Hello from our last months as a family of five living under one roof, our last days with a high school senior.
I could mourn (And I have cried. Friends, you know I have CRIED.) But I’m choosing to celebrate. To count gifts, to name the things that have made our home happy. So many things bless our days and hours together in this season, blessings that add up to a happy home.
Here’s my top 10 list, 10 things I love about our family, 10 ways to live together well, 10 commandments for a happy home.
1. Laugh Together
Laughter greases the wheels of a home, keeping us in an atmosphere of enjoyment. It’s hard to be irritated when you’re laughing.
2. Say I love you, regularly
Relationships thrive on affection and appreciation, but it’s easy to be stingy with the people with whom we live, even those we love the most. Speak love, often.
3. Kiss good morning, goodbye, and good night.
Saying hello and goodbye, good morning and good night to the people we live with forms a liturgy of connection. Daily rituals really can make the every day holy.
4. Don’t Stuff your feelings. When you’re mad, say something. When you’re sad, ask for what you need.
Roommates, marriages, friendships, family connections: Every relationships suffocates under the weight of the unspoken. Be kind, or at least be civil, but speak up.
5. Sit down and eat together for every meal you can.
We don’t need fancy food or expensive table settings, but we can put down our phones, turn of the TV, and share a meal and our lives. The table can be a holy place.
6. Share the Work
A home is formed when we share: Share the love, share the sorrow, share meals, and share the work. Keeping things clean, uncluttered, peaceful, a fun, safe, enjoyable environment for everyone should be everyone’s job. If you live here, it’s your responsibility to make it a nice place to live for everyone (this works for families, roommates, even work places!)
7. Home is a place where everyone belongs: Give others the gift of being OK with who they are
In our family, this lesson most often comes up when a sibling resents the immaturity of his brother and is told, “Everyone gets a turn to be 8.” It can be hard with roommates, but often even harder with our spouse and children, but home life works better when we honor others’ right to live and be different from ourselves.
8. Celebrate big and small things
A party doesn’t have to be big, elaborate, or fancy, but it is good to be alive, and we should celebrate. Embrace the seasons, observe holidays, build traditions, make memories, give thanks.
9. Do the the things you love together
Screens and schedules and stress can lure us into living separate lives under one roof. Embrace a common life, sharing activities and hobbies, games and TV shows, bike rides and sporting events.
10. Be a WE, not a group of Is
Our world is starving for community, dying for belonging. How different would our communities be if roommates, families, work teams, small groups thought of themselves as WE? My prayer for our kids is that the belonging they experience in our home would be so strong that they would enter the world offering that belonging to others, including everyone they meet from an “us or them” to a “one of us”. We belong to each other.
There is a lot of hurt in the world, and there are many reasons our homes aren’t always happy. But I think we can make more choices toward happiness than we realize.
If you were making a list of 10 things that make your home a happy one, what would you include?