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10 November 2009 @ 09:03 pm
Creating Tranquility in Your Home  

I don't know about you, but sometimes it seems like our house just has a funk. Not a less-than-clean funk (which does occasionally happen), but an overall vibe that is less than pleasing. I'm always envious of tv commercial homes where everyone is always smiling (even when the 4 year old just poured and ENTIRE jug of juice on the floor. Again.) and it seems for all the world like someone pressed the "easy" button... That's just not real life! At least, it's not MY life. Not that we're ogres or anything, but sometimes, it seems like everything is stressful and too fast-paced when I really want it to be serene and totally zen-like.

How do you get there? Here are some suggestions:

1. Set a good example.
CHOOSE to be happy. CHOOSE to see the bright side of things. In today's world of anti-depressant laden parenting, it's HARD sometimes to just choose to be happy, or in a good mood. As a mom who does take anti-depressants, I know first hand how difficult it is to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and make a choice NOT to be grouchy. As the mom, it usually does fall to us to take the lead in attitude, and knowing that makes it both harder and easier to lead by example. It is worth it though if you're the one who tends to set the tone in your home. Being concious of that fact and making the choice to be cheerful can help drive that negative energy away.

2. Focus on the positives
Start with yourself. Take a couple of minutes every morning (or evening - whenever) and concentrate on the things in your life that are positive. It may be something small like, "I totally resisted the urge to have an extra donut at breakfast" or "I am so glad that the kid's aren't counted tardy until the 8:30 bell" ;)
From there, work on your family. Pick a time and make it a habit - at a mealtime is a good one, and have each person take a turn to share something positive or interesting they learned, saw, did, or thought about. Use that time to be encouraging and uplifting. Start small - once a week if every day seems like a big-undoable-thing. Don't let it get overwhelming!

3. Clutter causing your funk?
We sometimes don't realize how our home's physical environment can affect mood. My personal philosophy on "stuff" has become (with LOTS of work), "Whatever is in my space should be something that I LOVE, that makes me HAPPY, makes me feel GOOD or BEAUTIFUL." That has helped me (major packrat that I am) to let go of things that I've been hanging onto that don't conform to the above!
If there is a mess in the main living areas (or even your own spaces), or you have clutter causing problems, work together to clear the space. Start a "5 minute family clean up" time focused on one problem area. We call ours the "10 Second Tidy" (from that show, "Big Comfy Couch" - even though it's longer than 10 seconds). Set a timer, play some energetic music (Tejano/Latin/Salsa music is GREAT for motivation!) and either let the kids decide what to contribute to cleaning, or assign tasks. Make it a game... Start out doing it once a week, or once a day, and build from there. There are several schools of thought about the placement of things in your home, or the colors that you use to decorate having an effect on your moods too. Even if you don't subscribe to those reasonings, everyone enjoys a change of scenery once n a while. If all else has been eliminated and the funk persists, try changing things up a bit with different furniture placement or paint colors.

4. Focus on enjoying your time together.
Family togetherness - just enjoying being together as a family without the outside world intruding is a great way to improve the vibe in your home. You can start small - family dinnertime (or whatever meal works best for all of you) - Dinner Games are a great way to get into a new routine. Advance to Family Game Night, Family Dance Party (each person picks a song and dances however they want to the music; after everyone has a turn, put on a different song and have everyone dance together), Family Craft Night or whatever floats your boat. If you're more of an outdoors-y or techie family, find activities that fit your family's style! It may take a while to find a good fit, but you can make the journey part of the fun.

5. Need less pressure?
Try this: simply BE with your kids. Turn off the TV, put away the PC, throw your schedule or agenda out the window and just BE with them, doing what they're doing. If they're in a bad mood, just observe - be in the moment with them. Don't try to cajole them out of it, just BE. If they're in a good mood, great - let your kiddos lead.

6. Count your blessings - literally!
Tack up a big poster board and start counting your blessings. Each person contributes one item on the list. It can be as plain or as decorated as your family wants to make it, but the focus should be on all the positives.

7. Get a motto!
If you're spiritually inclined, put up a verse or saying that makes you feel good in a prominent space and let that be the "reminder" for your family. We have a big chalkboard in our kitchen that often has song lyrics or something funny that one of us said written on it. You can get a cheap "whiteboard" or "dry erase" board by taking a piece of posterboard to Manning's and having it soft laminated. Make it easy!

8. Fill your home with love.
Give lots of hugs and kisses and cuddles, and say lots of "I love you"s. Remind your spouse that s/he hung the moon for you. Make sure that your kids know that they are the EXACT children you asked for. Leave little love notes tucked into random places for your family members to find. Never underestimate how much positive feedback and self-esteem building little things like that can influence the atmosphere in your home. Happy people make happy spaces.

9. Create a cleansing ritual for your home.
Talk with your family about how to improve the funk. Kids love words accompanied by action! Grab a broom and sweep, sweep, sweep the negativity out the door. Make your house smell great - bake some bread or cookies, try potpourri, scented oils, essential oils, incense, Renuzit, Air Wick, whatever makes you inhale deeply and smile. If you'd like some spiritual help, try burning some sage (if there are not respiratory issues), sprinkling some scented water, reciting a poem, reading a verse or saying a prayer...whatever speaks to you and yours.

10. Practice being kind to each other.
It's okay if it's exaggerated so long as it becomes a habit. Don't underestimate the impact that silliness backed by sincerity can have on your kids. Expressing appreciation for the kindness received or witnessed is sure to build confidence and regard.

11. Have a Family Meeting
If you're feeling funky, then you can bet that your family is, too. If your kids are old enough to communicate, then they may have some valuable suggestions for improving things, too. Giving them a forum to be heard can drastically alter the way that they see things and can make a positive impact on your home's vibe.

Whatever you decide to do, doing something on purpose to positively affect the energy in your home is going to net some kind of benefit for your family. Making your family part of the process is even better.

(Inspired by a thread from MDC, here. Thanks to fritz
for the bulk of these suggestions!)