How does your home make you feel?
Do you feel all warm and cozy when you walk in, after a long day at work or maybe after you’ve been away for a trip? Does it welcome you in, making you feel glad to be there?
Or what about when you’ve been to someone else’s home? Maybe they had you over for dinner or to show off their latest home improvement. Maybe it’s just a friend who wants to show you her latest redecorating project.
How does your home make you feel when you get back?
Do you look around and think your friend’s house is nice, but you’re perfectly happy with yours? I hope so. (And maybe you can share some decorating advice, because I’m not so great at that.)
Or do you walk in and see the stuff that didn’t get put away? Does walking into your home make you feel tired?
What About Your Family?
When our son was about twenty years old, he moved out, back to Michigan to be with his girlfriend. They broke up soon after and he found himself renting someone’s basement. When he lost his job because the business went under, he found himself stopping by gas stations just as they were about to close. It turned out they were willing to give him whatever cooked food they had left; otherwise it would get thrown away.
He came home for Christmas, and it broke my heart to find out he was living that way. All he asked for that year for Christmas were some socks.
Can you imagine how it felt for him to come home to our house that Christmas, to walk in and see how warm and beautiful it was? To see the food on the table? To realize that he could use real milk again?
It must have felt so much like home. Cozy, welcoming, a sense that he could relax.
I’m sure your family situation is nowhere near that, but just the same, don’t you want your family to feel that same sense of warmth and safety when they come in?
I bet you do. I bet you want it for yourself.
How Do We Get There?
I don’t think that we have to be as talented as so many women are online when it comes to decorating. But if we want to, we have the opportunity to learn from them.
The first thing, though, is that our homes need to be clean. Even if it’s just the “public” rooms you work on, it’s nice to walk into a clean, fresh home. (Side note: Mrs. Meyers has her new fragrances out. I’m not sure if they’re summer or spring, but they’re flower scents and the lilac is heaven! You can find them at Target, Walmart, and Meijer,)
And really, that’s not so hard to do. Pick up the clutter in the living room; family room too if you have one. Clean the kitchen counters (Mrs. Meyers!) and the sink, swipe down the bathroom, and you’re done!
That’s kind of the basis of my daily routine, and really, it only takes minutes, especially when you get in the habit of doing it every day.. And then you know, of course, that the dog fairy comes to my house daily (or nightly) so I also have to sweep or vacuum every day too.
Let’s Talk Scenarios
The view you have when you come into the house depends on which door you use. Until we bought a pickup truck that barely fits our garage, I used to come in that door and be faced with the kitchen.
If any of my children happen to be home and make one simple thing to eat – a sandwich maybe – the entire kitchen will be trashed. Someone please explain to me why you need four knives to make one sandwich?
Now I don’t let that get me down too much, because either a) they’re going to clean up that mess, or b) I know that cleaning up the entire kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner takes me 20 minutes, so whatever I’m faced with won’t take long at all. Either way, no big deal.
But what if you come in the front door? How does your home make you feel then? (I confess, mine isn’t too cluttered, but some nice decor would make it homier.)
Your home probably has some clutter – just about everyone’s does. We’re living there. But how much clutter?
Laundry baskets from two days ago? A week’s worth of newspapers scattered everywhere? A sort of small pile of piles around where your husband sits? That might not feel so good.
Taking care of it would make your home feel better.
What Can You Do?
I’m going to get more into this soon – it’s on my calendar – but you need some rules and some systems.
First, let’s get real. The homes you see online – the gorgeous, decorated ones – aren’t really real. They get messy too; they just don’t show you that. And if they do – in the name of IRL – I think it still must be staged half the time. It still looks too neat, like they’ve decoratively scattered a few things around to make it look messy.
Whatever. Let’s talk about us.
I collect notebooks and planners and journals and pens. My newest obsession is fountain pens, so bottles of ink now too. I’ve been doing this since I was in elementary school. I’m not going to change.
And neither is your husband, whose favorite chair is surrounded by sports magazines or books or – in the case of my husband – sheet music and instruments. God bless him. You’re not going to change him. Find some nice, attractive, decorative baskets or containers to corral all of his stuff and live with it. As my husband likes to remind me: one day you’ll miss it.
And to be fair – maybe it’s your stuff (like me) instead of his.
As for rules, here’s the short version: put it away. Maybe give everyone a deadline – 30 minutes before you get home, the living room should be picked up. And as I say so often, make sure everything has a home or a basket for it to go to.
Change isn’t going to happen overnight. Don’t expect to come home every day – or maybe even one day at first – and find the living room picked up and pretty.
Post signs. Send them text reminders. Try not to get angry or bitch and moan. You can simply state that your expectations were not met and you are disappointed. Or you can take whatever was left out and do with it what you please.
Sometimes when the kids came in the front door and dropped their backpacks and coats right there, I would pick them up and throw them in the basement. They got tired of walking down there to get it and learned to put things away.
If they left something out too long (and I mean a few days) and it was valuable to them, it was taken hostage. They had to do an extra chore of some kind to get it back.
And when my (grown) brother-in-law moved in with us for a while after a house fire, I made him live by the same rules. He was known to be messy, and I can still remember him telling his mom, “Mom, Brenda throws your stuff away if you don’t pick it up and put it where it belongs!”. That makes me smile.
I realize you might not have this same kind of luck or be able to use these strategies with your husband or significant other. All I can say is: try baskets or containers, resign yourself to doing it yourself, or learn to live with it. Some battles might not be worth it. And at this stage, are they really going to change? Maybe you could relocate their favorite chair (and accompanying mess) somewhere else. The basement?
Spread a Little Beauty
Maybe we aren’t the best decorators (or maybe I’m just speaking for myself), but be sure to add a few things here and there that make you happy. Maybe something especially cheerful or beautiful that you see when you first come in the house.
You want to make your home feel good, so find something that makes you feel good that you can focus on every time you walk in. For me, I have a scented candle I light every evening. That makes my house feel homey to me.
And the rest will get done, little by little, as long as you keep up with it.