Setting Intentions for Your Home and Your Life (Wellness Wednesday)

Outer order contributes to inner calm.” Gretchen Rubin

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

Good Intentions

There are so many wellness habits we may be working on this fall to improve the quality of our lives: sleep, exercise, or mindfulness, or diet. It is absolutely necessary to build these healthy habits for living your best life. Today, though, I want to focus on another area that is just as personal: your home.

Your living space should reflect the kind of life you want to live. This means being intentional about what you want your life to look like. Have you ever spent time visualizing the home you want to live in? Have you written down words that reflect how you envision it? Do you want a warm, welcoming peaceful place to enjoy your life, and time with family and friends? Do you want to feel at ease and comforted whenever you walk through your door?

I set my intention years ago when I decided that I wanted my home to be peaceful and comforting to me so that I enjoyed being there every day, and so that my family and friends wanted to be there too. And I highly recommend that you take some time to think about the kind of life you want at home and write down a list of ways you want it to be. Stick it to your fridge door or inside a cabinet door so you can see it often.

Two Habits

Since I wanted a peaceful, comforting living space, I had to form two habits: 1. I had to clean my house regularly (bathrooms, kitchen surfaces, dusting, vacuuming, mopping), and 2. I had to regularly tidy and get rid of things I no longer used. This second habit is the key to easy, fast cleaning and an organized, tidy home, and it actually comes first.

Until I met Alan and moved into our very large 1850s house, I always lived in small apartments and houses with not much room for storage. So I got used to looking over my belongings and giving things away/taking things to Salvation Army every month or so. My mom did this regularly and I saw the wisdom in it. I always have a bag started with things we are finished using, wearing, reading, etc.

The More Stuff You Have, The Harder it is to Clean

You might think cleaning your house once a week is impossible, but what is behind the resistance? Does the task seem overwhelming to even think of? Is the overwhelm related to the amount of stuff you have accumulated in your home?

Think of the top of your dresser, for instance. Is it covered with stuff? Piles of clothes, bottles of makeup, loose change, trinkets, and knick-knacks? Do you find it easy to dust that dresser top? How often do you get around to it? I’m guessing if it’s covered with stuff, you don’t get to it often because it’s such a pain to take everything off to dust it. 

If you were able to put all the clothes where they belonged, put your bottles in a basket, and maybe just had 1-3 knick-knacks displayed, it would be a breeze to dust that dresser! To quote the title of Mari Kondo’s book, it really is life-changing and magical to tidy up.

Litmus Test for Tidying

Do you know what you own? I like to be able to locate anything I own without searching for it. When I can’t find something, I know it’s time to spend a few days tidying, and getting rid of things I don’t need anymore. This allows room for what is coming next in my life. If I am holding on to stuff I no longer need or use, this is symbolic of holding onto the past and not being willing to move forward in life. I don’t want that! No matter how good the past was, I want to have room in my life for the goodness and abundance that is coming next.

How to Tidy To Change Your Life

Marie Kondo recommends focusing on one category at a time. And if you have a whole day at a time to do this, then go ahead. Gather all the clothing in your home, pile it on your bed, and start deciding. But if you have a busy life, are a chronic pack rat or just don’t like to clean or tidy, I recommend focusing on one room at a time.

For example, start with your bedroom. And then break that down into manageable bites, like doing one dresser drawer each day. Then move on to your closet and do the top shelf first, and work your way down, one day at a time. After a week or so, depending on how many drawers and shelves you have, you’ll have a whole room done.

If you do it the KonMari way, she has you pull all the things in one category (like clothing) out from the space you’re going to tidy and hold each item in your hand. If it sparks joy, it’s a keeper; if it doesn’t, you can give it away to a friend or to goodwill, sell it, or recycle it.

After you’ve gone through the clothes from one drawer and decided what to keep, you can learn how to fold them using the KonMari Method: I learned this on Youtube. There are videos here and here. Even underwear and socks can be folded neatly!

