Happiness Reset Sphere #5: Home

For the reasons why I decided to put myself through a happiness boot camp, see here. For the other four spheres in my boot camp, Parenthood, Marriage, Work, and Self, see here, here, here, and here.

It was readily apparent that I needed Home to be one of my spheres. After all, given I’m a SAHM at the moment, I spend a LOT of time at home. Probably too much time. I almost made one of my resolutions “get outside every day” but couldn’t decide whether to put it in Self or Home or Parenthood (since, by far, my worst days with E. are ones where we don’t get out). In the end, I decided it should just be an unofficial resolution, because it is normally something I follow without much thought. We were just cooped up a bit too often this winter. I should be all right now that we’re moving into spring. It’s hard to drag a preschooler outside when it’s -30 something with the windchill and we don’t own a car. It’s not exactly fun to play outside, and a bracing walk puts you in danger of frostbite before you’ve made it around the block.

My three resolutions for HOME are:

  • Tackle a Nagging Task in 15 Minutes a Day
  • Make Time for the Cats
  • Clear Clutter Twice a Month

Tackle a Nagging Task in 15 Minutes a Day
The idea for this resolution came from Rubin in her book Happier at Home, and I’ve picked exactly the same task that she did: organizing our photos.

I have this huge photo album that takes me right up to when I graduated from my Master’s degree in 2004.

And I have NOTHING organized beyond that.

It is a huge source of continual nagging stress in my life, because I love photography, and I love taking photos, and even though I am very careful to back them all up in multiple places (laptop, external hard drive, and Dropbox), I hate the fact that we have no albums to flip through, especially now that E. is so interested in photos.

I want to make photo books instead of making prints to put in albums. I’ve downloaded the software for Blurb, and I used it last year to make a small photo book for E. of our cottage vacation. So I know how to use it.

I also know exactly how I would divide up the time since E. was born: one photo book for his first two years, with his monthly letters from this blog included (or possibly two books, one for each year, if the book became unmanageably large). One photo book for our four months across the pond in 2013 (which conveniently started right when he turned two). And one photo book for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014. And then I’d be into a pattern of annual books.

Every time I started to think about this, I’d get overwhelmed. So it was a great relief for me to read that Rubin had the exact same problems. She inspired me to give this approach a try. Even if it takes me the next five months to do one book, that’s still one more book than I would have done otherwise. And hopefully it will be faster than that once I get going.

I’ve actually started with a slightly different aspect of the same project. For the last four days, I’ve spent my 15 minutes working on E.’s baby book.

E. embarrassed me into actually starting to fill it in when I gave him my old silver piggy bank. He wanted to know where it had come from, and I thought it was a christening present, but when I got out my baby book I didn’t have a list of gifts from that occasion.

E. then asked if HE had a baby book and I had to admit that, yes,  he did, and it was in the closet in my study, and I had never filled it in.

Not one word.

(You will remember that this is the baby book of my child who is turning FOUR next month.)

It’s not as disastrous as it sounds, however, because I kept a journal for his first two years where I wrote down (with dates) anything new or interesting that he did/said. Plus I have his letters I wrote in this blog.

I can certainly fill out the book at any time, which is probably why I’ve never done it. I knew the information wasn’t going to be lost to the haze of memory.

But now that E. is curious about it, I’ve been galvanized to get it done.

Make Time for the Cats
Our poor cats.

Once they were cosseted, spoiled, adored.

Then we had E., and for months (years) I couldn’t even stand to have them requesting attention. They’d appear after he’d gone to bed, and the playful one would want to play, and the clingy one would want to sit on my lap, and all I would want was a few minutes to myself with no one making demands.

Things are better now, obviously, but E. still gives them a hard time on occasion, and they do often still keep to themselves during the day when he’s around. So when they appear, and I’m tired after a long day, I’m trying to remember to brush the one who likes to be brushed, and cuddle with them when they seek me out.

They’re not young anymore, and they deserve more time than I’ve been giving them.

Clear Clutter Twice a Month
I had trouble figuring out what to say for this resolution. I knew I wanted it to be about clutter, and getting rid of it, but I wasn’t sure how to phrase it. Tackling clutter every day, or even every week, seemed to be too much. Our house is relatively tidy most of the time- we don’t have a lot of excess stuff floating around. But we do have some problem areas, namely the two storage cupboards in the basement (which I have wanted to clean out for probably a year now- I hate how chaotic they are). And the garden shed. And there are drawers and places to go through, and things I have set aside for donation but haven’t donated yet, etc. etc.

To be honest, if I deal with the two storage closets over the next five months, I will be thrilled. I keep putting them off because they are full of baby stuff and I’m not sure whether I should be getting rid of it. But I think I need to just unpack the entire closet, separate out the baby stuff, deal with the rest of it, put it back in an orderly fashion, and keep the baby stuff out in the basement until it becomes clearer whether I can get rid of it all.

Getting those two closets sorted would make a huge difference in my residual stress levels.

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