I always loved the idea of my home as my sanctuary, but I didn't realize that it would never be the case unless I made a point of making it the case.
For the most part, I'm naturally pretty lazy and more than a little disorganized, so it follows that my house can get a bit messy. Dishes pile up, dust bunnies multiply and stacks of dirty (or clean but unfolded) laundry take over. Not to mention those weird paper piles that seem to appear as if from thin air.
When my house is like this I feel stressed, frustrated and generally defeated.
When I'm not in control of my environment, my environment controls me.
A sanctuary should be peaceful, it should be inviting. It should not only be functional, but it should function easily. Everything IN my house should contribute to the functionality or the enjoy-ability of my life.
How many of us just exist in an environment that is neither peaceful NOR functional, just because we aren't making it peaceful and functional?
Well I certainly did, for a few years at least. I always recognized that it felt so good to sit down in the evening with the house totally clean and everything put away. There is no better way to relax than knowing that there is no work to be done, no rush in the morning to find stuff, and no potatoes molding in your pantry (yep - that's happened).
For those years, my home as my sanctuary was always an ideal that was just beyond my grasp. It took me a while to get it figured out, but now I know I need just a few simple strategies to remain in control of my environment, so that my home always feels like my sanctuary.
De-clutter, then be diligent about what you bring into your sanctuary
Because clutter was one of the biggest obstacles I had to make my home feel like my sanctuary (junk sitting around makes me feel tired and overwhelmed), de-cluttering was SO important. It was hard. It took me a really long time. Sometimes I look around and realize I'm not even done yet. But I'm OK with it being a process, because I live here.
Now that (most of) the clutter is gone, my home feels so much lighter. As though all of the junk was weighing it down, and now it's got so much more air ... or space, or both.
It's crazy how fast stuff can come into our homes. If I wasn't careful, my home would be full of clutter again in just a few months. I've had to learn to say no to stuff. No to good deals at garage sales, no to impulse purchases, no to well-meaning friends and family who want to pass on something they no longer use.
I've developed a new appreciation for the stuff I already have. This really helps me to not bring in more stuff.
Organize, of course
There is a whole big wide Pinterest world out there devoted to this topic. Do it. BUT, remember that no junk is better than organized junk. Right?
I've had to come up with better systems for my recycling and storing seasonal items. Having this stuff just sit in the porch or spare room for weeks on end is devastating to having a home that feels like a sanctuary.
Tidy up as you go, but remember that you live here
If you make a point of tidying each room before you leave it, things tend to stay tidy. I find my biggest, baddest, habit is leaving my clothes on the bathroom floor after I shower. As long as I pick the clothes up EVERY SINGLE DAY, there is never a pile. If I leave them just one day though, that's it. They just attract more clothes. I don't know how they do it. And not only clothes, but it's like they pull other stuff out of the cabinets. Suddenly the hairdryer is left on the counter and there's a little pile of bobby pins having a party by the sink.
If I just make a point of putting away those clothes every day, the whole bathroom stays clean. But allowing myself to be lazy once allows me to be lazy all the time.
I'm not suggesting you stop living your life and clean all the time. Extremely messy is no good, but neither is being extremely focused on perfection. A dirty bowl in the sink shouldn't make me shudder, as long as it's gonna get washed soonish. Three days of dirty dishes or last night's popcorn bowls in the living room? That's no good.
Speaking of dishes...
It's OK to cheat - decide what your priorities are
I hate doing dishes. My husband is pretty great, he doesn't mind it at all and often he'll wash up after supper. If I had to handwash everything I'd always have that three-day-old pile sitting around. I'm all for being frugal and green, but my dishwasher runs lotsbecause I prioritize a clean kitchen and avoid doing dishes pretty highly. I prioritize it over saving money on dishwasher soap and the cost of running that dishwasher.
I constantly read these articles that say "do a load of laundry every day to stay on top of it" and I always think it sounds so wasteful. But maybe laundry is a struggle for you and you have to prioritize having a tidy home and being on top of the laundry over the cost of doing laundry every day. If one load of laundry is something you can handle but six loads on the weekend destroys all your good intentions, well, you should probably do one load a day.
Take the time and money to make your home beautiful
Understand that I'm not saying go buy a bunch of throw pillows or lamps and put it all on your credit card. You can make your home beautiful on the cheap, it might just take some creativity and resourcefulness. If you make your space one that is beautiful to you, you'll be much more likely to want to keep it tidy and organized. Don't feel like you need to make it beautiful to other people - this is all about you! (OK and the people you live with. It just wouldn't be fair to me to ask my husband to live in a pink girly bedroom ... so we found good middle ground.)
I often think of this quote when I think of how to make sure my home remains my sanctuary:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris
What makes your home your sanctuary? Is keeping it tidy and uncluttered an important part of that or not so much?
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Carly Campbell's website. It has been republished here with permission.