Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Place of Your Own

It's hard to decide where to begin, when you feel as though everything needs to be done, but a beginning must be made. I can't really remember where I began, but I am certain it is not where I am sending you first. That is because I can learn from my mistakes. I strongly suggest you begin in your own bedroom. This may seem crazy when the rest of the house feels like it's in shambles, but trust me. You need a quiet place, away from the clutter and noise. You cannot easily gather your strength each day, if your own space makes you cringe. I am sending you to your own bedroom (and bath and closet) because this is where I should have begun my journey.

I would suggest a day just for stripping the room down and deep cleaning. Consider paint, curtains, and bedding later. A clean room is instantly more lovely, and you will have time and peace to ponder making changes or purchases over time. Take separate days for the closet and bath. But keep forging on. As you strip the room down, area by area, pluck out everything that does not belong in your room, and put it outside the door. Set up bins or boxes if need be. Let me suggest a few items that do not belong in your room. Outgrown children's clothing does not belong in your room. The ironing or mending pile does not belong in your room. Children's school work has got to go. Piles of miscellaneous junk definitely do not belong. Last year's taxes and Christmas ornaments from a year and a half ago? Come on! Be ruthless, and don't worry about the growing pile outside the door. As Scarlett O'Hara says, you can worry about that another day. I have rules for my room, and perhaps some of them may work for you. Here's a listie!
  1. Every morning I make my bed. I do it for me, and no one else. It instantly makes my room look neater.
  2. I always fold/hang my laundry neatly in the closet. I never leave laundry piled or laying about my room. Ever. Actually, I pile all my clean laundry in the middle of the living room, because it inspires me to fold it and put it away. When I carry the piles into the bedroom, I place them on the (made) bed, because I cannot go to bed without putting them away.
  3. I do not allow anything related to the children to migrate into my bedroom. In fact, I don't allow the children to migrate into my bedroom. They may knock at the door, and only step inside if invited.
  4. We don't generally eat in the bedroom, though we do occasionally snack. All garbage and dishes are cleaned up promptly in the morning when I make the bed.
  5. All clutter is picked up and put away each morning, the shade is pulled up to let in the sun (or not), and the rug is gone over with the sweeper.
  6. Nothing distracting is allowed in my room. Nothing stress inducing is allowed in my room. Nothing messy is allowed in my room. Nothing stinky is allowed in my room. No half done projects or "To Do" piles are allowed in my room.
I think you get the idea. And yes, I do allow my husband in the room, though he has been known to be messy, and even stinky on occasion. But not in our room. You see, back in the old days, I used to allow my bedroom to be a dumping ground from elsewhere in the house. If I didn't know where to put it, it went in my room. If I couldn't get around to it, it went in my room. If I hated it, but felt too guilty to pitch it...into my room. When I cleaned up the house, my room was the last room on the list, and I hardly ever got there. I had pregnant dust bunnies. I never got around to making my bed. I hated my room.

Then I read something somewhere, about how your bedroom should be a restful oasis. The author even advocated that there should be no photographs or book shelves to intrude. Just clean, comfortable, spaces. I tried the no photo/book thing for awhile, and decided a few small photos and piles of books did not detract from my restful I put them back. But I learned my lesson about the distracting, stress and guilt inducing clutter. And about putting my room first. Amazingly enough, when I made time to clean up my own space, I was more inclined to keep after the other spaces. But above all else, if the other spaces (or people) got overwhelming, I always had a refuge to retreat into.

To be honest, I could cheerfully make my room with nothing more than a mattress on the floor, and piles of books, but over time I have collected bits and pieces that make me happy. We sleep on my great-grand's antique bed, and I lay there and wonder who may have been born or died in it. There's an antique shelf that came from a barn we once owned. Most of the furnishings have been collected over the years, from consignment shops and yard sales. The accessories are gifts. I made curtains, and covers, and pillow cases. The books just find me. I say all of this because you need not break the bank "decorating". Cleanliness and order add grace and beauty to any space. Take time to actually live in it, and decide what you would really like to have, and then wait for it to come to you. When you know what will be just right, you will come across it and know. Don't worry if you have to wait some time. It will be worth it.

One final note. Always look on your closet and bathroom as extensions of your bedroom. Keep them with the same care and attention as your sleeping space. My closet has a place for everything, and so I always put it back in its place, and I never lose anything in there, though it is a cramped, wretched little space. I rarely leave my bathroom without picking up any misplaced item and putting it away. Consequently, it never takes more than a moment to make it perfect. I scrub the whole thing down only weekly, with little touch ups as needed, and it never gets too horrible. But the cupboard is always tidy, the trash emptied each day, and everything is in its place. Lest you are picturing a luxurious master bath, let me say no. Picture a postage stamp, that I share with Beloved Husband, Hippie Boy, and Baby Boy. Make no mistake, I am not whining about my small bedroom, smaller bathroom, or teeny closet. I have come to love them, as I have worked hard to make them work for me. It takes time, thought, and work...and it is so worth it.

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