Home is the foundation of every child’s and every adult’s life. Home is the safe haven from a cruel world. It’s where one should feel completely comfortable and relaxed escaping to. Home is where we should feel invited, relaxed and embraced at the end of the day. Though this is not always the case because of family dynamics or disputes among roommates. However, many households have the ability to create the kind of home environment that invites us in and brings about tranquility and relaxation.
To identify what a classic and warm home environment looks and feels like we must first visit a chaotic environment to gain a sense of perspective.
As a family support worker I was given the privilege in being welcomed in over hundreds of homes over the course of my seven years of professional experience. I learned so much about the families simply by the upkeep of the home. In tumultuous households often times there was a significant amount of disorder. Often times this related to the amount of laundry lying around the house or sink full of days old dishes or even animal feces in the corner of the room. Sometimes it was as simple as feeling tension in homes I entered where there was anger and hostility among family members. In many occasions it’s the accumulation of material goods in such a fashion of over consumption and hoarding. None the less these environments did not feel warm or inviting to me nor my fellow colleagues though home is home and my role was not to judge but simply to make observations. I only use these examples because in these household like many other households there were children growing up without manners, examples and instruction. There were also adults dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.
In a more common household we will find a mother who is exhausted, drained and often times stressed. She feels behind in all her tasks. The house is always in a disarray, laundry is piled up, bills are stacked on the kitchen counter and it’s just a cycle of continued chaos. Mornings are chaotic, there’s the grooming routine, making the beds, making breakfast, feeding the children, packing lunches, figuring out what the kids will be wearing, finding the keys, the keys…. where are the freaking keys?! I’m sure we’ve all had mornings as such and then sitting in traffic trying to make it to the office on time after hitting three red lights in a row. By the time you enter your office you’re exasperated and haven’t even seen your first client yet. Evenings don’t prove to be any better. There’s the sitting in traffic trying to recall if you took out poultry or fish for tonight’s dinner and wondering what side dishes will go with your given protein choice only to arrive at home and find out that you didn’t take anything out of the freezer and even a frozen pizza at this point will take too long so you decide cereal for dinner it is tonight. Only problem is this seems to be a trend with you. Cereal for dinner it has been at least two nights a week for the past three weeks. But you’re over this day. Tomorrow will be better but tomorrow comes and guess what..tomorrow is the same.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. This could very well have been a snapshot of my daily living at a particular time in my life. Being a single mother makes it so that time is so valuable and precious. Time to sit on the couch and just zone out is so much more appealing than doing the dishes after dinner or folding that load of laundry. I get it. I can relate but nothing changes if nothing changes.
Once I decided to truly be proactive in my journey of recreating my life I had to take into consideration all the aspects of my life and really decide and understand what works for me and my family and what doesn’t and in this process I have taken to a keen desire to cultivate a classic, warm and tranquil home environment.
For me this meant minimalizing my belongings and ridding myself of things I did not find beautiful, inspiring or necessary hence making room for a new beginning. This also meant I had to create the kind of environment I had in mind. How do I want my home to look? Do I picture it extremely organized with toys and belongings in their proper place or is it more relaxed? What are the esthetics like? Is the furniture and decor light and airy or bold and beautiful? What does my home smell like? Will the scents transcend towards delicious meals or fresh cut flowers or will it be one of my favorite scents burning in the makings of a Yankee Candle? What do I want my home to sound like? Do I want to hear laughter and words of encouragement and motivation or do I want to hear arguing and bickering? Do I want to hear melodies of soft classical music such as Bach or Mozart or upbeat tempo or tropical Latin? How do I want my home to feel? Do I want to feel soft comfortable delicious warm textures to wrap myself in or would I rather the crisp cool materials that produce a refreshing springtime vibe? How do I want my home to taste? Do I want more tradional sit down meals? Do I want to implement more organic fruits and vegetables into my home? What do family meals look like to me? How often will we eat together as a family? Will there be music or candles or some other motif to inspire our time together?
These are all questions we must ask ourselves and take into consideration when creating a home environment that is fitting to our needs and desires. It’s imperative to touch upon all five senses so we will bask in the essence of an environment that soothes, heals and comforts us at the start and end of each day. In reading books such as Lessons from Madame Chic and At Home with Madame Chic by Jennifer L.Scott I was better able to understand how important it is to cultivate a classic home environment for myself and my family. Since home is truly the foundation for myself and my children’s lives it became imperative that my home reflect our personality and also nurture us as far as homes can do.
