whole new way
A Whole New Way…
I’ve been trying for a few years now to extoll the virtues of micro living on this blog. I’ve given advice, posted inspiration pictures, made little lists that I thought were helpful, tried to keep the topics varied and interesting… I realized something recently though when I was thinking about the spring cleaning we’ve started early in our home. No matter what bits and pieces of advice I give, if you don’t think about WHY you’re doing all this, you’re setting yourself up for a fail. Not why as in, “I moved a lot as a kid and I have to collect everything/get rid of everything now to make me feel better.” Those are important things to know about yourself, but I should look at NOW more. Why am I making the decisions I am making now and how can I better reach my goals? This is a really important question to ask yourself, whether it’s about your home, your job, your family life, whatever. It’s also helpful to ask yourself what your values are, what is the most important thing to you, what do you actually spend your time doing. These are fantastic questions no matter your concern, but I think they are really helpful when you think of organizing your home.
First things first… when I say “home” what do I mean by that? Why is that so important to me? Why do I value having a home instead of just a house? What do I want my home to be to the people (and animals) who live in it? I really value having a “home” and not just a place to live. I think home is a feeling and an emotion as much as a space. When I think of a home, I think of ideas like “welcoming,” “relaxing,” “a place you WANT to be, not just where you have to be.” I really want my home to be that for my little family. I don’t want my husband walking in the door and thinking, “Ugh, where’s the nearest happy hour?” I want him to feel at home (yeah, pun totally intended!) here and really want to hang out here. I want my home to be a haven from all the stuff that’s outside of it. Not that you have to hole up like a hermit and never leave. The beauty of a home is when you take a break from all the errands and work and having fun with your friends or going out to dinner/movies/the park and you have a place to be in where you just say “aaaaah…”
When I stopped “working” (working outside of my house) a few years ago, I was just doing the motions of housekeeping without knowing why. I would wash the dishes without thinking about the bigger picture. That’s why it was so easy for me to skip washing dishes for a night or two. Or stop making meals. Or stop having things organized. I just didn’t have any idea why I was doing those things, so I didn’t put any importance on them. When I actually thought about what I wanted my home to be and started putting that puzzle together, I realized more thoroughly why I was doing the things I was doing and I really wanted to improve on that. I wanted the term housewife to be not only a term of endearment, not only a job description, not only a catch-all word for what I did day to day… I wanted it to be a full time vocation.
Even if you don’t “work from home” like I do, it still helps to think about your life outside of your job and what you want it to look and feel like. Maybe you have a few kids and feel like you just can’t hold it all together mentally, let alone make your home a place that says welcome. That’s ok! Life gets busy and hectic sometimes, but spending a few moments here and there thinking about what you want your home life to be like, and maybe journaling or blogging about it, can help give you a little bit more focus and clarity.
What’s the point of this polemic, you might ask. The point is that no matter how many good tips I spew out into the blogoverse, if I never explain the why of everything and the reasons I do what I do, then there’s kind of no point to it all. All the lists and trips to Salvation Army with all the things I’ve purged from the house and meal plans and schedules and whatever will all be for naught if I don’t tie them all together in my head. If my reasons for making a home are disorganized, then my home is going to be disorganized.
Here are some questions I’ve been thinking about since I’ve changed my idea for this space from a house to a home. Let me know what questions are helping you! And what answers you’ve figured out…
1) What does “home” mean to me? List adjectives that describe how you feel about home. Maybe make an image board or write down on a piece of paper your ideas.
2) What do I value in my life? If you value your home, put some work into it. If you value your family, make space for them in your life and in your home. If you value your friends, design your home around entertaining. If you really look at what you value in life, you start to see what you want your life to look like. A particularly helpful way to answer this question? Make a list of five things you feel that you value. Make a list of five things you spend most of your time on. Do those lists match up? What can you do to make those lists come together?
