How Drew Barrymore Keeps Household Chaos—and Her Toxic Inner Voice—Under Control

Easy-to-remember systems and consistent routines keep stress and self-doubt at bay for this health-and-happiness guru. Here are the top tips she swears by.

Drew Barrymore sitting on couch holding black cat


As a busy mom of two, talk show host, entrepreneur, and pet owner (four cats, one dog, and a bearded dragon!) living a hectic Manhattan life, Drew Barrymore struggles with the same household challenges and stressors as the rest of us. “When I find myself running around, asking, ‘Where is this? Where is that?’ it doesn't motivate me, and it makes me feel like a loser," she tells Real Simple.

And for Barrymore her toxic inner voice is real. She jokes that she’d never talk to another person the way her inner voice speaks to her. That negative inner critic makes her feel that if things are getting out of control at home or in life, she must be an out of control person. “If I don't know where my kids' things are in the morning, it makes me feel like such a Mom Fail.”

Her trick to keeping the household running smoothly and that voice quiet? Systems. "If I have systems, I feel better about myself,” she says. Here are a few simple systems she uses to stay organized and feel more on top of things.

Drew's Go-To Tips for Managing a Busy Household

Put everything back in the same place, right away.

A main cleaning and tidying habit she swears by is putting her stuff back in the same place every time so she can find it more easily. “I do this with my kids' shoes. When I couldn't find them I felt like such a failure as a mom; the bus was honking and I [was] freaking out," Barrymore shares. "Just putting things back in the same place in the same way has made a huge difference.”

Set up your home to make regular cleanup easy and convenient.

Barrymore, who recently partnered with Purina’s Tidy Cats (“Purina was the first company I worked for when I was 11 months old and did my first commercial—so I am home,” she shares) also offers this practical tip for maintaining the dreaded litter box: “I have garbage bags lined up nearby, and I'll put them around the mouth of my litter box and dump it, then do the wipes and clean it out. It’s always in the same place and there’s a system to it. These systems lessen my toxic inner voice.”

Delegate and enlist the whole family.

Part of her strategy is getting her two kids, Olive (10) and Frankie (9), involved in keeping the household running smoothly. “I was waiting for them to become responsible little people and then I was like, wait, OK, they're old enough now.”

Barrymore also had to shed the relatable parental desire to take over. “I’ve realized the worst thing I’ve said as a parent is ‘It's quicker if I do it.’ Yes, it will take twice as long for them and be done half as well—but if they do it, then they're into it.” Now her daughter Olive is really into cleaning (“She does laundry and windows”) while Frankie is a “Marie Kondo–level organizer.”

Embrace micro self-care moments.

When it comes to self-care, Barrymore is brutally honest: She doesn't really do it. “If you're a parent or you're working, you come dead last a lot,” she says. For example, looking forward to a summer off and thinking about exercising, she says, “then that's usually pretty much a catapult for my toxic inner voice because I won't be consistent about it." The solution? Think small and do what you can.

"Maybe sometimes we should just say it’s OK not to do self-care for a while, because [then we're not] setting ourselves up for failure," she says, adding that “maybe micro self-care moments are more doable. Like, I’m really excited about my new Waterpik for my teeth. And I never fail at washing my face twice a day. Oh, and my new mini vac. Those are my wins."

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