Ahh, home sweet home.
I was thinking this morning about my love of decorating our home, and how it might relate to my Postpartum Depression. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve ALWAYS been one to rearrange the furniture and search out great accessories, etc… but my interest in all things domestic seems to have deepened in the last few years, and I can’t help but wonder why.
I think it all comes down to a few things; my PPD, my job as a SAHM, and the simple fact that I do NOT love this house or its lack of storage and open living space. Those three things seem to have culminated in a perfect storm, if you will, and have sent me on a pretty serious mission as of late. As an at-home mom, I spend more than just the majority of my time in this house. If things are amiss or not functioning efficiently, it’s going to affect me first and foremost.
Some days I feel like my entire life centres around caring for my kids and trying to get this house in its best possible state – but I guess that IS what my life is about, and I like that. I know that my husband thinks that the house stuff is more “busy work”… something to keep me occupied and a coping mechanism for the depression, but it’s more than that. I honestly think that this house has actually contributed to my state of mind over the (almost) five years that we’ve been here, and not in a positive way. When we moved in, it was just me, the husband (to-be at the time) and my daughter who was four. A cozy, three bedroom, 1500 square foot house is more than enough for the little family that we were, but now we are a family of five with three kids, two pets, and a WHOLE lot of toys, books, soccer equipment, shoes, coats and clothing – and this house seriously lacks in the storage department.
Feeling like I spend every day cleaning, sorting and organizing, only to turn around and have the place look like I’ve accomplished NOTHING is pretty disheartening. Then my husband comes home and I can see that he thinks I’ve been watching HGTV and drinking coffee all day.* It’s exhausting, it’s endless, and let’s face it – it’s ugly. The life of a SAHM is nothing to glamorize. We of course have the best job in the world, but I am basically a Zoo Keeper – let’s not sugar coat things. I clean, feed, handle poo, ensure medical care when necessary and maintain a safe and optimal environment for my animals to grow and thrive. I might not charge admission, but I’ve considered it.
In saying all of this, my house is my world and I mean that quite literally. I want it to be pretty, functional, warm and efficient. I spend a large part of every day looking around and wondering, examining, imagining what I could do/add/change/remove/build/paint/rearrange to make it better, nicer, and a place that I enjoy being in just a little bit more.
The centre of the problem is the lack of storage. Being about 70 years old, this house is NOT giving me what I need in terms of what to PUT stuff. There is a tiny front hall closet, zero linen closet (our fault, more on that later), and each of the three bedrooms has small closet. Thankfully we have a basement and an attic where we keep much of what we don’t use on a day to day basis, but when we do need something it’s extremely inconvenient to retrieve said item. (Particularly if it’s in the attic, because the stairs leading to it are in the baby’s room and Murphy’s Law dictates that we will most certainly need the item while she is sleeping.) So while that kind of storage works just fine for things like Christmas decorations and off-season clothing, it’s not so great for board games, toys, towels, baking and serving dishes, etc… things that we might not use every day but would like to still have within arm’s reach.
Seriously… please tell me how a family of five is supposed to work with this?!?
This, my friends, is the predicament.
On the flip side of this, I love an open, clean home. One that isn’t cluttered with tons of furniture and is easy to walk through with lots of floor space for the kids to play. So trying to find a balance between creating lots of functional storage and keeping the place feeling airy and clean has not been easy. However I think I am slowly making my way there, and in the process I’ve felt a bit of the fog of my PPD lifting. Walking into a room and seeing things in their place seriously has a calming effect on me – is that weird? LOL.
The thing is, working in the home I don’t ever feel like my job is really DONE, and I think it’s important to have that moment in your day. You need to look around and think, “Okay… finished.” When the place is a mess and I can’t put things away because there just no place to PUT them, I don’t ever feel like my day is done. It was a nice feeling back in my office days when I would survey my desk and pack up for the day. Work complete, items put back where they belong, keys, purse, lights off, door closed – done.
It doesn’t happen anymore.
Not having a break (physical or mental) from work is going to eventually take a toll on anyone, and when you add to that a serious lack of sleep and very little quality time with your partner? Well – it’s not a recipe for any dish that I care to try, let me tell ya.
So what does it all mean? I’m not sure. I just know that working on this home is a positive thing – both for myself and my family. Other than the occasional hit that the bank account takes, it’s really a win/win situation. I am happy when I’m working. Working on this house is a hobby that I enjoy, and it gives me a real sense of productivity that I’ve been lacking since staying at home. The family benefits because a) mom is happier (let’s face it, if mama ain’t happy ain’t NOBODY happy), and b) they have a nicer, cleaner, better place to spend their time! To be honest, my passion for Kijiji, Goodwill, and maybe even a little “dumpster diving” here and there means that my husband honestly can’t even complain too much about the outflow of cash on my projects. If anything, it’s that I just get working on too many things at once, which often results in a whole bunch of nothing getting done until I straighten out my priorities and focus – which I eventually manage to do.
I have lots planned for this house, and while it’s to prepare it for an eventual sale and not so much for my own enjoyment, I still find happiness in the journey and it definitely adds something to my life that’s been missing. Some people take up running or see a therapist… but for now, all I want is one little corner of the world that I can shape and mold into something that I can be proud of.
Those are some words to live by, right there…
*Don’t get me wrong, this DEFINITELY happens, just not every day… and let’s just say that the Xbox isn’t exactly collecting dust, if you know what I mean.