I had this idea a few months ago to write about the importance of creating a calming atmosphere in one’s home. At the time, we were living in a dark apartment building in the middle of four busy cross streets, and I had spent the last seven years and two kids later making it as “home-y” as possible.
The cinder block walls were an institutional white before we painted over in warm tones, added an area rug and some ambient lighting. We were happy, content, and determined to make the best of it until God moved us on.
Then one morning in May, I got a text from a dear friend who was moving out of a three bedroom cottage in the exact neighborhood we had been praying for! Within a month, we were packed and moved into the little family home of our dreams, complete with grassy yard and front porch. Such an incredible blessing.
This weekend was a special milestone event. We threw a housewarming party, and let me tell you, nothing makes me want to fluff my nest more than having people come over to see it!
As much as I wanted to match the Martha Stewart picture in my head, not everything went as planned; the yard service did not show up the day before the party when I expected them, and the grass was too long and unkempt for my taste. (Of course my father in law pointed out that we needed to invest in a mower).
Uuuggghhh… and don’t get me started on the bomb that went off in my kid’s room. But was I going to unleash the Mommy wrath on them for the sake of a one day party? Nope. Not worth it. People would just have to see that we’re a real family. Sigh.
The joy of having people come and relax in our home, enjoying great food together, and telling of the goodness of God in his perfect timing of our move far outweighed the complications and unfinished business. I love to fluff my nest, not just for the visitors, but our everyday life. I believe we should care about the physical as well as the emotional space that sets the tone for family living.
The moment I got the keys to our new home, my mind raced through every room, imagining the possibilities. This house is much more open, with higher ceiling, single panel walls instead of cinder block, a large open kitchen, extra room for husband’s office, and a yard for kids to run around.
We were not about to buy everything new, so the pieces that were given to us (or found roadside), I decided to makeover (see my DIY Home Care page!) To keep things light in each room, I chose (or painted) pieces in light colors.
My number one goal for this space: do not keep unnecessary things. Every piece of furniture I choose to keep is intentionally placed for the maximum comfort of the family.
The three things I value most in a home – beauty, utility and comfort. This means no clutter or keeping stuff just because we had it at the old place, or even just because it was given to us. We gave away or trashed about a third of our things that did not serve a significant purpose before we left, and then some more after we settled in.
Keeping the physical space of our home open, clutter free, and light, I have found, directly affected the emotional atmosphere of our home.
After some arguments during the first few years of marriage, I found that my husband feels a lot less stressed when he comes home from work and walks into a clean space. I actually feel the same way, too, but it took a while for me to consider him in my cleaning schedule, because honestly, I struggled at the beginning to keep a tidy home.
My other interests always seems to take priority. Then when we started having babies, I was exhausted. The laundry simply didn’t matter to me, and I even told him that. “I. Don’t. Care about clothes piling up. It will get done, chill out.”
He finally spoke up, told me directly, “I have to live in this house, too Jenn. This mess affects me, you’re not the only one living here.” I couldn’t really pull the Mom card, because we were both still working full time. He worked from home and would have the kids until I got home from teaching. He experimented with getting things done AND taking care of the kids. He knew what it meant to be a Dad and take care of the house.
So we had to begin a new practice of home care. Some of them may sound like common sense, but two people coming from two different upbringings had to reinforce these concepts and make them routine.
Small Ways to Prep Your Home
Here are some routines we found that help to set the stage for comfort and relaxation in our home:
Pick up after yourself. This does not always go without saying! Little messes build up over time and affect hoe others live in that space.
Make the beds each morning. It’s a nice fresh welcome to come home to a made bed. Set the pillows up straight, and on the couches, too.
Keep stuff off the floor. Throw rugs & mats notwithstanding. Vacuum or sweep a few times a week.
Keep flat spaces clear. Countertops, tables when not in use, these can quickly become catch-all places and it’s annoying to clear it when comes time to use it.
“A place for everything and everything in its place!” My Army-retired Grandpa used to say this to me all the time. When you have a place to put everything, the easier it is to maintain a system of tidiness. When it doesn’t have a place, or you can’t easily designate one, you might need to say “bye bye.”
Catch-All-Box. Miscellaneous items do build up sometimes, so designate a space for them (or for each person’s stuff) and place that box in their room as a gentle reminder to put it away.
What in the World Does this Look Like With Young Kids?!?
Try to function with less. Young kids do not need tons of toys, mine were happy with a cardboard box most of the time (for real). Every few months, the kids and I go through their toys and books and give away half of them. They grow out of things so fast.
Do what you can and save time for later. After mealtime, wipe up the mess, and at least place dishes in the sink and clothes in the laundry right away. There are always open pockets of time to finish dishes, dry/ fold laundry when they’re asleep or relaxing next to you.
Beware the danger of taking on too much. Focus on the kids. Looking back now, I wish I would have taken my full leave from work, to establish routines that our family could count on. So many times I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants and it just wasn’t necessary to try to juggle all of those things.
What are some things you can do to fluff your nest and lighten the emotional atmosphere of your space? Paying attention to these practical things may be a turning point in your family life. Take some time to scan your rooms today and make the changes that you need.