Happy at home

November 13th, 2012

What helps you feel happy at home? Leave a comment letting me know, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of happiness expert Gretchen Rubin’s new book Happier at Home. Winner will be randomly drawn this Friday, noon CT. Good luck!


Now, with a rush of old memories, how clearly it stood up before him, in the darkness! Shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day’s work. And the home had been happy with him, too, evidently, and was missing him, and wanted him back, and was telling him so, through his nose, sorrowfully, reproachfully, but with no bitterness or anger; only with plaintive reminder that it was there, and wanted him.

The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

I get nesty in November. The crazy, carny month of October has been run out of town on the rails. December’s glittering blizzard is still a mere and distant flurry. In a few weeks, it will be howling at the door, and I am savoring every minute of this calm that precedes it.

In spring and summer, all I want to do is run away from home. Fall and winter call me in again. This morning, on the way through the sunroom with a basket of laundry, I stopped at the window to watch a squirrel at work in the yard, his fat tail twitching, little hands digging–the picture of industriousness. I, too, have been digging into earthy things–simple tasks, like sorting closets, knitting presents, baking and cooking. The work of hands. It’s been satisfying and soothing.

My mailbox makeover has been the epicenter of this burst of domestic energy. With the Halloween decorations down, I was able to begin painting our dingy white louvered door turquoise. I managed one coat this weekend before it got cold and rainy. I’m hoping to finish it next weekend.

I think I’m just now really beginning to understand the power of done.  When I look at my goals and tasks each day, I’m looking for what I can complete. What’s in reach? What will give me the most energetic payback and clear my way to the bigger stuff? How can I break that big stuff down into smaller chunks of finished things?

The kids were out of school Thursday and Friday of last week. Rather than spend both days frustrated at not getting any writing accomplished, I decided to tackle another of the items on my “stuck” list: laundry. As in, too much of it, it’s never finished, and no one can find anything to wear. The symptom was the baskets and baskets of clothes that had taken up permanent residence in my bedroom, creating a secondary massive infection of clutter. The baskets were in our bedroom because the laundry room was full of seasonal clothes and linens, things needing ironing, mending or dry cleaning, and boxes of hand-me-downs.

In short, it was a mess. I got exhausted just looking at it.

I began by doing what I usually do when I don’t know where else to begin: with a list. I used my beloved Cozi to make a list of what a reasonable fall and winter wardrobe would look like for each boy: 4-6 long sleeve Ts, 4 pairs jeans, one dress up outfit, 4 prs PJs, etc. Then I sorted all the clean clothes by child, without folding, and put a print-out of the checklist on top of each pile. The two older boys were able to do their own inventory with very little curation from me. It helped to give them an incentive — I said I would order the new parkour shoes they’ve been begging for, the minute they had their inventory complete.

It very quickly became evident what was at the root of our laundry logjam. We took two large trash bags’ worth of clothes out of circulation. Clothes that didn’t fit anyone, or weren’t liked very well, that I’ve been picking up, washing, drying and piling for months and months. Next, I uncovered several boxes of stored hand-me-downs and winter clothes in the laundry room, and was able to check a few more boxes on the younger boys’ lists. AND, OH HEY, LAUNDRY TABLE. Long time no see.

By lunchtime, we were ready to shop for the new things that were needed, which was much more fun than I was expecting. I don’t think I’ve had the boys in the mall with me since at least one of them was in a stroller. Another reason to be glad we’re in the middle years.

By afternoon, I had the closets looking like this:


And I could see my bedroom floor again. Which gave rise to a burst of inspiration for a BIG, NEW to-do.

That can wait till next year.





21 Responses to “Happy at home”

  1. Melissa says:

    Good for you! I hate that chore; the kids are always growing so no sooner do I get it figured out and then somebody can’t fit into half their pants.

  2. marilee pittman says:

    Busy busy!

