Making the bed

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Sometimes, after a long day at work, working at Vanessa’s, or home with the kids (depending on the day of the week!), I’ll get dinner done, have the kids up in bed “sleeping”, and then I come back down the steps…..  to something much like the following disaster zone(s).

Toys toys everywhere…. sometimes I have the kids clean them up before bed, but today I forgot to. Yuck.

Dinner plates still on table, along with massive piles of papers and miscellaneous junk.

Food, mail, dishes from dinner, etc. And a bag of frozen peas I forgot to put back into the freezer hours ago. This is all from one day, seriously. Plus a dishwasher full of clean dishes that need to be put away before I can then re-load it in a never-ending cycle.

This corner makes me crazy…. behold a confusing mix of all 3 hampers for our entire family, some baskets of my clean clothes, some baskets of dirty clothes, and my super-messy closet with shoes falling out of. Sigh.

So I’m not going to lie, I’m already exhausted by the time I am taking stock of this daily state of affairs, and the last thing I want to do is anything at all to remedy this chaos. And mind you, this is not even the (not pictured) *eternally* messy spots in my house, but just the daily accumulation of mess on the “living” surfaces of our house.

BUT THEN, I turn around in my bedroom and see……  this glorious sight:

The beauty! The cleanliness! The order! The lack of kid stuffs! (Generally speaking, as there is likely a car or two shoved under these covers by the kiddos…)

Not *every* day, but ALMOST every day, I make a point to make our bed. Why? Because I swear I read in some book or article a while ago, that making the bed every day is a preventative measure against depression. It was something about the act of doing one thing, one single concrete thing that is a check off the to-do list, no matter how small, that resonates in your body and mind as a success, and helps to keep the “good” feelings flowing rather than the “bad”. Just DOING SOMETHING, anything, even when you don’t know what to do, is helping yourself dig out, push on, work through it.

The fact that I can’t find this source any more doesn’t matter, and if this fact is true or not doesn’t really matter either….  it does work for me. After getting down about all the other places I showed here, wanting nothing more than to curl up after an already-long day where I’ve felt like a failure on many occasions, my bed says to me “It’s ok! Look at me! You took the time to do this early this morning, go you! You can do all that other stuff too, and you’ll be ok, really.”

So off I go, for that reason alone, on the merits of some depression study I might have made up…  and in an attempt to proactively preserve the precarious balance in my life, I force myself to make a quick pass at those mess places until they are far from perfect, but indeed acceptable. 30 minutes later the house now looks something like this:

Ahh, that’s much better. It almost looks like a grown-up house.

The pile(s) will have to be tackled another day, but at least there is room for the kids to eat breakfast in the morning. Going to call this one a success.

Dishwasher un- and re-loaded and running, counter cleared (enough). Wa-hoooo!

Ok, so THIS one is now worse; I have added some crusty bibs I cleaned out of the kitchen to the hamper, and closing my mirrored closet door has hidden the spilling shoes but now reflected Mt. Clothing in a manner that seems to double its size.  Eh, you can’t win ’em all.

These are crazy days, but I know they won’t run at this pace forever. Echoing Christina’s last post, it feels somehow ok that piles are left piled and clothes washed every 3 weeks instead of every weekend. (Co-workers, this may explain some of the bizarre outfits I have worn around the office as of late!) It still feels a certain sort of “living sincerely” to say, This is where I am now, and in this current scenario, THIS represents enough.

Those days when I do SOMETHING, certainly not everything, but something tangible or visible none the less, I feel alright with the rest, the unfinished and the chaotic and the unclear, that I can’t control or change. I haven’t cured Vanessa, my house is not even remotely “company ready” (although I just posted all these pics for the world to see, so I’m not sure that’s a valid expression any more!), and I’m still tired and frustrated and sad and worried and scared. I haven’t worked against any long-term projects, packed healthy snacks for my kids, gotten any exercise time in, watered the plants, clipped coupons, done yoga, or any of the other 8 bazillion things that requires more time and energy than I have.

