I want to start this section (your home) by sharing that one of the most powerful moments early in my autistic son’s therapy was when we were both really revved up during an appointment, which is to say we were completely operating from our central squirrel brains. We had been in this space for more than a week and had just showed up to our appointment pretty desperate.
Our therapist taught me about calming from the outside in.
"If his home and school environment are clean and organized, his mind can be calmer."
I couldn’t necessarily do anything about his school environment, but I definitely dove into my home to declutter, organize, clean, and maintain a clean and organized space for all of us. What a difference! I was shocked at how I felt after I cleared the clutter and cleaned the entire house.
I’ve found this strategy to be incredibly powerful and effective, and I’ve worked hard to continue creating a minimal, clean, joyful, and efficient home environment.
I made some immediate changes after watching all of the episodes of Queer Eye, and I hope they help you on your way to peace and calm.
7 steps for a loving, comfortable home you’re happy to live in
Following is the step-by-step process I followed for creating a loving, comfortable home. I think you’ll absolutely benefit from these steps and hopefully your entire family will feel calmer and more peaceful.
First, start with a clean house.
Cleaning your house can be paralyzing if you’ve not been taught how to clean before or if you weren’t raised in a clean home. If this isn’t your forte (yet), I highly recommend having a local cleaning company come in for one full cleaning, or regularly if you can afford it. I had a once-a-month cleaning person not long ago and I felt like such a queen when I arrived home.
Next, I recommend that you work on your least favorite room.
In my case, this is my downstairs bathroom. It has a blotchy orange paint job, a warped floor in one corner, and . . . the cat pan is in there. Triple yuck!
I’ve chosen the new paint color (I think it will be Peek-a-Blue from Behr) and since I’m an artist, I’ve decided to do something like this, but in the style of a tree with egg-shaped owls. I’m super excited to get this done!
The trick here is making a plan to get it done and sticking with it. Home decor changes can be expensive and time-consuming. I’ve seen the pay off to feeling better, though, so I absolutely suggest you make the continued effort.
After that, working on the following tasks on a regular basis will surely keep you on track:
- Touch up rooms in your home that have paint chips or are dingy or dirty looking.
- Clean your baseboards and touch them up as needed.
- Change light bulbs that are burnt out.
- Declutter a drawer (or two). This is one of the fastest ways to feel better . . . weird, right? Fast and free though!
- Move the furniture around in a room where you’re not totally happy.
- Replace ragged furniture with new pieces that you love. I’m a huge fan of Habitat for Humanity if you have one near you, but whatever your budget, be sure to find pieces that you love.
- Walk around the exterior of your home and patio (I try to do this once a week) to see what might need to be moved, thrown away, cleaned, or even redone.
Note: I got approved to repaint the shutters on my home because they just didn’t look pleasing to me anymore, so it’s these little touch ups that really help our brains feel calmer.
- Buy easy to care for houseplants and place them in rooms where you don’t feel so good.
Plants are incredible space cleaners, and I feel like they bring joy and accountability as you keep them alive with just a little water. 🙂
Mostly, just keep at it. I really believe that our home environments can bring more peace and calm to our families. The effort is worth it.
I also want to share the success I’ve seen in my own children (especially my son on the spectrum) when it comes to caring for our home.
4 steps in helping your children make healthy choices now to create their successful futures
Here are four things I’ve tasked my children with now to help create more successful experiences later in life (hopefully anyway):
- Have your child help with the cleaning at their maturity and ability level each day.
Michael does the following each day:
~ Cleans up the living room
~ Cleans out the three cat pans
~ Practices his bass guitar
~ Completes any homework
~ Packs his lunch for school
~ Does his grooming chores each day
~ Anything else that needs done around the house. That might seem like a lot, but once a pattern is created, it gets done with ease and grace and not a lot of complaining after the hard work of diligent follow-up is done.
- Ask your children what color they’d like their bedroom and paint at least one wall that color (we ended up with a pretty shocking orange once, so I counterbalanced it with a calming yellow).
- Let them pick out their own furniture if you have the resources for that. Michael’s favorite desk was $40 from Habitat for Humanity.
- Ask them if there’s anything in the house they think they’d like to see cleaned up or changed. Help them accomplish any reasonable tasks they mention.
- I just discovered a fabulous new resource that can help with this! Check out self-sufficient KIDS and see if her free giveaway helps with your children and their chores.
Owning our space and allowing our kids to choose their own items to live helps to create a healthy lifetime of autonomy in my opinion.
I’ve also heard that our home needs to be a constant hobby that we invest time and money into. I don’t know where I heard this sage piece of advice, but I agree with it wholeheartedly . . . as much as I agree with creating an organized and clean home environment for a calmer brain experience.
Whether you’re in a one-bedroom apartment or a million-dollar mansion, I feel it’s our responsibility to care for our small spot here on planet Earth.
My favorite resource for maintaining a clean and clutter-free home is Flylady.net. I’ve purchased several of her products and have loved each one of them. And I feel that the cleaning needs to include baseboards, blinds, light fixtures, dusting furniture, etc.
I love Melissa at Clean My Space on YouTube!
The Minimalists are great!
Please share any resources you have below because I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few.
So much love always,