Do you make your bed every day?
I would guess most of us don’t make our bed every day. Maybe some days, maybe most days, maybe never. Right now you’re thinking about how often you do or do not make your bed. Sometimes we have to make our bed before getting back into bed the next night. Am I right?
I grew up in a household with a stay-at-home mom. House always picked up. Dishes never in the sink. No clothes on the floor, ever. Everything put back in its place, always. There was no junk drawer because there was no junk. My Dad lived by the motto “clean as you go!” It never felt military-like or regimented in any way. It’s just the way we did it. You know how you have those days when you certainly wouldn’t want any of your friends or family to see the state of your house? Yeah, we never had to worry about that.
So get this. You may not believe me but I assure you this is no hyperbole. I have never, not once, ever seen my parents’ bed unmade. Yep, that’s right. 18 years of living at home and not once did I ever see my parents’ bed not made. I wonder what color their sheets were. I don’t know. I never saw the sheets, just a perfectly made, pulled up, smoothed out, made bed.
Is that weird? That’s kind of weird isn’t it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a generational thing but it seems to me there has been a shift away from keeping the June Cleaver fastidious household. I think I’ve figured out why. Because it is REALLY HARD and we don’t have the time!!
I found that out when I got out on my own. All of those invisible things my mom did to keep tidy and clean didn’t just magically happen. It took a lot of effort and time and commitment.
In my household today, we implement a multi-faceted approach with charts, assignments, tools, and weekend deep dives. And it’s all hands on deck. Nobody has immunity to pitching in. We attack this week in and week out. “Household” is even a standing bullet point on our weekly meeting agenda. Ok, so now you know we have a weekly meeting to run our family. We run our family as if it’s a business, making sure we are looking at all of our key performance indicators on a weekly basis so we don’t go off the rails, but that’s for another day.
I remember learning the term “entropy” in middle school science. Entropy is defined as the gradual decline into disorder. Basically, if left unattended, order will devolve into disorder, all on its own. My point is, even with all the attention we give to the upkeep of our household, it is still REALLY HARD! We still have unmade beds. We still have dishes in the sink. We still have clothes on the floor. We still have “stuff” laying out on the tables and counters that have not been put away. Oh, and laundry. We haven’t even talked about laundry. I’ll just leave that whole laundry subject right here because you all know the pain. I know you do.
I have to say, I love living in an orderly, clean house. It brings me joy. Being free of physical clutter can help free my mind of mental and emotional clutter. There is a certain pride that comes with it which makes me feel energized and confident, which permeates to other areas of my life. So, back to the making of beds. “How you do anything is how you do everything.” That’s a pretty good quote and I believe it to be true. Making your bed in the morning is a pretty symbolic act and serves as a metaphor for life.
First off, making your bed in the morning gets you a tally in the win column to start the day. There’s a sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with making your bed and the feat, no matter how seemingly small, leaves you with a sense of satisfaction. Secondly, making your bed is a form of self care. You are taking care of the place you sleep. Sleep is paramount to our health and making your bed pays homage to the respect you have for your health and displays gratitude for that sacred space.
Enter Stage Left “The Yabbut.” Is making your bed every day really all that important? I mean, who cares? If it doesn’t mean anything to you to have your bed made, why does it matter? Heck, there’s even evidence to support that an unmade bed is cleaner than a made bed because it is not trapping the microbes and dust mites. Yes, chalk one up for the messy ones! Here’s what I’ve learned. There’s a dark side to fastidiousness.
There’s a danger in cleanliness and tidiness. In some cases it can serve as a facade, a cover, a mask. It serves to protect the fear of letting go, letting loose, getting messy, and dare I say, having fun. Never veering too far from the neat and clean center keeps us from exploring the edges of fun and adventure. It keeps us in the “follow the rules, follow the herd, stay out of trouble” box. That box has no windows and can get pretty dark.
We should also explore motives. If being tidy is a way to avoid the judgment of others, it can be an unhealthy thing, forever putting off the exploration of why we are trying to please the phantom judge in our lives. If you’ve figured out that being clean and neat allows for the only kind of environment for which you can thrive, then great. But if having everything in order is a prerequisite for getting work done, leaving the house, or playing with your children, are we really serving ourselves in the best way?
Having children has taught me many things. There should be toys laying around. There should be evidence of a craft project in the corner. There should be a puzzle or a board game on the coffee table from the night before. There should be random socks everywhere around the house (that whole sock thing still baffles me). There should be muddy shoes at the back door. That’s life. I really think exploration is how our kids learn and they have to be able to do that without fear of being messy, no matter how averse to messes their parents might be. This is really hard for me sometimes. Don’t get me started with glitter and paint. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
So, where do I fall on the “do you make your bed” spectrum? Somewhere in the middle but certainly leaning pretty hard to the “straighten that pillow” side of things. I think there is a happy balance we all have to find that keeps us somewhere between utter chaos and a death grip on control.
Here’s my challenge to you. For the next week, go opposite. If you never make your bed, make it each day. If you always make your bed, try, try, try to leave it unmade. In both cases, whether you just made your bed or just didn’t make your bed, take a moment, look at your bed, take a deep breath, close your eyes for a moment, and then go about your day.