When You Rent Your Living Space.

I sighed as I surveyed the path directly in front of our porch. There were SO many weeds.

As I began to pull the weeds that had grown between the spaces of cement blocks, I realized most of these weeds were not going to give up their residence so easily. While it was a cool summer evening, I soon found myself sweating.

It struck me. These weeds had made themselves a home in the most unlikely of places. They had embedded themselves in the cracks in the asphalt, between the spaces in the cement blocks and even out the sides of the steps on our porch. I was amazed at how I couldn’t even get to the root system of these plants, they were entangled so deeply.

My husband and I have been renters our entire 5 years of marriage. We’ve lived in basement apartments for the majority of our marriage and then finally on the main floor of a bungalow with renters below us.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. A physical house (apartment, condo, townhouse or room) does not make a home. Things do not equate to happiness. Money does not bring contentment. There is a lot of societal pressure to own a home. I’ve been told that it’s a waste to pay rent rather than put that money towards a mortgage. When I was pregnant with my first son, I was asked a few times if my husband and I were going to buy a home and I had to laugh at the thought of such a expensive baby shower gift!

Whatever the situation or reason for renting or buying, there can often be the struggle with being content with the season of life you are in. I want to share 4 things that have helped me make my house more than just a building I rent, when I’ve struggled with contentment.

  • Decorate. Something as simple as paint or hanging pictures on the wall can go a long way in making you feel “at home.” I keep our home decor simple but I aim to put things around me that I find aesthetically pleasing and calming. We’ve invested in furniture that is comfortable and functional. Cut the grass, trim the hedge and plant some flowers! Do things that make your space feel “homey.” I anticipate fall every year, because it is my most favourite time of year to pull out my fall decor, bake apple crumble and put pumpkins on the front steps. Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive as there are so many second hand things you can repurpose. 99% of my home decor is repurposed or handmade!
  • Minimize the clutter and clean things up! We are always in the process of minimizing our possessions. Having less to clean up and organize makes our home feel fresh. It also gives us more time to spend together as a family.
  • Practice Hospitality. I am not great at hospitality. I don’t clap my hands at the thought of entertaining and I’ll admit, I don’t do it often in this season of having babies. BUT it’s something I’m growing and being stretched in. I think something happens when you invite people into the space you live and take the time to make them feel welcome. You begin to take pride in your surroundings and become intentional in sharing your home.
  • Adjust your perspective. This takes time-trust me, I know. I’ve gone through seasons of hating places we’ve lived in. I made myself miserable and no one was to blame except ME. It’s a process but set little goals for yourself to do things that will bring about a more positive mindset. Prayer for a grateful heart has gone a long way in helping change my perspective.

As I was pulling those weeds the other night, I had the realization that I have a choice. I can choose to take no pride in where I live. I could cringe when I’m asked if we own our home. I could apologize for my modest, small brick rental when friends come to visit.

Or I could choose be like those weeds. Practically speaking, weeds aren’t great. Metaphorically I want to be like a weed, right where I’m at. I can choose to set my roots deeply and firmly in this season. I can choose to make a home exactly where I’m at. I can choose to take be a good steward of what I have, right now.

For every time I sweep my front porch, shovel snow off the path, clean my tiny bathroom or hear the old hardwood floors creak obnoxiously in my bedroom-I can welcome the warmth of gratitude.

I have gratitude for this house being the place where I brought BOTH my babies home. Gratitude for this home being the place where we became a family of 3 and then 4. Gratitude for my sweet friend who lives nearby and can walk to my home with her little boy for visits. Gratitude for living close to relatives. Gratitude that my husband doesn’t have to commute long distances to work. Gratitude for the view out my front window of the beautiful trees that change colour every fall.

Where we live and what we have (or do not have) does not have to determine our measure of joy in this life. I reckon if I can not learn to find joy where I’m at now, then I never will. Its a process, my friends!

At the end of the day, who is beside me matters so much more than where I’m living. My family has made this house a home. If you find yourself struggling with your living situation, I hope this encourages you to embrace and make the most of what you’ve been entrusted with. You won’t regret it!

Do you rent? What are some things you’ve done to make your place feel more like home?

7 Tips For A Tidy Home

The other day I caught my toddler walking around the house with a mouthful of chewed up cat kibble.

A few days after that, my cat decided to projectile vomit all over the dining room floor. When I was a little girl I didn’t imagine cleaning piles of cat puke and wrestling my toddler for kibble as my future. Nonetheless that is my life these days though not ALL the time.

I literally do not want to spend more than a half hour a day cleaning up. But I want a clean home. I also have two children under the age of two! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

I’m here to tell you it is and share a few simple tips that can help you streamline a daily cleaning routine.

  • Have LESS Things. The less stuff you own, the less you have to clean up! It’s really that simple. I recently replaced our dishes with this simple, clean set from Correlle. I have more space in my cupboards and less things to clean. Win win!
  • Have One Main Cleaning Task Each Day. I put together a weekly cleaning list and every day I have one “big” task that I try to complete. For example, Mondays I clean the bathroom, Thursdays I mop the floors etc. By doing this, I don’t feel the pressure to clean my entire house from top to bottom. I stick to one main task per day and the upkeep of that makes everyday cleaning easier.
  • Have ONGOING Daily Cleaning Tasks. Keep things simple like wiping down the kitchen and a quick sweep after meals so that grime doesn’t pile up. Decide how often you will pick up toys so that you don’t spend your entire day picking up toys. I tidy up toys and clutter about three times a day usually after mealtimes.
  • Simplify Your Cleaning Products. I love Norwex because their products make cleaning super simple and quick! They’re also non-toxic and good for the environment. I make a few of my own cleaning solutions which I share about here. We invested in a Dyson Animal stick vacuum. It’s perfect for a quick cleanup! I also love these microfibre cloths from Amazon. I use them for everything except the toilet. I don’t use any reusable cloths on the toilet, EVER. GROSS! I save paper towels for that and then compost the paper towels. If you have products that are messy and difficult to use, chances are you probably won’t use them. Make it easier on yourself and cut your cleaning time in half with products you actually want to use.
  • Live In A Smaller House. We just returned from a family vacation where we stayed in a massive 5 bedroom beach “cottage.” While it was beautiful and spacious the charm wore off pretty quickly. The bigger a house, the more you have to clean! You know how long it takes me to do a good clean of the house we rent? MAYBE an hour. We live in about 800/900 square feet on the main floor of a bungalow. Prior to that we lived in the basement of this bungalow which was about 600 square feet and even easier to clean! Seriously consider downsizing if it means less stress. It might also mean a smaller mortgage which is even better!
  • Involve Your Children In The Process. When my oldest was about a year old I started involving him in the clean up process. Now that he’s almost two he can put his toys away with supervision. If you have older children and you’re still cleaning up after them……why? Get those kids involved! 
  • Have A Solid Laundry Routine. Make a routine and stick to it. I know when and how a person does their laundry varies from person to person. But keep it simple. I personally don’t want to be doing laundry every day, all day. And I have cloth diapers to wash but I still only wash those twice week. Tip: if you build a capsule wardrobe you will have LESS clothing to wash! I use Nellie’s because one tin will get you through 100 loads. It’s also non toxic and environmentally friendly!

My home is NOT sparkling clean all the time. It’s moderately tidy and somewhat clean most of the time. I don’t want to spend all day cleaning because I can think of a billion other things I’d like to be doing. I hope my tips save you some time and a bit of your sanity.

Cheers and happy cleaning! If you have any tips and tricks, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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