*Get caught up on the previous installments of the Peace-Filled Home series here*
Up until now, we’ve been primarily talking about matters of the heart. We’ve taken a look at our peace-personalities and discussed how we can get to the place where we are willing to change. So now it’s time for some practical tips, don’t you think?
And right out of the gate, let’s establish something very important. If the heart issues are the foundation that needs to be poured in order to build a peace-filled home then accepting your home as it is right now is the first floor.
In her book ‘Love the Home You Have’, author and blogger Melissa Michaels says,
“The most important thing i’ve learned from all my dreaming, scheming, and hauling moving boxes is that we can learn to love the home we have whether it is big or small, fancy or ordinary, surrounded by white pickets or brown chain link, faced with brick or faux siding, a first apartment or a starter home in a less-than-ideal neighborhood. Home is right where you are.”
Building a peace-filled home should never be a ‘someday’ goal. No matter where you lay your head at night, you can begin right now to create an environment of peace. And today I’m going to highlight some of the practical ways I approach doing this in my own home.
Now, I don’t know about you, but one of the things I love about my closest friends is that while they have a lot of similar character traits, they each bring something different to our relationship. And I believe that the same is true when it comes to infusing your home with more peace.
So, I want to introduce you to your new #besties. Meet Ms. Routine and Ms. Flexibility. Each of them have their own individual areas of strength and when brought together they create the perfect balance in your life and in your home.
When my children were babies, I took a lot of flack for having them fairly scheduled. They (GASP!) slept in their cribs/beds, had a regular bedtime and a pretty consistent routine beforehand involving a bath, a story, a song and then off to sleepy-town. They were (and are!) rock star sleepers. And I cannot tell you how many times people told me that I was in danger of having my kids be impossible to travel with. But, you know what? The exact OPPOSITE happened. The routine we had established easily translated when we were in new environments and actually helped us to get them to settle down more quickly. They knew what to expect and, for the most part, adapted beautifully.
Did we sometimes put them to bed later? Of course! Did we make exceptions for things and adjust the schedule here and there? Absolutely! But, the foundation of their routine provided them with a sense of predictability and peace even in the midst of having to be more flexible.
I believe that the same is true of our homes. When we have a foundation built on routine and consistency, we are able to better handle the times when our lives get crazy. In fact, if we have established routine, when life calls for flexibility, it doesn’t throw us off nearly as much. Look at it this way, if you have a foundation to a home that is already poorly constructed, when you add the stress of another layer to it you run the risk of the entire thing crumbling. But if a foundation is solidly built, it can handle minor shifting and changing without being at risk of the home falling apart.
Let’s remember that we can only control what we can control. Sports schedules, homework assignments, illness, job loss, these are all things that come into our lives and we (mostly) have very little control over.
So, let’s talk about the things we CAN control, shall we?
1. Decide which areas of your home are the most important to you.
I come into my house through our garage door which leads into the laundry room, down a hallway and the first rooms I see are my family room, breakfast room and kitchen. When I leave my house, I always try to make sure that these areas are fairly well picked up because I know they are the first ones I’m going to see when I come back home. And usually when I come back home it’s with arm-loads of groceries or with kids so anything I can do to make it feel more calm is extremely helpful. This means that I usually straighten the pillows on my couch, clear the kitchen table and also clear my countertops even if its just that I’ve moved the dirty dishes into the sink where I will take care of them later. All of this can be done in a couple of minutes but it makes such a difference to my state of mind when I get home!
2. Recognize clutter for what it really is.
On the one hand, the above quote is true. But, on the other hand, what may seem like a postponed decision is an actual decision! You have chosen clutter. And I believe that when our homes are cluttered our hearts feel cluttered. If you discovered that you are a peace-breaker, you will understand this perfectly. Peace requires space, both in our homes and in our hearts. We have to make room for it by clearing out the extra ‘stuff’. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is always going to be some amount of clutter in our homes. There are permission slips to be signed and bills to be paid and dishes to clean. But when we have an inherently organized foundation, the little bits of clutter here and there don’t seem nearly as overwhelming. And this leads me to my next point.
