The thing about being trapped in your house is that it brings a lot of things into rather sharp focus.
Like, for example, if you really hate your kitchen curtains or your toilets clogs all the darn time, being home more than usual is going to make those things pop out at you. Things that you didn’t mind that much before might begin to drive you crazy. It can also lead to family annoyances heating up, too. I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve found all those things to be true about more time spent at home. However, it can also make you feel immense gratitude.
Personally, I’ve found that it’s made me really appreciative of having a safe place to be, especially because I know that’s not the case for everyone. My gratitude for my surroundings, from a cozy couch with a dog on it to a decent-sized backyard to two loud kids, is running over lately.
Even though there are plenty of minor annoyances within it, in a time of worldly chaos, I’ve started to view my home as my absolute sanctuary.
It’s been a huge positive side effect of not really leaving my home all that much, except to make a masked grocery run here or there. It’s not because my home is picture-perfect. Not at all. But it’s my home. It belongs to me and only me. And in reality, I’ll probably live here for a very long time. So I might as well love it and love it hard. That’s exactly the shift that’s started to happen.
When I say there is work to be done here, that is far from an understatement. There’s a kitchen floor that has been half torn up from a dishwasher flood two years ago. There are painting projects, old dingy carpets that smell like the family dog, and so on. In any case, imperfect as it is, there are so many great things about my home, too. Many of those things are ones I look past on the regular, only now I’m immersing myself in them.
For starters, that looks like taking notice of my habits and my go-to spots. The things that really bring me joy are working at a desk I recently made over in a corner of my basement, relaxing in my backyard hammock, and hanging out on the front porch. They are really simple things that I don’t have to leave home to do but that I love. They are also the things that make my home what it is — the place where I work, live, take care of my kids, and rest my head.
There are absolutely things I don’t like about my home — that much is true. My kitchen simply needs a makeover. A broken dishwasher is incredibly problematic in a house with kids. I’m not obsessing about those things. Instead, I’m making plans for how to make my space work better for me.
There is just so much fixing up that still needs to happen, even though I’ve lived here for over eight years. But as a single mom, I don’t have help with home projects, and I also don’t have a lot of time to do them all. What I can do is slowly begin to tackle them.
I’m giving myself some small projects and dedicating more time to making my home an even nicer place to be. They don’t cost a lot of money — just little things like painting cabinets or applying stick-on wallpaper going up my staircase. But they go a long way, and not just because they make my surroundings look better. Putting in the effort feels good and makes my home feel even more like a reflection of me.
I’m also just genuinely showing my home more love. I run the vacuum a bit more. I pick up the kids’ toys and am more obnoxious about asking them to clean their rooms. I light incense and burn candles because I’m here all the time and I want it to smell good. These things require minimal effort, but in the process, my sanctuary becomes a more enjoyable place to be.
In any case, as imperfect as my home may be, I feel lucky to say that I feel like my home is my sanctuary. In fact, I am lucky. For many people, being home all the time is immensely hard because their circumstances are really tough. For some, they might even not be safe. I am well aware of this as I write this love letter to the place that I live.
It’s my hope for everyone living through a bad situation right now that if they are at all able, they can get out of it when the time is right. And for those who have perfectly fine living situations but haven’t stopped to notice, my advice would be to relish that and do what you can to feel at peace with where you live. Houses can never be perfect, but homes are what we make them.
The fact is, your home is where you’re going to spend most of your time, maybe even most of your life. So whether it’s big or small, cluttered or sparse, you have to find ways to make it work for you, even when you’re not in it all the time. At the end of the day, home is still the place you should find solace.