At the beginning of this year I really set out to try and reclaim some of the sanity in my life. Honestly, like most mothers can attest to, life with two working parents and two small children can be so darn chaotic and just down right exhausting and it’s hard to thrive when you’re just surviving. Now, I don’t want to make it sound so grim, the last 7 years of marriage and two kids and career successes have been amazing, but also exhausting. I feel like I’ve conquered and controlled my way through most of life to “success” in lot of areas, but one of the things that has been kind of out of control was our home. The thought of trying to organize our home let alone make it beautiful and well decorated, plus do the laundry and cook good meals and blah blah blah was just overwhelming so I just let it go. I firmly believe that life has seasons and in that season, it probably was necessary to let the house go. Luckily this year we’ve had a bit more calm. I started working on beautifying our home and feel like I can breathe more freely now. I’m not having to spend days to get the house ready for guests, and I actually enjoy spending time in rooms that I used to avoid. I’m not going to claim that my house looks like a magazine or that it doesn’t need a really good deep clean pretty much always, but I feel a sense of peace and that is what it’s all about. Here’s the steps I took, I hope they might help you.
Take a vacation. I realize this might not be feasible but if you can – go! We took one week for ourselves (after about 2 years without a real vacation) and did a low key vacation without kids and this is really what jumpstarted me having the brain space and the energy to even consider making changes to our home. Maybe you just need a kid free day or a weekend with your spouse to create breathing room for new thoughts and ideas to happen. Whatever it is that you need, your energy level upon return with reward you tenfold, so don’t feel guilty and don’t make excuses.
Attack pain points first. What’s the thing that most annoys you and is taking away your peace of mind in your home? I had several. One was our bedroom. We had waited to do anything with it because guests don’t see it. Its hard to rest peacefully when your bedroom is a complete pit all the time. Our “toy room” was the next sore spot. I hated that our toys could never be put away nicely nor easily and I wanted the room to look good when guests came over. We don’t have a basement so the toy room is part of our dining area and is the first room you see in the home. Finally, our tiny foyer was always a mess with the kids shoes in exposed baskets and keys and bags and mail covering what was supposed to be a pretty entry way. I felt irritated as soon as I walked in the house. I addressed each of these spaces first and seeing the continual progress has kept me going when I started to feel overwhelmed.
Go with the flow. Think of the natural flow of your daily life and what is the most simple and easiest solution to keep things organized. For me, getting the kids out the door in the morning is one of the most stressful parts of my day so keeping their shoes and jackets by the door makes sense, but it wasn’t pretty or tidy where I had it and our foyer closet situation was a mess too. So I decided on nice looking cubbies for shoes and an organizer in our foyer closet for all the gloves, etc. Now the girls can get their shoes on their own and they don’t mind putting them away either. I have discovered that just because something is pretty doesn’t mean it’s functional. Literally walk through your days and how you use your house see if it actually makes sense functionally. Everyone will always take the path of least resistant! Also listen to ideas from others, but do what works best for you. I know there’s a lot of moms out there telling us different ideas (umm, right here!) but its not all gospel truth – its what works for them. I’ve heard lots of mom’s talk about rotating toys, but it just hasn’t seemed to work in our home so that’s why I bought shelves to organize them all. If one area of the house is always a pit and can’t ever seem to be ordered easily its probably because the system is faulty and needs to be simpler – especially when you’re relying on kids to help keep it going.
Shop smart. Shop your house, shop for bargains, keep receipts and carefully consider true quality pieces. The goal is to not overwhelm yourself but to quickly take care of those pain points. I had to keep feeling progress and seeing progress or I’d get frustrated so just some small adjustments helped right away. I moved some furniture around right away and that made a huge impact on the feel of our home. I took down dusty frames and put new pictures in them. I found some decor at my office storage I hadn’t used and I’ve even pulled out some pretty china I never use and used it for vases etc. I might keep it all or I might switch it out when I find that perfect piece but for now, I at lease enjoy seeing it used! Look on Pinterest for ideas you hadn’t thought of with the things you already own. I’ve also returned my fare share of items, sometimes you just have to buy a few things and then try them in your home to know for sure.
Enlist help. If decorating isn’t your thing ask a friend to help. I like decorating, but I am constantly asking my friend for ideas or sending pics her way for her thoughts, and I had her come style my bookshelves for me when I just couldn’t get it right.
Stop comparing. Social media makes it hard to not compare but it really is the thief of happiness. I struggle with this, so I’m preaching to myself. Seriously take a moment to realize everyone’s priorities, financial situations, season of life are all different – embrace yours. Embrace the priorities and goals you set for yourself. The important thing is that you feel good and at peace in your home and for me personally that means organization and functionality as well as frugality. I may love some idea but if it would stress me out financially to obtain it or would hinder some of our other big goals then its not really the best idea either. Framing my thoughts in that context makes me at peace with the parts of my home that aren’t and might not ever be “perfect.” While all this has been happening over the last several months, I’ve been working on surrendering everything to God and that is not easy for this perfectionist, so I would urge you to do the same. Put something that seems frivolous like the decor of your home in his hands and let him find the means and the way to put it in order and give you true peace.
Ultimately, a beautiful home is nice, but it’s more about the peace of mind its brought me to be able to pick up the house easily because its also functional. I can walk out the door in the morning and not feel the urge to turn right back around to clean the place. This doesn’t mean its perfect and while worrying too much about your home can distract you from what really matters, it can certainly help facilitate a more joyful life. I have more brain space and peace to enjoy moments at home and more time to do activities because I’m not constantly picking up. It has also created a little nook for me to start praying regularly and that is what this journey we call life is all about!