Monday, March 28, 2016

What Do You Need?

Lately I have been asking myself this question: what do you need to feel good during the daily grind of life? 

This is so helpful and clarifying.  Sort of like my delineation of my "Happy at Home Essentials" but dealing with smaller details--the tiny, seemingly inconsequential things that actually feel big to me when they are undone, not addressed, or otherwise messed-up. 

As I move through each day I notice what bothers me...and what does not. (And the answer to this question cannot be "everything." That was my answer to this question for a long time.) My philosophy is that I need to notice the things that I really need to have done in order to feel sane, balanced, and optimistic, and then I need to take responsibility to do these things myself or help others help me (such as asking my children or my spouse to help with something, but not requiring them to take primary responsibility for it). In other words: I do not expect other people to meet my needs. As a result, I am careful to identify what is a preference and what is truly a need for me.

*Math and piano practice.  In terms of homeschooling, I am comfortable with lots of flexibility in terms of implementation and execution.  Making math and piano practice the spine of our school days helps me feel more creative with the other subjects we study.

*A small, carefully-attended wardrobe. I love having a carefully-selected wardrobe of clothes so that when I open my closet, I am not puzzling or stressing over what to wear (the feeling of "a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear" is a bad feeling for me).  With fewer clothes, it's easier to know when I need to do laundry, which items are wearing out and need to be replaced, and what types of maintenance each item needs. 

*Watered plants.  I like to think I am caring for my plants; it just makes me feel good.

*Time in the morning to get fully dressed and have decent hair.  I don't even always do this before the children get up--but I do need about 15 minutes to myself for this.  (When my children were babies/toddlers, I almost never had this!  And I accepted it as that season of life!)

*Caller ID and voicemail. We use a landline as our primary phone, and I screen my calls.  I do not answer the phone whenever it rings.

*Full water in the pet's bowls.  I do not like it when I walk into the bathroom and see that our dog's bowl is empty or even close to empty. Having a full bowl of fresh water makes me feel like I'm doing a good job.

*Tidy bathrooms.  Just a quick tidy and wipe-down daily.  I feel cranky and unsettled when a bathroom is gross. They aren't spotless--they are just neat and clean and sanitary enough.

*Made beds.  Even if a child's room looks like a toy tornado hit, if the bed is made I feel alright.

*Fresh air and light. I open the house up every day and let the breezes circulate air.  Even in winter, I crack a couple of windows for a couple of hours.  

*A clean litter box for the cat.  Enough said.

*A plan for the day and for the week. A flexible to-do list (on paper!) and routine for each day gives me peace and encouragement. I am not a strict scheduler, but I also like to know what to expect and when!  I also like to have a solid plan for each week (a basic outline of dinner options, a grip on when we will have meetings, lessons, classes, outings, etc., a basic idea of our school goals, etc).  I implement this with flexibility, but I take the time each week to have a solid grasp on what needs to be done and what my goals are. 

*Staying on top of the kitchen as best I can--not just in terms of cleaning and keeping the fridge organized (I recently re-organized the refrigerator and...labeled it and that has been such a game-changer!), but also in terms of having a well-stocked pantry, clean aprons, and a healthy supply of clean dishtowels.  For some reason a well-stocked dishtowel drawer makes me feel cared-for and happy!

What things do not stress me or bother me?  Smudgy windows (I used to clean them every I happily wipe them down whenever I start to notice them)....stacks of books (as long as I basically know where all the books are, I don't care if they are in stacks on the coffee table or on someone's bed).....fingerprints on my stainless steel fridge (I wipe it down every week or two, and that's enough).....dirty laundry (as long as it is in the hampers, and not on the floor, I know it will get done!)....stacks of folded clean clothes ready to be put away (it'll get done!)......scattered weeds in the garden or flower beds (as long as I have flowers blooming, I pull weeds when I can and ignore it otherwise) or materials left out for a "project" or involved play activity (I see these as signs of a creative life).

All of this is quite unique to each person and each season of life, but I encourage you to ask yourself what you need (even if the needs are seemingly minor--it's a nice act of kindness to yourself to identify your minor needs) and how you can order your time and life to make it all work.  


  1. Goodness me Polly, with the exception of the first item -- for obvious reasons -- our lists are so similar!

  2. I love your list Polly! Although I have to add that I hate caller id and try my best to not look at it when I answer the phone. I like to be surprised, but unfortunately it is often telemarketers that I have to disappoint.

  3. Oh, this is so good! I love reading your blog; so much encouragement and inspiration here. This post has got me thinking about my must-dos and my need-to-haves, and I wish we lived on the same side of the country at least, so we could compare notes in person! :)