My good friend Desiree and I have both recently taken trips out of Vermont with our significant others. She and her boyfriend Joe went to Colorado to celebrate her birthday with a backcountry ski trip, and Sawyer and I went down to Philadelphia to search for apartments, jobs, look at university programs, and also to unwind. I mention this because both she and I have similar views on how we want our home to look upon our return home after vacation is over (and both the men couldn’t much care about what we return to, surprisingly). In short, both Desiree and I like to come home to a clean, welcoming apartment rather than a mess left over from a week or so prior.
The answer to the riddle of maintaining a clean apartment while away on vacation is simple: it has to be clean when you leave. I do my tidying after I’ve packed my bags to make sure that no loose ends are left to be packed. It gives me a sense of pride to see my kitchen counter free of flatware, snacks, and general debris and my bathroom sink and toilet bowl immaculately white after a scrub-down, but what really allows me the peace of mind I desire is a made-up bed.
I’m not sure when I took the step from childhood to adulthood when it came to making my bed every morning. I do confess that as a child, adolescent, and young adult in my first years of college, my bed was a haphazard mess of tangled sheets, pummeled pillows, and a comforting stuffed animal thrown to the wayside. Sunrise Spot has always seen a tidy made-up bed when Sawyer and I are up in the morning. The kittens rarely ever disturb the sanctity of the bed, so when I get home after work, the bed is almost always immaculately tucked. It gives me a sense of calm to see my bed undisturbed after a busy day, and it allows a consistency to my daily routine that keeps an orderliness to a life filled with the unexpected.
If I am speaking honestly about myself, I had not been granted the virtues of cleanliness or orderliness in my early life. The state of my childhood bedroom was almost as haphazard (minus the Beanie Babies and Polly Pocket play sets) as my teenaged one strewn with papers, books, and heaps of clothes both clean and dirty (only the smell would distinguish them). My college dorm wasn’t much better – albeit smaller – and always sported dirty bowls with the dregs of ramen noodles, empty beer cans, and again, piles of clothing that didn’t make it onto the meager supply of hangers in the tiny closet. So when did I make the jump from disorder to order, from grubby to laundered? It certainly wasn’t overnight.
Halfway through college, I began noticing a brand of anxiety stemming from dirty or cluttered surroundings. Working with too much going on in my space was distracting. I became more aware of the gratification I felt when my space was clean and how sheepish I felt when my friends came to visit me when I hadn’t been around to cleaning up after myself. “It’s a part of growing up, taking responsibility for yourself,” my mother always told me. A younger version of myself thought that growing up sounded like quite a lot of work and not much fun at all. Luckily, my younger self was incorrect on both counts. I can truthfully say that I experience joyfulness in my responsibility. It makes me smile, each and every morning, to place Kellogg – the bear I stuffed and sewed together myself at Vermont Teddy Bear Company – on the pillows I’ve fluffed after straightening the light green sheets and and cream-colored comforter on our bed (no, I’m not ashamed of my teddy bear, if you must ask!).
The shift in my attitude about my space allowed me to – as the adults would put it – grow up. Funneling my habits toward a more desirable lifestyle started with one simple act; I made my bed each morning. The repetition of this simple act every morning when I got out of bed for the day slowly moulded my daily routine as well my outlook on my surroundings. When I had a tidy bed, I wanted to have a clean nightstand, a decluttered bureau, an orderly closet, a clear floorspace. For me, changing one habit allowed me to open up a gateway into the more purposeful, thoughtful lifestyle that I now enjoy. I am no longer stepping over piles of procrastination to get to my closet or searching through heaps of wasted space to find my keys. I am living with less clutter and less grime, which has led to a life with less stress. We all deserve to come home to a space where we feel at ease and productive rather than suffocated, and I have been able to achieve those feelings during my time at Sunrise Spot. Both Sawyer and I agree that less clutter has led to a happier, more satisfying life.
In my experience, changing a single detrimental habit opens a floodgate of opportunity. My bed remains tidy, as does the rest of my home, because I made the choice to change my routine. While it was difficult to get into the swing of things at first, I am now thankful for the self-possession that a few simple changes have made. I am more confident in myself and proud of my surroundings because of the choice I made that day I realized I could no longer bear to live the way I had been living.
Desiree and I don’t mind taking the extra hour or so that is necessary to clean up the apartment before going on vacation. We know that in the long run, we will be happier for it, and that a simple made-up bed can make all the difference.