I used to love going out and about. I hated being home. At least once a day, I had to get out of the house or I would go crazy.
But then the pandemic hit, and I spent a lot of time at home.
Turns out, my desire to leave the house was entirely due to the fact my home wasn’t very pleasant to be in.
Now that I figured out how to make my home more pleasant, I never want to leave. My home is my sanctuary, and I love being here.
Here are the four habits I introduced during COVID to make sure my home was a joyful, peaceful place to be.
1. Don’t go to bed with a dirty kitchen.
My grandmother lived by this rule, and I always thought she was a little bit nuts, but turns out she was right (as she was about most things).
When you go to bed with a messy kitchen, guess what? You wake up to a messy kitchen.
And I don’t know about you, but that means I start my day off on a bad note. I just hate looking around my house and seeing a mess. For years I told myself I could tune it out, but while I was consciously ignoring it, I was subconsciously internalising the fact that my home was always a mess.
Not going to lie: that made me feel like a bad wife. I know, I know, that’s absurd, but that’s how it felt.
Now, even if the rest of the house is a mess, I strive to make sure the kitchen is always tidy, which is no small feat as I cook constantly.
2. Burn incense throughout the day.
There are a few scents that make my home feel cozy: laundry in the dryer, bread, and incense. While you can’t constantly be doing laundry or baking bread, you can be burning incense, or even using an essential oil diffuser.
I personally love the Potala Incense from Tibet. Potala Incense is handcrafted from medicinal herbs, and it makes my home feel so calm and peaceful, it’s quite frankly amazing.
I love this incense so much that I drive two hours to a small Tibetan import shop once a year to load up. You can get yours here on Tibetan Spirit or on Amazon from Dharma Objects*.
If you’re not an incense person, an essential oil diffuser might be for you. I personally don’t use a diffuser because I have a mold allergy and I need to reduce the moisture in the air in my home, not add to it. A friend of mine is always diffusing a blend of lavender and rosemary in her home, and it smells absolutely divine.
3. Cleaning checklists to stay on top of chores.
I work in food service, and back in the day I ran a cafe. The only way things get done there is with checklists. I printed and laminated checklists for all the recurring projects throughout the business, everything from stocking coffee to making pasta salad.
I plastered these checklists all over the cafe so people would know what needs to be done and how to do it.
Now that I’m managing a home, I use checklists here, too. Frankly, without them, little things around the house that need to get done simply never do.
So my checklists include all the little things that I forget in the course of being a human. Things like baseboards, and the tops of shelves. Dusting off book fronts, that sort of thing.
It also helps with my husband doing the stuff he said he’s going to do, but forgets (and thus we have fewer spats about the chores).
We have this amazing set of Cuisineart stainless steel pots and pans*, and his part of kitchen duty is washing them for me. We have really hard water so, in addition to being washed, the pans need to be rinsed out with white vinegar to prevent hard water build up a couple times a week.
Until I put it on the checklist, he continually forgot to do it, and I’d feel like the awful nagging wife when I ask him about it. Now, it’s on the list, so he just does it, and we don’t have any more arguments.
Want a copy of my checklists? Grab ’em here.
4. No shoes allowed.
In my home: no shoes allowed.
Ok, so this isn’t entirely true because I do have a pair of house shoes that I wear inside, but no shoes that are outside shoes are worn in the house.
And the reason is pretty obvious: I hate doing floors. Even though we splurged and got a robovac* earlier this year that vacuums every day, I still hate having crud on the floor. It just makes our home feel dirty.
So when we moved into our new flat, we made a rule: shoes off.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get my husband to do this. He is known for tracking in pine needles from the big Norway spruce outside the house, but he’s been surprisingly cool with this rule because of his ties to Japanese culture.
In Japan you remove your shoes when you enter a home, and turns out, the reason has to do with floor cleanliness — but not for the reason us Westerners might think where we hate cleaning the floors.
Instead, it’s because of how much time the Japanese used to spend on the floor, eating meals at low tables, and sleeping on futons on a tatami mat. Because of this, it’s considered unhygienic to bring outdoor grime into the interior of your home. (If you’re curious about the whole Japanese shoe situation, there’s a great article here from Japan Horizon.)
With just these few simple changes, my home feels so much better, and I don’t want to escape every day. In fact, I’d rather be home than go anywhere else.
What routines and habits make your home a more pleasant place to be?
Let me know in the comments.