Creating a Sanctuary at Home

My midwife taught me one of the most important things I have learned in my life as a mother.  Create a sanctuary at home. This means a place that is safe for you to be yourself, to experience emotions, to engage in art, to follow your dreams.  A place that is yours and functions in line with what brings you joy and peace.  A place where you are comfortable, where you can wear what you want when you want and as you please when you need. Protect your sanctuary with vengeance, if you fail to do so it can most certainly result in emotional angst and unnecessary stress.

Immediately after having a baby our midwife suggests holing up at home with the family so the baby can bond as deeply as possible.  She suggests 4 weeks of bed rest for momma to heal her uterus in the proper position (she thinks this is why the hysterectomy rate is so high these days, because women are on their feet immediately after childbirth). This means no commotion in the home and keeping guests to minimum.  No one at all the first 3 days if possible.  House guests should bring food, do a chore and quietly leave.  This means it is probably not a good idea to have anyone come stay with you during this time, even if they are there to help.  Our midwife suggests simply asking people to come for short time periods and leaving you to bond in total peace for the first month of life.

As you recover and move forward into your new daily routines, it is important to create an ongoing sanctuary for yourself that continues through time.  A new child adds new dimensions and what makes your home a sanctuary will change, so notice what works for you and what doesn’t and be willing to make changes.

For John and I this means a few things.  As a pair we decided our sanctuary needed to be tidy and everything needed a place.  We needed (and need) fewer possessions because we often find we have more things than we have places to put them.  We needed our own spaces to do our own things.  My space tends to be the kitchen, I stand at the counter and work on my computer while I work or clean.  The kids have a play room. John has an office, it is now around the corner form our apartment, but in the farmhouse it was a room in our home. We share a family bed, which reduces stress for the whole family at night.  Our daughter loves art so we have lots of art for her.  I love to write, so I keep access to notebooks and a clear area for my computer.  Our son loves to run and dance through the house, so an open space for him. Our sanctuary ebbs and flows and changes.

Do not be afraid to rearrange your home.  I move furniture when things aren’t working.  I love to create a fresh space and I refuse to try to control my kids if our spaces isn’t working.  For example, when our son kept climbing into the window sill behind the couch, I simply moved the couch.  When my daughter kept getting in to my nail polish box, I simply moved it higher.

One thing we have found in our nearly five years together is that we operate best when we have our own space.  I have always loved being surrounded by people, always.  We have opened our home to short and long term housegests or roommates repeatedly.  We have found that when we live alone as a family we are happier as a family.  Every time we have had a roommate our relationship changes, I believe this is because we lose our personal time together.  Our kids go to sleep and the evening is no longer for the two of us, it is for us plus a roommate(s).

Suddenly we lose our privacy and personal time, meaning we have an audience for every conversation.  That changes a relationship in ways you may not understand until you are experiencing it. This is irrelevant to what type of roommate you have, by the way, it could be the worlds most perfect roommate, but you still have an audience.

The people who have stayed with us have varied from families, to single friends, pet owners, people in urgent transition, or people we ask to live there for long periods.  We have found that opening your home makes you vulnerable to energetic frequencies that you may not tolerate in your home otherwise.  From an aggressive dog, to a passive aggressive roomate to a house full of chaos, we have had some very rough experiences with housing others.  Protect your space, protect your sanctuary.  No matter how strong and happy you are, adding others in to the mix can create disharmony that you do not need.

I am eternally grateful to those who put me up during my times of need.  But I have learned as a protectorate of my children and our sanctuary, that we can no longer pay that favor forward.  Emotional stability is so important for your children, bringing in third parties can shake the foundation of that!

For us, a sanctuary involves a place just for us.  What a blessing we have figured this out and can act accordingly moving forward.

John is reading some Buddhist texts right now that suggest creating a peace room, a breathing room, or a quiet space where family members can go to unwind.  Mine is the giant bathtub we have right now, but I don’t think the other members of our family have a peace room.  I hope he creates it, I think it is an excellent idea.

To create a sanctuary for yourself and your family you must create a space that is conducive to love, to community, to quiet, to celebration, to intimacy, to bonding, to autonomy and freedom.  If you can find the elements you need to have this, I know you can create a space that allows your soul to sing.

To be clear, I am not advocating isolating yourself in your home, I am simply saying that John and I opened ours too often, and at times against our better judgement.  Follow your heart.  I know that I want to live on the same property with folks of a like mind, but I want a private space for our family that we can open or close to others as we see fit. I am also not advocating that you home must me mess-free, just clean enough for you to thrive, the threshold of mess you can tolerate will be unique to you!

One last tip is to get rid of anything in your space that isn’t working for you.  I use a 3 point criteria for items in my home.  I must use them, love them, and they must not be broken.  If any of the 3 are not true, I get rid of them. Love it, but broken?  Gone.  Use it but hate the way it looks?  Gone.  Take a picture if you are afraid to let go.

How do you make your home a sanctuary?

Here is a podcast I did on this topic:
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Happy sanctuary!

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