I think so.
Were an unschooling family. My Accomplice and I hold living in a peaceful and mutually respectful way, with one another and with our children, as our ideal. That means supporting our kids’ learning in a natural and non-coercicve way.
Natural learning is amazing – and often unpredictable. It’s also not exactly neat and tidy, most of the time. When we’re all immersed in our own varieties of learning and living, things can get chaotic, and the house cluttered with various bits and pieces of assorted projects in various stages of completion.
Also, our kids are growing up. At 11 and 14, their projects, and the consequent clutter, look a lot different than they did when they were younger. Once, it was toddler toys strewn across the lower reached of our landscape, an obstacle course of scattered and exuberant floor play. Now, it’s more likely that every flat surface will be claimed by a shifting variety of books, notes, sculptures, electronic devices, inventions, game pieces, and art supplies..
Sometimes, as we’re going about our lives, we don’t notice that we’ve outgrown the usefulness of a space.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized that our living ro om had been hugely lived in – to the point where there was very little room left in it for any more living. With the cooler weather on its way here in upstate New York, there will be more inside time, and, if our pattern holds, more creative projects.
Our house is small. We need the living room, to allow for the life that will soon be lived there, and the learning that will occur as a natural outgrowth of that living.
The space was in dire need of a Mindful Makeover.
I looked at the room, and considered what each family member is likely to do there. I considered our collection of mostly second-or-greater hand furniture and accessories. I looked at the visible clutter and debris left behind, and I thought about what it would take to make this space embrace us, as we are at this point in our lives.
I suggested a round of changes to the rest of the family (none of us like sudden and unannounced changes to our environment). Everyone was cautiously willing to explore the possibilities. So, last week, while my Accomplice had an extra-long weekend, he moved furniture, and then we both worked on decluttering and prettifying (remember what I said about natural learning? There was LOTS of clutter!).
We’ve got a long way to go before we get to ‘done’ – if there is such a thing, in a family that is in a state of constant growth and maturation. It will take time, feeling how things evolve as we go, stopping sometimes to just relax and enjoy where we are.
But there’s already a palpable difference. Where the kids had been gravitating toward being in their rooms, they’re now spending more time in the living room. So am I. We’re hanging out together, watching shows, talking, and just being there in a space that’s more welcoming than it was a week ago.
Yes…there’s a lot left to do. I’m not ready to share pictures yet, because it’s more of a cocoon or a nest just for us, right now. It’s still cluttered; it’s likely that no one but those of us who live here could see or appreciate the changes. I’m still feeling my way, considering what’s next, and taking suggestions and input from the rest of the family.
I’m doing this mindfully. It’s less about ‘finishing’, and more about finding the blend of order and freedom that allows each of us to use this space, separately or together, in ways that delight us, or allow us to simply relax into being. I’m not looking for a decorating-magazine living room, but one that truly supports our individual brands of living.
It’s a service I can give to myself, and to my beloveds – like doing dishes or the laundry, or chatting with a child who will be older and more grown at the end of that time than the beginning, and who will, almost before I know it, be so grown that he or she is ready to live a life that doesn’t include me on a daily basis.
I call this type of service hometending – because the words that I use to define my life are significant in how I experience it. ‘Hometending’ allows me to think about the business of caring for our home as a means to support mindfully living in ways that nurture, sustain, and delight us.
Do you look at the tending of your home as a service to yourself and your family? Have you truly looked, lately, at your living spaces, to see how they can be made more of what you most value?
I’d love to hear your stories and insights!
For more Mindful Monday, please visit Silver Threading.
Writing this post made me think of this: Watch the whole thing, or start at about 21:53 for the best fountain anywhere….or something…