When we make the choice to homeschool, our homes become the center of nearly everything in our lives and our children's lives. Our place of residence is not just where we eat and sleep and hang out. It's where we learn how to work, where we're trained in life skills, where we build character and relationships, where we build our foundation of knowledge, where we share our lives with others . . . etc. Home is not just the hub; it's the spokes and rim—it's pretty much the whole wheel! In light of that, we should strive to create a positive, uplifting atmosphere in our homes.
As wives and mothers—and homeschool moms—we have the blessed privilege and high calling of being the primary creator and instigator of our home atmosphere. If I were to make a list of the kind of atmosphere I would like my home to exude, these are the words I would come up with:
Comforting & Comfortable
Inviting & Warm
That's a tall order. How do we create a home like that—a place where we, our spouse, and our children really like and want to be, and where others are blessed? Let me suggest three ways we can begin to open the windows of our homes to these favorable winds.
Perhaps the most obvious necessity in generating the kind of atmosphere described above is cleanliness. By that, I mean generally tidy and reasonably clean. After all, we live in our homes ALL the time, so we're not trying to create Better Homes and Gardens magazine covers or museum displays that no one can touch. We just want the general feeling of a neat, orderly space. Without that, all other attempts at a peaceful home will be lost in the clutter. As my children can attest, clutter has been a difficult area of life for me to control. It seems to me that this can be especially true with homeschoolers. Our homes are being used for so many different activities and there is no let-up or break. Plus we have the piles of books and papers and art projects, etc., etc. to deal with. Paperwork has always been my bane and continues to be to this day. When things are in a disarray and disorganized, much time is wasted and much frustration is generated—hardly the kind of atmosphere we long for! If our homes and work spaces are not reasonably straight, tension ensues. We feel stressed instead of at rest.
Decor also plays a role in home atmosphere. If overdone, decor can lend itself to clutter. Then our living spaces begin to close in on us and feel too tight. If too sparse, our homes can feel spartan and unwelcoming. In this area, we need to find our balance and allow our personalities to shine through. Everyone's home will be different and reflect different tastes and interests. I love going to other people's homes. It gives me the opportunity to enjoy their style and personality; it helps me get to know them. There are so many ways to express God's beauty. Aesthetics is a gift from God, a primary means of infusing our homes with a positive atmosphere. There's no end to the avenues of creativity we can appreciate and employ.
A third and often-overlooked medium for effecting a calm and lovely home atmosphere is music. Every morning my youngest daughter has taken upon herself to put five CDs into our CD player. Through that means she has filled our home with beautiful music. We listen mostly to classical or classically-styled music because it is uplifting and has been well documented to enhance brain power and to aid in creating order. But we also listen to a variety of musical styles and genres within a certain range. Most of the CDs we listen to are instrumental, but some have words that direct our thoughts to what is true and eternal. Maybe you could start with this: put some of Bach's music in your CD player or add a Bach/Vivaldi station to your Spotify or Pandora playlist.
Overarching all our attempts to achieve a pleasing home atmosphere should be the umbrella of prayer. Pray over your house cleaning and home organization: pray for God's wisdom and creative ideas for those areas that just seem to be constantly getting out of hand. Pray over your home decor: ask God to express His beauty through your home. A simple lit candle can add a calming effect. Pray over the music in your home. Good music can have an immediate peaceful effect. Pray for God to fill your home with His attributes and to enable you to create an atmosphere that breathes of His gracious Presence.
Think through what kind of atmosphere you want to create in your home. How would you like your home described? What are some practical steps you can take to get there?