3) Who is your home for? How can you make it special for them? My home is for me, my husband, my dog and my fish. I am always thinking of ways to make my little world more comfortable and useful to these family members that I am responsible for. My husband is in charge of our crazy saltwater aquarium, so he gets the responsibility of caring for it. That doesn’t mean that I can’t do my best to have the area around it clean, keep the glass clean, organize some of the supplies for it and feed my fish. My dog is one of my favorite “people” in the world. How can I make her life more fun and easy? I try to keep all of her outside supplies by the door. There’s a home for her poop bags, her leash and big outdoor boots for me right by the door. I also have a hoodie by the door in case it’s a little chilly outside. I keep all of her bedding washed and tidy to make it more comfortable for her and less smelly for the rest of us. I have all of her bath supplies on one shelf in the bathroom, so it’s easy to keep her clean. All of her food and treats are neatly stored in a cabinet in our kitchen. Her toys are in a nice little bin that is easily accessible. Why do I do all that for a dog? Because when her things are neat and tidy, I can get on with the business of playing with her and taking care of her much more easily. For real people in my house, I could go on for pages about making their lives easier and more comfortable. Here are just a few things I do for my husband… I keep snacks and treats on the same shelf in the same place all the time in our kitchen. He can grab something healthy (or not so healthy!) without having to look around for it. All of his favorite drinks are easy to grab in the fridge and the glasses are nearby. His side of the closet is organized and (most of) his clothes are put away so he doesn’t have to worry about being unprepared in the morning for work. His jackets and shoes have a home and I make space for him in all of our storage areas and closets. I let him take care of the entertainment part of our house, but I make the room and space for him. He has giant stereo speakers and a big screen tv. If I took up all that space with my junk, he wouldn’t feel like this was his home at all. And if there was a bunch of random things, like socks, or dog toys or dishes mixed up with his climbing equipment or in his garage, how welcome and easy do you think our home is for him? I have a LOT of work to do to remind myself of these priorities, but the more I remind myself of them, the harder I work on them.
4) What would make your house a home for YOU? Anyone can live in a house or apartment or cabin for years and just do the bare minimum to get by. Anyone can make their house livable for their partner, their kids, their pets. But think for a moment about what would make your house a home just for you? Do you need room on the fridge for a few pictures that remind you of who and what you love? Do you need a shelf for your favorite books and keepsakes? Do you need your clothing/shoes/makeup organized to make your life easier when you wake up in the morning? Think of yourself the same way you would think of the other members of your family. For busy moms and working wives and moms it is all too easy to forget about your place in your home. I know so many women who give their all to their families and jobs and then forget to welcome themselves into their homes. Make little places in your house special for you! I love my makeup so I have a nice, tidy place for all of it where it’s clean and organized. It makes that tiny part of my day a lot nicer. I have some of my favorite pictures in the house framed and mounted on the wall to remind me of the people and places I love. I have little mementos from my travels that I keep as treasures on my bookshelf. I couldn’t find them and treasure them if I had a bunch of garbage and clutter clouding my view. I really, really, really love magazines. I make sure to get rid of last month’s issues at the end of every month so that I have current issues ready at hand to read whenever I want. And I’ve made special little places in my house that keep all of my magazines easy to find and easily accessible. Think about the things you really treasure and make space for them.
5) What is the current atmosphere of my home and what do I want it to be? Did you ever go to someone’s house (or your own!) and just feel bad vibes coming from it? Or stressful vibes? Or uncomfortable vibes? Or disorganized vibes? Ok, I know I sound like a hippie with all this talk of vibes… but what your home feels like is a good reflection of what you feel inside. If I have dirty dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor, boxes stacked up to the ceiling and messy bathrooms, what message am I giving to my family and my guests? Maybe that I don’t value their comfort? That I don’t value my own comfort? Take 15 minutes out of your day and do something little to change or maintain the good atmosphere of your home. I like to have nice smelling incense or candles, a fire going in the fireplace in the winter (ok, all I have to do is flip a switch, but it’s still cozy!), some fresh delicious fruit in my fruit bowl and a comfy couch with folded throws and fluffed pillows on it. How long does that take me? About five minutes. But it makes a big difference in the atmosphere in my home.
I know this has been a long post, but this is what I’ve been trying to convey on this blog for awhile. Maybe “micro” living is not your style. Maybe purging everything from your bookshelf is not your style. Maybe making giant lists and chore charts is not your style. But it’s important to think clearly about what you value and put your time, love and energy into that. My motto is normally “do what you love!” but I think I should change that this time to “love what you value!”
Tell me your thoughts, opinions, feelings on this subject and let me know what you really love!