Thursday, February 06, 2014

Carve out a place to rest

As I look back over past posts, I realize that during the past year or so, I haven't written a whole lot about homemaking. It's not that I don't think it's important, but because when life is feeling tenuous, as much of last year did, homemaking (or at last being purposeful in homemaking) seems to slide by the wayside. So many homemaking books seem to assume that you have life under control that I think I book on homemaking when the bottom falls out of life would be closer to more people's lives.

Since life around here has been feeling more and more stable over the past months (there's still a long way to go, but we have seen marked improvements among some family members), I have been able to slowly work on projects that fell by the wayside. I'm mentioned about getting the photo albums under control, plus I have made the mending pile disappear... by actually mending the items, not just giving it away wholesale. (For those of you who also have large mending piles, it really only took a couple hours of concentrated work. The feeling of relief and accomplishment far exceeded the amount of time expended.) Then Saturday I decided to tackle my bedroom.

I don't know how things go in your home, but for some reason, my bedroom becomes the dumping ground for many things? Outgrown, clothes, too-big clothes, clothes that need to be fixed, toys that need to be fixed, hardware type items that need to be put away but can't be left for little people to get at, and any number of other random items that are awaiting placement in their actual home. The piles grow as they become larger and more daunting to deal with. And piles of stuff beget piles of stuff. Have you noticed that? Once some stuff if piled somewhere it's as if you're asking people to pile other stuff along with it. Stuff must get lonely awfully easily. Piles of stuff also make it difficult to actually clean. Oh sure, you can dust around them, but it's not quite the same and very easy to tell yourself that you'll deal with the piles first and then really dust. I think you get the picture. That was my bedroom.

Now we all know that sleep and rest (real rest) is necessary for us as parents to be at our best. We need to feel at our best to handle the demands that each day brings. Parenting children, especially children from hard places, it like running a marathon every single day. It is physically and emotionally taxing. We need our rest. It also doesn't take too much thought to realize that if our sleep environment is chaotic, it is not going to lead to restful sleep. When the last thing you see before you go to bed are piles of stuff that induce guilt and the first thing you see in the morning are piles of stuff that induce guilt, it doesn't make for a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Even though I know this, I still allow the piles to grow. It seems to be a cyclical problem for me.

Well, I had a couple of free hours, so decided I needed to do something about it all. I was tired of continually staring at the stuff and mentally kicking myself for not dealing with them. Like the mending pile, when I actually tackled the piles, it took only a couple of hours to put everything away and clean the room. It seemed silly to be so avoidant about something that only took a couple of hours of my time. Boy, was it worth it. I can walk in my room now and feel calm. I actually like to sit in it. It's also easier to read to the little people because we are not competing for space on the couch with the piles.

Now, let's get this clear. My room is neat and clean, but is still not a thing of beauty... that would require a significant overhaul involving tearing down crumbling plaster and such. Even simple things such as replacing the broken mini-blinds require a little more extraneous cash than we have on hand at the moment. I can live with that, clean is much more important at this point. Because now when I'm in my room, I am not bombarded by a visual to-do list; I can do other things. Just by not looking at piles of stuff, space in my brain is freed up. I am convinced I even sleep better. It's nice to be able to walk into a room and smile because there is nothing I have to do in it.

So let me encourage you, make your bedroom your first priority if your house or your life is feeling a little out of control. I know it's a little counter-intuitive. It's not a room for public display and it's (usually) not a room where the family spends a lot of time, but it is a room where you rest and that is designated just for the parents. I find if I can carve out just one calm spot, a place I can retreat to if even for a moment, it helps me with functioning in the other aspects of my life.

But, I hear you saying, what if that room has become so piled and out of control that it is going to take more than a couple of hours to clean out? Well, the obvious answer is to take more than a couple of hours to work on it. Make it a priority, though, and keep at it. It may also be that much of the stuff piled in the room isn't necessary to life. If there is that much, do you even know what is really in there? Is it still needed? Or is it like some items in my mending pile and they have been outgrown before they could be fixed? Have you missed these things while they lay under piles? Maybe you just need to bag much of it up and give it away. Maybe even without really sorting it. Just get it out of your room.

Give yourself and your spouse the gift of a peaceful place for the two of you. Give yourself the gift of a place to have restful sleep. By giving yourselves this gift, you will be blessing your family because you will be more rested. Don't believe me? Try it.

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