brainer to poke fun at the constant barrage of Instagram-worthy images by the huge cleaning and decluttering industry, and their influencers.
If you’re struggling constantly for perfection, you’re never going to get anything done.
“I love writing humour. And I really thought that now, more than ever, we just need something to laugh at. The news cycle is so grim. Everything in life is really tough. I just want to give people a bit of a laugh,” she said, admitting that she laughed a lot while writing it. She disclosed that even her teenage kids managed to laugh when Sackville read some of the lines out loud and as every parent would know, that’s a huge win.
And when it comes to the kids and your house, Sackville believes in the need to relax.
“I remember, after my first child was born, I used to clean all the toys away at the end of the day. And it’s almost like you want to pretend you’re living in a house without a child,” she said. “By the time you have two and certainly by the time you have three, not only is it impossible to clean but that’s the real spirit breaker.”
Saying that she started to question the need to appear perfect, and why the need to be pristine is so important, Sackville said that she strongly believes that no one actually cares about your mess.
“Anyone who judges you on that is really just going to judge something,” she said. “It’s much more relaxing going into somebody’s house when they’re relaxed, than somebody’s house where it’s super tidy and you’re scared about leaving your coffee cup on the table. People care about whether you’re happy to see them at the door, whether you have chocolate biscuits in the pantry, whether you offer them a glass of wine. They honestly do not care about the toys on the floor.”
Speaking of kids, Sackville, whose daughter Saachi illustrated the book, explained that she can write almost anywhere, having started her writing career with two young kids. The Life-Changing Magic of a Little Bit of Mess, for example, was written from her kitchen table during lockdown with her three children in the house. Sackville said she was even writing with her daughter’s Hebrew teacher in the background telling the kids to take themselves off mute, proving that while it can be tricky to work with distractions, it can be done.
“You don’t have to have ideal writing conditions to write, because if you wait for that, you’ll never do anything,” she said.
Again, it comes down to the theme of the book, as Sackville said, “It’s that whole idea of imperfection. If you’re struggling constantly for perfection, you’re never going to get anything done. You have to be able to say, this is good enough … It’s ok to have an imperfect life and imperfect everything. We don’t have to be perfect to be ok, to be happy, to be accepted, to be loved.”
And on top of that, Sackville said, she just wants to make people laugh.
“There is nothing better than seeing people read the book or seeing the messages and hearing that you’ve made them laugh and just given them a break from the grimness. I wanted something to elevate people, give them give him a few hours off. And a bit of levity in a really difficult time.”
#LifeInspo, if you ask me.
The Life-Changing Magic of a Little Bit of Mess is published by Harper Collins, $24.99 rrp.