The only time I get to sneak a peek at Traditional Home magazine, my favorite, is while I wait for the dentist. I love getting to quietly flip through and see how different designers reinvent traditional homes with modern flair, juxtaposing things like wild fabrics with clean lines and classic design elements.
But each of those photos only captures a moment in time, and it is so hard for me not to compare the constant chaos of my home to the sleek pictures in the magazine.
When we moved into our home I was 5 months pregnant with our first daughter. It was quiet, just the two of us. I painted the bedrooms and organized our things at my normal 100-miles-an-hour pace. And then our baby came when the majority of the house was still only halfway painted. I got a huge reality check: things were no longer going to happen as quickly as I wanted.
Projects that used to take a couple of days stretched into two to three months. More kids came, and so did more stuff. Then that stuff had to go, because it was cluttering our home. The cycle just went on and on, until one day, nine years later, I realized that our home is a place of transition.
It’s not meant to be a perfect snapshot. I was rooted in vanity and fear that no one would love me or want to spend time in my home if it didn’t have the right kind of flooring, a separate playroom for the kids, or a backyard playset. And I had to ask God for forgiveness, forgive myself, and let it go.
As our family grows and our children get older, I want our home to be a joyful, welcoming place where friends and family can relax together. Here are three ways we are working towards a home that is not a picture perfect snapshot, but feels comfortable for everyone:
As an avid shopper this one has been really difficult for me, but cutting down on the amount of physical items that come into our house has made a world of difference. Leave the item in your Amazon cart for a few days and see if you can live without it. Don’t just shop because you have a coupon (guilty!). This one does get harder as children get added to the family because more people does mean more stuff, but clutter can still be minimized. Capsule wardrobes have helped us reduce the amount of clothing we need to one giant closet for six people!
Easier said than done, but I have noticed that when the house doesn’t feel full of stuff, I feel more peaceful and not as worried about our home. In our house, what that looks like is sorting and getting rid of mail as soon it comes, letting the kids keep a relatively small amount of toys, and constantly getting rid of clothes that don’t fit well and items we no longer use. And I’m serious about the constantly part: my bedroom always has a few boxes to sort things we no longer use into a donation box or bags for different friends who can use kid supplies.
Buy high-quality items.
This goes along buying less. In cutting down on purchases, we’ve also found buying higher quality products does make a difference. While it initially costs more, we spend less having to constantly replace items. For example, we invested in four quality knives when we got married. One decade and several at-home sharpening sessions later, they’re still in excellent condition and we have no need to purchase any more.
Your home and your family are constantly changing. Don’t give into the lie that having a picture-perfect life will bring you happiness. We have to rightly order people over things, practice detachment from material goods, and remember that our homes here on earth are not our eternal homes. And I’m right there alongside you, striving to fight these temptations every day.