3. Learn the difference between tidy and clean.
I am telling you straight up right now that there are parts of my home that I can’t remember when the last time was that I deep cleaned them. Bad, right? But, here’s the thing. Anyone walking into my home wouldn’t know that. Because my home is tidy. It pretty much always looks ‘clean’ even if it’s been awhile since I really mopped the floor. The definition of the word tidy is “arranged neatly and in order”. Notice it doesn’t say ‘clean’. Do I get in there and really clean my home? Of course. But I don’t have a regular cleaning schedule or some magic formula for a clean home. I spend far more energy keeping things tidy and avoiding the threat of clutter building up. And the beauty of doing this is that I never hesitate having someone into my home at the last minute. I know that, at minimum, the bathroom they would use is always clean (actually CLEAN!) and that they won’t be tripping over things on their way to use it. 😉
4. Give your eyes a break.
As I said earlier, there will always be some element of clutter in our home. That’s just one of the realities of life. But I believe that it is so important to give your eyes a break. Create little spaces around your home that offer you a visual exhale. Pick at least a couple of surfaces that you keep fairly neat and tidy or decorated in a way that pleases you so that they offer you a reprieve when everything around it is messy or cluttered.
5. Decide what to let go of.
Recently I was watching an episode of House Hunters International (is it just me or are the house hunting shows completely taking over?!) which took place in France. The couple talked about how they loved to walk down to their local market and pick up what they needed for their dinner that day. And that’s when I decided something very important. I’m French. No, it’s not technically my heritage but I don’t care. You see, I used to stress out over meal planning and feel that I was failing because I didn’t do freezer meals and shop for every last ingredient for an entire week all in one trip to the store. I don’t do a lot of crock-pot meals either. But, I’ve made peace with this. I’ve let it go. I’m not saying that I just love going to the store 2-3 times a week, but I’ve embraced the truth that something has to give. And for me, it’s extensive meal planning. I always keep basics on hand (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) and then add in a few things here and there as necessary.
The other thing I’ve let go of is my kids’ rooms. Now, this isn’t to say that I just let them become complete disaster areas. But, I realized long ago that they need the freedom to play and have fun in their spaces without constantly having to pick up. So, while my daughter’s room received a lovely makeover this year, her little vintage vanity table always looks like this.
And, as a recovering peace-faker, I’m completely ok with it!
6. Decide what to fight for.
As soon as we moved into a home with a center island in the kitchen I realized that it could quite easily become the ultimate dumping ground. But, I fight for it not to be. Because, for one thing, it’s usually one of the first rooms I walk into when I get home (see #1). It also houses our cooktop and it’s essential for me to have the space around it cleared off when I’m preparing meals. Now, let me be clear, my kids often eat meals here, homework is regularly done here and I always love when someone pulls up a stool and visits with me while I cook. But, I do everything I can to keep this surface in my home cleared of stuff. That’s one of the things I’ve decided to fight for and for you it might be something entirely different. But I encourage you to pick a couple of areas around your home that you are going to fight for at the same time you pick the areas you are willing to be more lenient about. You know, it’s that whole routine meets flexibility thing again.
Finally, my friends, remember that…
7. A peace-filled home is a choice.
Ultimately, you have to choose to create a more peace-filled home. My husband and I lead a ‘Welcome Reception’ each month at our church where we connect with folks who are new and share with them ways to connect. But, while we can tell them about every single group and event we have at the church, it’s up to them to decide to take the next step. And the same is true of anything in life. Tools don’t build a house by themselves. They have to be put to use by the builder.
If you desire to build a peace-filled home, I hope that I’ve given you some of the tools you will need to get started.
But, you will actually need to get started!
Now, I know this was a long one today but I would love to hear from you and your thoughts about anything I’ve said in the series. And I want to leave you with some questions to consider:
- What does a peace-filled home mean to you?
- Do you think others would say that your home is peace-filled?
- Would you consider yourself a peace-breaker, peace-faker or a peace-maker?
- What steps can you take to bring peace into your home?
Thank you so much for meeting me at the Fence today,