*Disclaimer* In case you dropped by looking for fun, crafty, Valentine's Day posts...a word of warning...you will be sorely disappointed. No felt, fabric, or glue stick crafts in this series! But, if you are looking for 500,000 different ways to say "I Love You" with pipe cleaners, pink and red M&Ms or anything burlap visit me here.
So, with that out of the way, let's get back to the purpose of this series of blog posts...exploring different opportunities to show your family "I Love You".
14 Ways to Show Your Family "I Love You"
#2 Making our Homes Warm, Inviting, and Fun
Piggybacking on #1 Making Your Home a Safe Haven , we also need to create warm, inviting spaces that are fun and welcoming as well as Catholic and/or Christian in nature.
Our homes should reflect who we are and what we value...even more importantly...WHO we value!
Rooms, especially public living spaces (i.e. family rooms, kitchens, mud rooms, etc.) should be neat and tidy, yet comfortable enough to be lived in. Rather than follow any one particular decorator or decorating style, use what you have, but only what you love! Use baskets to hide the "mess"! Let's face it...life is messy...fun, but messy! Coffee tables with baskets or drawers to hide remotes and magazines...wicker baskets contain dog toys or toddler favorites...storage containers to put school work, library books, DVDs/CDs, etc. all help to maintain a sense of calm and order to public living spaces.
Furniture that is functional but easy on the eyes is helpful too for creating a sense of warmth! (Seriously, if your husband's grandfather's green crushed velvet chair
*ahem* hurts both your eyes and your sensibilities
compromise...slipcover it or put in the basement! Life is too short to
live with ugly!) Be prepared for dirt and spills! If you love the look of all white furniture or the shabby chic look, but all means style your home that way. But know this...little ones track in dirt, bugs, leaves, grass, etc....especially if you allow them to truly be little boys (and girls!). If you want to have that cottage-style look in your public spaces be prepared to launder slipcovers, spot treat grape juice stains, and mop up popsicle drips from the hardwoods at least once a day!
Our private spaces should be beautiful too...perhaps even more so! Nothing drives me more nuts than when I hear my girlfriends make excuses as to why their master bedrooms are the dumping grounds for the rest of the house! Ladies, whether you work outside the home or not, do you and your spouse not deserve to retire for the evening to a place of beauty???!!! Again, one need not spend hundreds of dollars on designer label bedding to achieve a "beautiful" look. Simple bed linens from Bed, Bath & Beyond or Target can be saved up for and then purchased to add a touch of beauty to the bedroom. Once a week, clear off those bedside tables and dresser tops! If you have carpet, run the vacuum once a week. And ,we have a family rule where the kiddos have to gather and dispose of any "toys" that have migrated to our Master Bedroom each night!. How does that happen?!!!
At bedtime, or right before dinner, we also ask our littles to pick up their rooms (a much bigger task for them in the summer when they have all day to play). What I have noticed is that when our daughter has a friend over and her room is in shambles, her friend is much less likely to play respectfully with her things than when her room is tidy and picked up! My boys also seem to be much gentler on toys when they can see what they own and where it belongs.
Our homes should also be inviting to both those on the outside and those that live on the inside. Turn the TV off and play classical or soft-listening music in the background. Light a few candles or use candle warmers. My upstairs bathrooms may get away from me at times, but I make it my mission to always have the downstairs half-bath ready for public use...toilet bowl is swished daily...toilet paper is plentiful (is there nothing worse than running out of toilet paper at someone else's house?!)...and hand towel is replaced daily.
Windex those windows...open the blinds...pull back the window treatments...let the sunshine and Mother Nature in! We love to bird watch and I like to keep a collection of bird books at the ready to help my children identify new birds in our trees. Even my father has joined in a time or two while visiting and catching a glimpse of an unusual feathered friend!
Finally, about once a month, I literally wipe down my front door and sweep the front porch and welcome mat. Dust accumulates, even in the winter, and nothing says "sad" more that a dirty front door! Hang a welcoming wreath and in spring/summer/fall place a small pot of annuals on the porch. Again, you don't need to spend a lot of money to say "Welcome, we love living here and hope you feel loved too!"
FUN As my children are growing up and peers are entering their sphere of influence, my husband and I have decided that we want our children and their friends to prefer to play over here! Not saying that we don't allow our children to venture to others' homes every once in a while, but our preference is that they bring friends over here where computers and televisions are not allowed in bedrooms, doors remain open, and mom or dad is always in earshot! One way to do that is by providing FOOD! Yes, it can get expensive, but I would rather dole out applesauce cups and graham crackers over hugs and tears because my daughter or son was exposed to something unwittingly at another's expense!
We have also begun to stock up on board games (they go on sale around the holidays) and art supplies so that the kids have something to "do". My kids are still at that age where they also like to dress up so Mary Catherine's ballet recital costumes and Benjamin's Halloween costumes get recycled to the dress up bins in the basement!
Finally, my husband and I often encourage the kids to head outside...even in the Kansas cold! Sure they might not be able to stay out all that long in the sweltering heat of summer or the frigid subzero temps of winter, but a few minutes of fresh air and then a Popsicle or hot cocoa does wonders for their physical and emotional development.
Last, but certainly not least, I mentioned that our homes should have a Catholic and/or Christian feeling tone to them as well. What did I mean by that??? Only that if you are a practicing Catholic or Protestant, or if you practice Judaism, than allow God to be part of your home decor!
I particularly love this painted sign...I'm considering ordering it in vinyl to place on a kitchen wall...
But, I also enjoy seeing little touches of grace throughout my house and the homes of friends and relatives. I recently read a book that suggested having Rosaries scattered throughout the house where people sit and gather. The author went on to say that she found it most calming and even witnessed non-Catholics fingering the beads and experiencing a sense of peace! How incredible an experience for our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ to experience.
Below...a tiny display by our front door for all to see who enter or exit our home.
My husband's bible given to him on his Confirmation
You can often find holy medals as well as finger/bracelet Rosaries around our home....
A crucifix over every bedroom door (missing our palms from Palm Sunday a year ago...we left them in St. Louis while visiting family). :(
And finally, a small display of "reading material" that you will find next to armchairs and bedside tables...
I hope that I was able to give you some food for thought as to ways to make your home not only a safe haven, but warm, inviting and reflective of a woman raising a family and living a life dedicated to Christ. As we enter the Lenten season, why not take the opportunity to pare down (clutter grows, no?!) and decorate liturgically with the children in preparation for Easter?