In our current country of residence, everyone takes off their shoes before entering a home. Everyone. This is the case in most countries, in fact, and in the case of Kosovo, where my husband and I lived several years ago.
I’m pretty sure the only country that doesn’t practice this is the United States. And maybe Canada.
When you take off your shoes, you’re keeping the outdoors that have crept onto your soles relegated to the front door. You’re coming in to relax. You’re telling guests to make themselves at home.
And most practically, you’re keeping your floors cleaner.
When my husband and I moved back to the States after living in Kosovo, the whole taking-off-your-shoes-at-the-front-door had become so habitual, we kept at it. It really does make cleaning easier, and let’s face it – it makes a lot of sense. Fly Lady would not approve, but that’s okay with me, because I do things rather differently than her anyway.
(I should note that I do have a particular pair of shoes – those ugly Crocs – for wearing exclusively in the house sometimes. This helps me when my feet are hurting.)
We’re reminded how un-American this idea is when we have guests coming from the States – they’re always forgetting to take off their shoes. We don’t really mind, and of course we’re not offended, but many of our neighbors here just don’t understand this American mentality. “How do Americans keep their house clean then?” my neighbor asked one time, after confirming with me a rumor she’d heard that Americans wear their shoes indoors.
I highly recommend getting your family in the habit of taking off their shoes upon entering. Make a convenient spot near the front door, or just outside it, for people to place their shoes.
I’m sure we’ll do this the rest of our lives, regardless in which country we live. It works for me.