  3. Patty says:

    What makes me feel happy at home is spending a weekend afternoon fixing up the yard, cleaning out the garage, or organizing a closet or drawer! Last week I organized the utility closet in our downstairs bathroom, made labels for every bin and threw away a lot of old stuff!

  4. Melissa Mc says:

    On our Thursday and Friday we didn’t get out of our pjs.
    I wish I had a laundry table!! I’m limited to a laundry closet. Oh to live outside CV. 🙂

  5. martha says:

    I’m happy when my kids attack the chalkboard wall together. And my granny pyrex collection, that makes me smile. Love that passage!

  6. I’m happy at home when things are clean and everything is in it’s place. I also like the fall view out my kitchen window.

  7. Sheryl says:

    I love a fire in the fire place and the TV OFF.

  8. Lee Cockrum says:

    I love to spend time in my craft room, making things for people, or in the kitchen, making some yummy food!

  9. mary says:

    Getting up saturday morning. Drinking our coffee knowing that we can laze around in our cozy home and play with our little boy. No rush to go to work ect….

  10. Alison Chino says:

    I can’t believe the beauty with which you can talk about cleaning up around the house:

    Like this gem:

    “The crazy, carny month of October has been run out of town on the rails. December’s glittering blizzard is still a mere and distant flurry. In a few weeks, it will be howling at the door, and I am savoring every minute of this calm that precedes it.”


    Reading words like these makes me happy at home. A book and warm spot.


  11. Meg says:

    I’m happiest at home when we are all actually here. My husband’s job takes him out of town a lot so Sunday mornings, pancakes and the anticipation of a lazy day full of football puts a smile on my face.

  12. Audrey says:

    The smell of onions sauteing in the skillet makes me super happy! It means my husband is in the kitchen cooking up something delicious!

  13. Kathleen says:

    I am the same way this time of year. I love nothing more than being home. I am definitely thriving with the power of done theme, tackling reorganizing and purging countless areas in our home. As I cross each item off my list, it feels so damn good. Makes me feel like some of the insurmountable work projects may just be doable, too.

    I love being in my office, getting words on the screen, with my soft twinkle lights giving off their soft glow and my son playing (loudly) on the floor. I love wearing my boot slippers all day, along with my sweats and leggings. I love the way the sunlight falls in through the windows at about 4 p.m. and how there is no pull from the outside world after dinner. And I love cooking with a glass of wine, music playing softly (Christmas music is the best) as the dog follows my every move and my son plays under my feet. (Are you noticing a theme? I don’t know what I will do one day when I look down and there is no one there.)

    Glad you made the best of the two days off. That was a big item to cross off your list.

  14. Beth says:

    Your weekend sounds like my favorite time. I’m the happiest when I can get something crossed off the list, especially if it’s being able to see a floor that has been missing.

  15. Kelly says:

    A few minutes of silence, alone on the porch, with a cup of coffee or wine 🙂

  16. joan says:

    A feeling of comfort, is what makes me happy in my home. This is the place I can be completely myself.

  17. Corrie_Alexa says:

    My 16 year old daughter informed me the other day that all of my clothes should fit into 2 large rubbermaid containers. what? Then my nephew (8) walked into the extra bedroom and said, “I have one word ‘hoarders'”. And…I am about to move. Pray for me. My child says January 1st will see post it notes on all items we aren’t taking to the new house. Your laundry table made me feel slightly better about the work I have cut out for me!

  18. Valerie says:

    It sounds gross, but since you have three boys… I’m happiest when my eight year old says, “Let’s snuggle up and fart all over each other!” It just means that we all snuggle into bed and talk, or don’t talk. Sometimes we watch a DVD, or listen to music. We get very calm and relaxed. Sometimes, when you get REALLY relaxed… yes, you-know-what slips out. Then my two year old looks shocked and delighted, and starts the howling laughter. I love it.

  19. […] my front porch makeover I was so proud of last fall, and what I learned about getting unstuck by starting with new paint […]

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