Home is a space that's supposed to recharge us after tackling the hectic, always-on-the-go world. It (in theory) helps us be our best, most productive selves. Can a healthier, more authentic and joyful home make you less likely to be stressed and more that charming, cool person you know you are? Yes, completely.
Anybody else have trouble keeping their home happy and tension-free? Or even, you know, actually enjoying the time you spend at home? It's hard not getting stressed when the house never seems as clean as it could be and the junk drawers occasionally (okay, almost always) overflow. When things don't go smoothly with roommates or partners. When we busy ourselves with technological distractions instead of really appreciating the place we call home.
If I'm being honest, sometimes I forget to enjoy (and be grateful) of where I live. But with a new year comes an opportunity for a fresh start. A good time to approach home life with a positive perspective. Here's how I'm going to try to cultivate joy in my home this year:
1. Give your home a good morning and good night
Don't roll out of bed onto a keyboard. Stop bringing your smart phone into bed to scroll Instagram until your eyelids get heavy. Set that alarm 10 minutes early to make tea or coffee and sit in your favorite spot in your home. You can use ten minutes after you wake up and before you go to bed any way you want (meditate, exist, water the plants), the point is don't just jump into your day's to-do list immediately. We know regular downtime helps us prepare and unwind from the day; use that time to intentionally make mentally and physically enjoying your home a daily pleasure.
2. Make and strengthen connections
Whether you live with a partner or a roommate, a home isn't just walls and furniture; it's the people you share your physical space with. While you continue to improve the beauty and function of your house, cultivate and strengthen the connections with the living elements of your home. It's telling them thank you when they take out the trash (even if it was their night). Having more patience when they leave their wet towel on the bathroom floor (again). It's sharing your gratitude and appreciation for their presence in your home. And don't forget your furry friends.
3. Don't let fear define how you use your space
If you're still one of those folks who doesn't invite people over because your home's not perfect, cut it out. Embrace how far your home's come, not how far it's got left to go. If you don't use your rooms to their fullest out of fear of spilling food on furniture or some other reason, stop that too.
4. Start a stay-at-home hobby
Occasional TV viewing is a fine way to spend an evening, but what if we decided to really have fun in our homes, rather than just mindlessly tune out? Picking up a new hobby that has you engaging in your home in a positive way could really impact it feeling more like a sanctuary than just a place you sleep and shower. If it's cooking, The Kitchn certainly has plenty of ideas. But maybe it's writing a letter to friends and using your desk for something other than take-home work. Perhaps it's using that chair in your bedroom usually draped in tomorrow's work clothes for catching up on your favorite novel. Don't just exist in your home — enjoy it.
5. Involve your home in annual traditions (or make up your own)
If you're one of the many whose home doesn't reflect the holidays or the seasons, consider reconsidering. Not transforming your home for every holiday isn't a crime, but you are losing out on the opportunity to involve your home in the annual celebrations of the calendar. It can make that "it's the end of the year already?!" feeling even stronger when you ignore the seasons. Bombarded by public displays of festivity when you go outside, it can make your home feel even less homey when you return. Not into the holidays? Make up your own things to celebrate, and incorporate things that you find cheerful — even if it's just twinkly lights and fresh flowers — in your home throughout the year.
6. Let nature in more
Plants, however small or impressive, are always a great choice. A view of a bird feeder or squirrels skittering through the trees works, too. Investing in good drapes, curtains, blinds or shades that operate well, so that you can close them for privacy but also open them wide to let natural light in (however much your home can get) are a must.
7. Commit to cleaning before you leave
Don't always put your home in the position of disappointing you when you walk through the door and face a mess. It's a tall order, especially when asked to commit to a few minutes each day to just sit and enjoy your home in the same post, but trust us when we say this is a great place to push yourself a little to improve.
8. Embrace imperfection (and remember you're not alone)
It's easier said than done, to not beat yourself up that your home isn't quite how you want it to look (and never seems to feel clean enough). It's easy to compare ourselves to impossibly perfect homes we spot on Instagram. As Brené Brown has said: “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together.” We all fail at DIY projects, don't vacuum as often as we'd like and if we're honest, have more like junk closets and rooms than just junk drawers. While we all aim to improve our homes (through the January Cure, perhaps?), let's remember to be kind to ourselves about our homes this year (even when we leave the house a mess or spend an entire weekend watching Netflix).
How are you going to try and make more joy in your home this year? What are the authentic ways in which you enjoy your home?
(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux)