By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
Alright ladies, I will be the first to admit that my house doesn’t exude some whimsical, radiating glow that declares Chip and Joanna Gaines came in and did their magical work. Nor, does it emanate this fresh white farmhouse look that invites you through its broad barn doors, sweetly saying, "Come on into my table filled with crumbles and have a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie with a spot of tea," all the while, gazing out the magnificent windows that expand from floor to ceiling. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?
Well, while the farmhouse trend may not fit within the walls of my own home as it tends to embrace warmer hues, taking on a traditional look with wood paneling that dates it back to the 80s, it still says, "Come on in and sink into the well-loved coaches while you sip on some reheated coffee." Both homes have their own appeal. Both are inviting, with their own unique style. Both affirm that kids live there, with the scuffed-up walls (yes, look closely, we all have them) and sticky fingerprints that grace every surface. The bottom line is this…Both homes say, “Relax, you’re welcome here.”
The point is this: whether you have a traditional home, farmhouse, or Cape Cod-style humble abode, a home is what you make of it! Yes, even if you have kids running around that leave a tornado of toys in their wake. Friend, not only is it possible to have a peaceful and “happy” home, but you can create a space that fits the needs of every single family member, all while making it feel cozy, comfortable, and yes, even calming and stress-free. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Before we get to all that, let me clarify and start by saying I am not an interior decorator by any means, nor am I some professional organizer, but thankfully, I had a momma who was naturally good at making our home feel cozy, inviting, and filled with so much joy and laughter. Once I became a mom, I found I did so many of the things she did, and not only did it bring back fond memories, but it fostered so much peace. So, I'm just passing it along, hoping it inspires you in some way.
Now, please don’t fret if you are reading this and looking around at your home, feeling this heavy weight and thinking, there is no way, as you see trucks and dolls sprawled across the living room and crumbs from this morning’s breakfast all over the floor. Currently, I have a dishwasher to unload and clothes to fold. So, truth be told, there’s always something. But I invite you to take a deep breath and harness your thoughts because that is where it all begins. And, with that, what a perfect segue, so let’s dig right in!
Focus on What Is True
Are you a comparer? No judgment here, as I do it more often than I’d like to admit, and it is sadly something I have to come clean with God time and time again. Sis, it’s so easy for us to walk into a friend’s home and immediately feel as if our home just wasn’t meant for peace. After all, her home appears to be spotless and the countertops are actually clean, not to mention she has a warm cup of coffee in hand when greeting you at the front door, as her kids are playing ever so kindly upstairs. Let me be very clear here - don’t fall for the enemy’s tactics! It is not going to lead you anywhere good; I can assure you of that.
Rather, enjoy that beautiful home you are in and take note of the ways she is trying to claim her own peace. Then maybe choose to implement some of those things into your own home. What you need to remember is that every mom is doing their best, just as you are. While each of us may fall into different seasons, we must strive to focus on where God has our family and where He is making provisions in making our homes a safe refuge.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to place our sights on what is honorable, right, pure, and lovely. When we decorate our homes with Truth, whether it be a simple plaque you get at a craft store, a family heirloom that holds a favorite verse, or a list of family values, it can cause us to shift our perspective. While some days may be easier than other days, when we see truth displayed around our homes, it easily fills us with gratitude, keeping comparisons at bay and allowing us to see how good God is to us.
Keep It or Chunk It
Okay, now to get into the nitty-gritty, so to speak. Let’s start with a question: Are you the kind of girl who likes to watch home improvement shows, only to feel a little intimidated and slightly overwhelmed? Yes, I can relate. But, before you feel that sense of overwhelm when it comes to setting the stage for peace, remember this - decluttering will feel like “demolition day” - but the end result will be so worth it! Putting the work in to produce a tidy, stress-free environment will promote the peace you long for and a comfortable space for all.
So, where do you begin? Start by sorting stuff into two piles: a “keep it” pile and a “chunk it” pile. As children outgrow toys or clothes, start a donations pile, and get rid of those things to create space. Then place your keepers in bins and baskets to store neatly away until needed. Doing this periodically will keep things from piling up. Minimizing and simplifying your space will do wonders for your sanity in the long run.
Organization tip: Have designated spaces in your home that are meant for toys, games, and kids' activities so they don’t quickly consume every facet of your home. If you want to get fancy with it, label the baskets as a means to help family members easily find where things go as well. Having a “special home” for items such as shoes, coats, backpacks, and things of the sort will also help maintain a cleaner home, helping retain your peace as well.
Clean as You Go
It’s so easy to let things pile up, and before you know it, you are overwhelmed with laundry, dishes, and the sights of mini messes everywhere. Try to practice cleaning as you go. Wash one load of laundry a day. If you see socks on the floor, quickly pick them up, if a Lego piece was missed during clean-up time, toss it in the toy basket so you don’t step on it later. Take notice of the “little things” that may set you off later. If your desk looks messy, take a few moments, straighten it up, and dust it off. Also, put those little people to work and have them unload the dishes or clean the windows. It might be easier to have a cleaning schedule or a cleaning day so each family member can chip in, and it helps you out too.
Outside In or Inside Out
There is something incredible that happens when we welcome greenery into our homes. Not only does it add to the décor, but it helps promote a safe and healthy environment by improving the air quality. You can also welcome the outside in by simply opening up the doors and windows on those beautiful fall weather days and inviting in all the sights and sounds of nature. Talk about a way to decompress.
It is also said that grounding and placing our feet on the earth does wonders for our health, such as reducing inflammation, helping with chronic pain, easing our mood, among so many other benefits, so whenever you are able, take a venture outside and place those bare feet on the earth and kiss God’s creation. Ahhh, bliss!
Smells Like Home
There is a debate as to whether smell is the strongest of our senses. Maybe you would agree? Maybe you would disagree? Either way, smell surely has a way of being attached to our core memories and closely tied to how we react to certain situations. Just step into the closet of someone you love and smell their clothes; then see how it triggers a wide range of emotions.
All that to be said, smell has a way of promoting peace. We can bring that into our homes by lighting a seasonal candle or diffusing essential oils. Some scents even bring in a wellness factor as they have been proven to reduce anxiety or induce a better night’s sleep. If you are looking for a calming feel, try the lavender scent, whereas if you are looking for your home to embrace the fall season, try cinnamon or the infamous pumpkin spice scent. But, let those smells give you a little peace and your heart a little hug.
I hope you find some practical, sweet ways to restore peace and make your home comfortable and enjoyable in your current season. May God bless you, your family, and your beautiful home!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.