However, I MADE THE BED, and that somehow is a message to my brain that everything is going to be ok. This is not a complicated cure-all, or the way to find true happiness in life. But it is a surviving, a making-it-through-another-day, a way to sort of autopilot through built-in little successes until life goes to a place where I can focus on the larger things again and work through them. For me, it fits with this part of the pledge:

Accepting the reality that there are circumstances I cannot change,
I will seize my power to actively change that which I can control
with hope and creativity.

They say your house/space is a reflection of yourself…  Mine definitely is.  I am the junky piles, imperfect and annoying and a reminder that life is hard, crazy, and messy. I am also my bed, a serene and hopeful haven in the midst of the chaos. I am tired, I am worn down, but I am also HOPEFUL. Living sincerely doesn’t mean always being happy, always having boundless energy and enthusiasm, or even always succeeding. It’s also struggling, failing, crying, feeling defeated…. and still keeping on, with hope. Some days seem like too much. But even on those days, I make the bed, and I know I will be ok.


  1. Kipp Burgoyne says:

    Jessica, I’d never read anything about making beds and depression, but I made a promise to myself a long time ago. I decided that if I could get out of bed and make it immediately (and I mean first thing before bathroom or dressing), then I was okay. The day that I looked back over my shoulder as I left the room and the bed was not made, I’d seek help. I’m happy to say, so far so good. Kipp

    • Jessica says:

      Kipp, I hadn’t thought before about using the making of the bed as not just an action, but also a measure – but I am so going to now! It does resonate with me, too, that if I am using this basic task as a guaranteed success in my day, and I am unable to bring myself to do it, I’m likely in a place of needing help. It actually feels good to have that sort of “alarm” ready to go off if needed. Thanks for sharing your approach!

  2. Don Arney says:

    Thank you for this. It’s so easy to get diverted from the path you want to be on by all that goes on around us. I think it’s called “life.”
    While my own circumstances are not nearly as much of a conflagration as yours (and your family’s), one of the truisms in life is that whatever is troubling one follows Boyle’s Law.
    And the bed-making idea is a pretty sound one – building daily habits, whether it’s making the bed,exercising or washing dishes are simple ways to help keep one’s sanity or least to have one point of stability.

    • Jessica says:

      Don, I like that you just referenced Boyle’s Law! I’ve said or thought so many times recently that I am NOT AT ALL on top of my game these days (making horrible typos left and right, missing connections between things, forgetting, etc.)…. my mental volume has clearly gone down as the life pressure gone up. :P Routines and habit are something I’m working on developing better for myself, as historically I’m great at coming up with new ideas and starting new things, and then I fizzle out before they can become any sort of routine. I’m starting small here with making the bed, and hope to add exercise as the next since it has so much benefit beyond just the routine it provides.

      Your choice of words with “conflagration” also just spawned another blog post idea in my head, why thanks! Thinking about exploring the ways we inevitably compare our struggles and pains with that of others (even though it’s impossible to really judge that), and probably put more weight around that judgement than it really should get. Sigh, if only I could just think about things for a living! ;)

  3. Kari says:

    My bedroom is the room that I always clean last! Your post has made me rethink my room. There are clothes everywhere, dust, kids toys and always a kid or two laying on the floor or bed. I think my bedroom is going to need a makeover! I will take before and after photos:)

    Your strength and love inspires me. The laundry, the messes, and the paperwork will always be waiting for you. It never goes away. Once you get catch up, the mailman comes, the next meal arrives, and a new pile of laundry is made. Do what you can. It is only a house. The love and the people make it a home. I am thinking of you and your sister everyday!

  4. Jen Mccloskey says:

    Great post Jess! I’m not even close to the level of busy/life stress that you are, and my house looks the same on most days! Add in the dog chewing up stuff and getting brownie mix all over the carpet to complicate matters, and that’s us! I think my ‘making the bed’ is probably keeping our kitchen island clear. Even if it’s just taking all the clutter from the island and putting it on the other counter… if that island is clear, I just feel so much better about that nice, clean, uncluttered spot :)

  5. Christy says:

    Making our bed every morning (although I have not been doing it the last couple of days so thanks for the reminder) is one thing we just started doing within the past year. Our house totally looks like your 1st set of pictures most days(who am I kidding every day)and I have to completely agree that seeing that bed made makes you feel so much better and actually somewhat organized even if it is one part of your life.

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