Home management principle number two: what does the principle of comfort involve?
This post is the second in a series of twelve posts expanding a little bit on what each of the 12 Principles of Home Management involve. You can read an overview of the 12 Principles here.
A home should be comfortable, a place you actually want to be. And not just you, as the homemaker, but every member of the household. Comfort involves things like creativity (a dull life isn’t really all that comfortable!), beauty, flexibility, quality, cleanliness, and peacefulness. Perhaps most importantly, it’s the absence of discomfort and distress!
Comfort includes physical comfort as well as mental and emotional comfort.
Comfort of Body and Mind
A comfortable home really involves two very basic things: comfort of body and comfort of mind.
Comfort of body includes things like:
- Not being too hot or cold
- Having beds that are comfortable to sleep in
- Having clothes that fit well (not too tight)
- Not stepping on legos with bare feet (I’ve never tried that but I’ve heard it’s very painful!)
Comfort of mind is about things like:
- Feeling restful and relaxed
- Feeling at peace
- Feeling happy and interested
The reality is that there is a lot of overlap and interaction between the two. For example, if you have an uncomfortable bed that hurts you or that you just can’t find a comfortable, restful position in, you’re not only going to feel physical discomfort and tiredness, you’re also going to feel, maybe, frustration that you can’t sleep or mental tiredness from lack of sleep. You might feel annoyance. During the day, you might not only have a sense of physical tiredness but you may also be irritable or dull from lack of sleep.
Conversely, if you are experience anxiety or stress, that might cause you to tense up until your back or shoulders hurt, or you get a tension headache. You might lose sleep as a result of worry. You might be so caught up in the issues that are going on in your home that you forget to or neglect to take care of yourself physically (or to take care of someone else) and the result is sickness or at least a lack of “wellness.”
Comfort (or discomfort) of body and mind are not super distinct. After all, our minds and bodies are very closely connected (lol). However, there is a difference. For example, if you stub your toe you feel the pain in your toe. If you’re feeling frustration because you can’t find the tools you need to do what you need to do, you don’t feel that frustration in you hands or feet, or your elbows. It’s very much a mental/emotional feeling.
But again, they are very closely connected. Things often result in either comfort or discomfort that is both physical and mental/emotional. Also, physical comfort or discomfort will affect our mental/emotional comfort level and vice versa.
Creating Comfort and Reducing Discomfort
So now let’s take a brief look at what this home management principle looks like (feels like??) in the home. I like to use the five senses as a basis for evaluating comfort because those senses are, for the most part, how we feel things.
Notice that I said “reducing discomfort.” You can certainly “eliminate” discomfort (which is the word I thought of first!) but I do recognize that on this earth we cannot have homes without discomfort. We can eliminate a lot of discomfort but, of course, we can’t get rid of it all. However, we can create homes that are based on comfort rather than discomfort.
It’s ironic that while I sit here typing this I keep stretching and adjusting my shoulders and neck because I’m not comfortable. I need to work on that! Computer glasses? Better height relationship between chair and desk? I did move my keyboard closer to me and that helped a lot!
Taste applies mostly to the food we eat. I mean, there is medicine, and really bad smells, but mostly it’s about food.
Smell applies to food too! I think smell is mostly about having a home that does not stink. Food does need to smell good but other than that I think that the primary objective is to eliminate bad smells. Making the home smell good, as opposed to just neutral, is a secondary thing. However, if everyone agrees on what smells good (and if you’re using methods that are not toxic or allergy-triggering), making the home smell lovely is a comfort thing also.
This is about two things: comfortable seeing (the ability for everyone to see comfortably) and visual comfort. Comfortable seeing means everyone can comfortably see what they need to (so far as their eyes will permit). For the most part, this comes down to good lighting.
Visual comfort is about what we see and how that affects our comfort. When you look around you from any point in your home how do you feel? Do you feel tired, agitated, anxious, guilty, overwhelmed? Or do you feel content, happy, peaceful, and calm? Do certain things lift your mood or depress your mood? Does your home, visually speaking, feel like home? Do you feel better in certain types of environments? Happier, calmer, more energetic? Are you more productive under certain conditions (like when your home is more clean and less cluttered)?