The purging of the excessive, unnecessary and esthetically challenging came first. Not only did this provide a sense of relief but it also provided a sense of clarity. It became clear what my style was and what I deemed important and valuable.
Next came creating a plan by asking myself the questions that would touch upon all five senses. I wanted my home to feel safe, organized and tranquil. This meant not inviting chaos into my house. People of my past that cause chaos and anguish in my life would not be allowed to step foot in my household. Television shows full of drama and chaos would not be a form of entertainment in my home. These intentional decisions allowed an air of safety, peace and tranquility to stay in my home. Organization became essential in running a productive household. Chores and expectations were set clearly for each member of my family, even my three year old assisted with dusting and sweeping and returning items to their respective place. This not only aided me in running my household but began teaching my children responsibility and teamwork. Setting out tomorrow’s attire the night before and packing lunches proved to be successful in the morning when I slept through my alarm or simply took my time getting out of bed. Routines and structure played into the success of smoothly operating our home with ease. Bedtimes were implemented and followed through with little deviation. While in some of my friend’s houses the children were up as late as 11pm at times, our household as a whole was in bed by 9pm. Sleep I believe is critical in healing the mind and body and essential for cellular repreation and growth. Our bedtimes did not and do not deviate with the exception of planned late night events occasionally on weekends. I know for some people this simply will not work and some tend to be night owls rather than early birds however as a single mother of two I had to quickly find out what worked best for my family so we could function at an optimal level. 9pm meant in beds, in pj’s, teeth brushed, prayers said and all lights completely off.
In reading various books and articles on home keeping I decided what I felt was valuable to implement in my household so that it held an air of class, grace, elegance and sophistication. It became important to me to begin using my best everyday to subconsciously impact our minds with the belief and notion that as a personal, prized human being we are worthy of the best. When everyone told me I should buy simple kid friendly furniture I kindly rejected their suggestion and while I was meant with skeptism and criticism I decided to invest my money in more classic and distinctive pieces that made my home feel ever so slightly a bit more elegant. If home is where I spend time away from the world with my most loved ones then it should be a place that speaks to my needs and my desires and not to that of the world or what other’s believe is right for me. I know what’s right for me. You know what’s right for you. Simply put we get to be our own individual cocreators of our own life and own world’s in our homes.
My dinette purchase was more than a piece of beautiful furniture. It became a focal point of elegance and class and inspired me to take my time creating meals that would look just as lovely as the furniture itself. It inspired me to set the table the night before for breakfast and to always use my fine china. Gone were the days of chipped bowls, mugs and plates. Gone were the days of mismatched dishware and silverware. Now we used our best daily to reiterate that we are worthy of the best, that we are valuable and we are prized. Of course we know these things without the need of material goods however often times we don’t treat ourselves as such. I wanted to teach my children that I honored and respected them on a daily basis by making them feel honored and respected simply by using our very best. Meals were to be eaten at the table together as a family. It was so cute when I first implemented our mealtimes together because I taught my son that noone could start eating until we were all seated and had prayed. And low and behold my daughter would sit at the table and begin eating her meal to which my son would tattle tail on her. I then had to explain to her that we were eating together and catching up with each other. I wanted dinnertime to be comfortable and not simply rushed through until the meal was finished. I wanted to instill manners and values and hear pleases and thank yous. I had to enforce a no phone, no tablet, no overheard television type of policy when at the table. I really believe that this helps form a level of respect and value to our time together as a family.
Cultivating a classic home environment also meant establishing rules and norms and expectations. Swearing in my opinion is not classy and therefore not used as a means of communicating in my household. It also means finding ways to compliment each other in little ways and bringing each other up rather than tearing each other down. Cultivating a classic home also means implementing activities that you enjoy in your home whether it’s hosting a brunch, a girl’s night in or a potluck. It’s sharing your home with people that add zest and value to your life.
It means taking time to connect with others, whether it’s by hosting a gathering, playing a board game with your children or simply sitting outside under the stars with a friend and a glass of wine. These little moments though they seem so insignificant are actually what create our lives. It’s the little changes such as dinners together, walks as a family or game nights and scented candles in a dimly lit room with a movie playing that will end up having a profound impact. It has been said that if you want to change your life you need to change one thing you do everyday. Why not make that change at home first? Work on the foundation, the internal and cultivate peace, class and elegance and watch it trickle to other areas and very possibly change your life.