Is your home a refuge for your family? Is it a peaceful place that welcomes each family member at the end of the work or school day? Is your home inviting to friends, making them want to come in, relax, and visit for a while?
If you think homes like this are only found in decorating magazines or wealthy neighborhoods, you're wrong. It doesn't matter if you rent or own, or whether your house is large or small. There are simple things you can do to make your home more "homey" for your family. With a little creativity, any home can be a refuge for its inhabitants.
Fresh flowers add beauty, color and fragrance to your surroundings. Pick some wild flowers or consider growing your own this spring.
Houseplants are not only decorative but they also put oxygen into the air. Experts say they also improve the air quality by removing pollutants.
Don't underestimate the calming effects of soothing music on the whole family. Start a collection of pleasant music that can played softly to lift your spirits and calm frazzled nerves.
Decorate your house with things that represent happiness and good memories: family pictures, special Bible verses, or awards that family members have received. These are constant reminders of what's most important to the family.
Recognize the relaxing effects of candles. Lighted candles promote relaxation and sometimes even romance for Mom and Dad! (Be careful about burning candles if you have small children.)
Find a special spot in the house that you can call your very own. Use this place to read, pray, meditate-whatever brings you peace. Encourage other family members to have their own special spots too.
Set aside 15-30 minutes of "quiet time" each morning or evening to either prepare yourself for the day or unwind and reflect. Remember that your mood can affect the whole family.
Institute a ritual to calm that crazy half-hour after you and your spouse first get home from work. Sip a favorite beverage with the kids, change into your most comfortable clothes, or sit down and chat with the family before starting dinner.
Keep a secret stash of "comfort foods" on hand. For many people, flavored coffees, herbal tea or chocolate does the trick. If you are calm, your calmness will rub off on other family members.
Whenever possible, double recipes and freeze the leftovers. Knowing that a delicious meal is only minutes away makes coming home more enjoyable for everyone, especially the designated family cook.
Make it your goal to have at least one neat room in your house at all times-preferably the one family members see first when they come in the door.
Use the tablecloth and nice china at least one night a week "just because." Why save those things only for special occasions? Another day of life is special occasion enough.
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