When you first learn to fold this way, it will seem slow and awkward, especially if you could win a lifetime messy folder award (like me). But once you experience the thrill of opening your drawer and seeing all of your clothes at once, you will never go back to just stuffing stacks of clothes into a drawer. It actually is a timesaver!

Cleaning is Easy Now

Once you’ve gotten rid of excess stuff, you can tidy daily and pick a regular day or night to clean. If you have kids, they should each learn to tidy and clean; you’ll teach them healthy habits that will benefit them their entire lives.

On cleaning day, I like to do my bathroom and kitchen surfaces first, then dust furniture and shelves, vacuum, and mop. People often think because my home is clean that I enjoy cleaning. The truth: I don’t! But I do enjoy the result. And I like the sense of control I feel. I may not be able to change certain things in my life today, but I have control over the beauty and order in my home. And you do too!

If you’ve tidied using the KonMari Method, or some other way, share about it in comments!

My Favorite Books About Tidying and Housekeeping

Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

In this book, Gretchen shares 9 reasons why you want a clean, well-ordered living space.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

This is the classic that everyone should read. Marie shares her revolutionary method with plenty of how-tos.

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider

I read this as a young mom and it was very helpful for me to be more intentional with my home and family. She has helpful forms you can use and many natural cleaning recipes. If you are a parent, read this book!

Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

This is like the bible of housekeeping. If you need to know how to iron something, how to get a particular stain out of a tablecloth, how to clean every kind of surface you can imagine, or why you should even clean in the first place—you will find it all within these pages. I read this as a very young person and think every home should have a copy.

Aromatherapy Blends

Cleaning Day Blend

Place drops in diffuser, fill with distilled water and diffuse for 1-3 hours

2 drops Bergamot 

3 drops Lemon

2 drops Cedarwood

Aromatherapy Mopping Blend

Apply drops to bottom of steam mop or spray mop

6 drops Lemon

3 drops Tea Tree

2 drops Lavender

Eating Frogs, Spring Cleaning, and Other Fun Things

A long time ago, a dear friend of mine had the habit of cleaning her home on Mondays. When I asked her why she chose Monday as her cleaning day, her practical answer was that Mondays are a day that no one looks forward to. So she felt that getting the cleaning out of the way paved the way for a happier outlook for the rest of the week.

This is the mentality found in Mark Twain’s frog quote: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

We all have places we want to go in our lives: personal goals and dreams that we are reaching for. But we have to do the hard and tedious stuff first. It’s necessary! Whatever it is you don’t want to do right now (and these are on my list this week): call the insurance company, get a new social security card, find a way to make a wireless printer work with my new 5G connection…just do it. Quit procrastinating! Use Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule if you need to…Make that dentist appointment, finish a sewing project and ship it, declutter the back room, clean the bathroom…just pick one and do it first thing in the morning. I promise you will feel better knowing you did that hard thing first.

In her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis shares a pretty clear message: you have to do the work and be the hero of your story. No one will do the hard things for you. Dreams are important and you need them, but, as Rachel says, you can’t live on hope. To make those dreams a reality requires a lot of uphill effort. In her podcast episode 72 about the daily practice that changed her life, she tells us we should write out our dreams, like it’s already reality, and then begin to reverse engineer what it will take to get you there.

So make your list and eat a frog first thing tomorrow morning!

And, in case you are doing some cleaning and want to know what cleaning products and tools (and a few books on home organization/care) I use, here’s my list of favorites. In my own life, having a clean and organized environment is necessary for my mental and emotional health. I am with Marie Kondo on this–the more clean and uncluttered your living spaces, the more you will enjoy your life.

Home Comforts

Organized Simplicity

Biokleen All-Purpose Cleaner

7th Generation Glass Cleaner

7th Generation Wood Spray

7th Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop

Shark Steam Pocket Mop

Microfiber Cloths

Share your frogs and cleaning adventures in comments!