Dirt and clutter are really not helpful to anyone but when it comes to decorating style, not everyone is the same. A room decorated in a particular style might be depressing to one person and peaceful to another. A room that looks pretty to one might feel agitating and cluttered to another. With this in mind, it is important to take every member of the family into consideration (even the kids) when you are arranging and decorating the home. Every room may not be the most comfortable, beautiful room ever for everyone but it should at least be comfortable. Not uncomfortable, or distasteful to the point of “yuck!” This may require compromise. 😉 We have some drastic differences in our household. Tip: That’s a case for using non-drastic decorating styles!
Sound is about dealing with bad, annoying, irritating sounds, like squeaky doors, constant noise, harsh tones of voice. Whatever doesn’t sound good. Obviously, there is noise in a home, but are there sounds in your home that are bothering people (even sub-consciously), that could be improved upon?
Everyone’s sound tolerances and preferences are not the same, so when you evaluate your home for sound, as a home manager, also have the other members of your family evaluate it. That’s probably a good idea for most of the other considerations as well but as a sound-sensitive person I’m really feeling this one!
Feeling: Touch and Skin
Simply put, this is how everything in your home (clothing, furniture, whatever) feels against skin and to your hands when you touch it.
This is kind of like touch but it involves more of your body than just skin to surface contact. Think of it this way: when you sit down in a chair, is it comfortable to your body? When you grab hold of a drawer handle, is it comfortable to hold? When you pick up a fork, is it comfortable to your hand?
Furniture like beds and chairs, and things you hold in your hands (like tools) are probably the two biggest categories of things to consider.
The air we breath and the air around us. So, temperature, humidity, and fresh air.
Functionality of the Home
The functionality of a home can affect our bodies pretty directly (for example, hurting ourselves when we trip over clutter), but I think this consideration is mostly about our minds. A home without a high level of functionality can cause, for example, anxiety (because you forgot to pay a bill that you lost), annoyance (because you can’t find things), frustration (because you don’t have a workspace to do what you need to do), and other negative emotions. It can make you less productive or mentally tired. In can make things take ten times longer that they should (ask me how I know all this!! haha).
A functional home that is orderly, safe, convenient, well-stocked, in good working order, etc, will be much more comfortable mentally and emotionally. I’m looking forward to improving the functionality of our home . . . especially where finding things is concerned.
Because relationships are made up of people, and people cannot be (and should not be) controlled, the home manager can’t “manage” the relationships between the various members of the household like she can manage other things.
I mean, you can’t just take a person to a repair shop to change their behavior like you can take a small appliance to a repair shop to change it’s (malfunctioning) behavior. You can’t fix broken relationships like you can mend a shirt or glue something broken back together. You can’t rearrange thinking like you can rearrange furniture. You can’t clean up someone’s bad attitude like you can clean your house.
However, you can manage your own behavior, and attitudes, and tongue (!), and treatment of other people, and you can also AFFECT the other people in your family, and their relationships and interactions. So, I feel like people, specifically the relationships between them, and their potential to create comfort or discomfort for other members of the household does need to be taken into consideration as you are managing your home.
Health and Well-being
Finally, health and well-being, including physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. In the context of the principle of comfort, this is about the health or ill-health of each member of the family and how that affects comfort. Obviously, if someone is sick or injured they are not as comfortable as they would be otherwise. It’s about maintaining or restoring health so that everyone will be more comfortable, as well as making one who is not well as comfortable as possible while they are sick.
This consideration is about the discomfort that comes from our bodies or minds rather than the discomfort that comes from external sources that we then feel with our bodies or minds. Physically, that’s the difference between your toe hurting because there’s something wrong with your toe and your toe hurting because you just jammed it into the foot of your dresser at high speed. Mentally/emotionally it’s the difference between feeling anxious because that’s the way your brain works and feeling anxious because a friend was just admitted to the hospital.
How comfortable is your home? What can you do to improve it? How will you incorporate this principle into your home management?