THE NEXT RIGHT THING – Episode 143
Today I have something fun for us! We are going to talk about our homes – the physical houses that we live in and what we fill it with, but also creating a home and traditions and relationships, and that whole environment.
“Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.”
Have you seen that work for you in your home? Or have you seen that work against you, at times? Maybe the music I am playing in my home “shapes” behavior in a way that doesn’t serve my family. Maybe the way the rooms are laid out affects behaviors negatively. Or maybe the people we have invited into our homes, at times, have affected the environment for the children and then the behavior of the children. I’ve seen that. And maybe there’s some thoughtwork to do around some of those things – maybe our thoughts (T) about the music or about the person (C) in our home are what cause the feelings (F) and the behavior (A) we are seeing.
But, my friends, in our homes, we often have some control over those circumstances (C), right? And if it’s possible to change the circumstance to better serve our family, that is what we are talking about today.
“(It’s about my home) partnering with me to serve our family. And that means it changes with us – not changes in a burdensome way. It has to be flexible. It has to be ready to do whatever I need it to do. Maybe that’s the kids staying home and homeschooling, or maybe that’s having an unexpected guest, or maybe that’s having lots of people at the house, or maybe that’s just having a place for myself where I can be quiet. Our home has to be at the ready to be able to do those things. That is what a high functioning home is for me. And for the home to reflect the seasons, it’s just part of that. I want my home to know that it’s not December.”
So today – remember I said this was going to be fun – we are really going to be talking about our seasons and our senses.
“When I used to decorate my home, the only thing I knew to rely on was visual decor – that was the only tool in my arsenal. I thought if I wanted my house to feel like fall, or if I wanted my house to feel like Christmas, then I need to go to my favorite store and I need to buy stuff that I can set around the house that will signal to us visually. That was all I knew to do. But the problem with when you only rely on visual decor, it fills up a lot of space and your home begins to feel more cluttered.”
That’s why, today, we are looking at ALL the senses: sight, smell, touch, hear, and taste.
Sight: We kind of covered this already. It’s the “stuff” we set up around the house to signal to our family that this holiday or this season is coming up. Because we only ever lived in small apartments in NYC and London until our move here, we came here to our first house with no decorations for any holidays. We couldn’t have stored them, so we made them, every year. And then threw them away at the end of the season, every year. We made an 8 foot tall masking-tape spider web in one apartment. We always make cranberry chains for the Christmas tree. Etc. But “sight” was never the first sense that we turned to, at the turn of the seasons.
Smell: This one, my friends, is probably my favorite. It is also probably the easiest. Probably. I simmer cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peels in the tea kettle much of the winter. But, before even tea-kettle season, I change the soaps in the bathrooms to more Fall scents, and the wallflowers in the front room. It smells like Fall. Even if the sun is out fully, if the leaves are changing, our home smells like Fall.
“Take your cues from creation.”
Taste: Okay. This one might be my favorite as well. Every Fall my children expect pumpkin bread. And not on just one occasion. That is because pumpkin bread signal Fall to me, and I have passed that down to my children. An orange at the bottom of each stocking in winter, right? Fresh greens in spring. BBQ and potato chips in the summer. Watermelon. Fresh cherries. When I go to the shops and bring home fresh cherries, we all know it’s summer time.
Hear: This idea was new to me today: Seasonal playlists. And we are not talking holiday playlists, not Christmas playlists or 4th of July playlists. Seasonal playlists – Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. This one will take more thought for me. What songs make me think of Fall? What songs make me think of Winter? Or Spring? Or Summer?
Touch: Do you know what “touch” item makes me feel Fall and Winter? A rice sock! You take a large ski sock and fill it with a couple cups of rice. Tie to top of the sock, nice and tight, and microwave for three minutes. We own probably 10 of these socks, and we use them, every day, during the colder months of the year. I love me some rice socks!
And we don’t need to have each one of these going on in our homes to signal a season.
“What if the children come home from school and you have three or four things happening, what are they going to say? They’re going to say, ‘Oh, it feels like fall in here, mom. Oh my gosh. It’s fall.’ Without any visual cues because of what they hear, because of what they smell, because what they’re anticipating tasting. So you’ve set the mood without even having to get out any pumpkins, any gourds, any cute fall decor, which we all love, but I have found that if I start with the other senses, first, it takes the burden off of the visual decor. And I still want to add that – I love it. But I don’t need as much to get the feeling that I want.”
Okay. There are some fun things for me to think about, traditions to set in our home. Our home and the raising of our children in our home and the relationships in our home are the most important thing to me, in the world.
And tradition is a powerful way to connect in these relationships, to give identity to members of our family, to intentionally create memories – to become memory architects.
“You have set these traditions that are silent.”