Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Home Is My Castle-Learning To Be Happy At Home

Lately many folks I know are staying closer to home.  The reasons for this are all over the map. Some folks have just retired.  Some folks are stuck closer to home because of the cost of fuel and the attendant costs. Some work at home. Some are unemployed at home.

For many folks actually being at home all the time can be frustrating. It can be a huge transition, depending on previous work and lifestyle, and some folks look at having to stay close to home as deprivation.  People can become stymied, sluggish, frustrated and bored with the move to being home full time.

I am at home most of my day, most of my days. This doesn't mean that I am a hermit, or that I lack a social life, or that I "never go anywhere" as the saying goes. It does mean that for reasons financial and personal, my home is literally my castle for many hours.  While I am not an expert of making folks happy at home, I do have some ideas on things to do to make that time interesting and fulfilled.
  • Make cooking an experience, not just time spent to get food on the table. If you are part of a couple, prepare meals together. Experiment, experiment experiment.  I am not a great cook, but still enjoyed watching and helping hubby on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
  • Read, Read, Read. Most folks I know have more books to read than they will ever finish. Be grateful for the chance to lie down on the couch and read a book cover to cover-just do it. I read books from the library for free, but there are also free books for Kindle and Nook.
  • Get in touch and stay in touch. The Internet is a wonderful thing.  Search for old college mates, keep in touch with former coworkers, even meet new friends on the net. Facebook is not just for Generation X.
  • Learn. Consider a free online class, just for the enjoyment of it. There are all kinds of lifelong learning opportunities on the net for pennies or for free.  I've recently taken an online, free course on Women Artists of the American West. Be it a hobby, interest or vocation you can probably can find an online class on the subject,
  • Pursue a hobby or  interest from home. Even if you have other hobbies and interests such as golf, add a couple more that can be done in and from the nest.  Hobbies pursued at home do not have to be crafty-homemaking hobbies. Genealogy, writing, photography and painting are just a few of the hobbies that can be done from home or nearby. As an avid road tripper, much of that hobby is done from home-the research, planning and writing about said travels afterwards.
  • Move, and move daily, weather permitting. Do this at home, in your yard, in your neighborhood.Find some way to exercise. It's cheap, you'll stay alert, and have a chance to meet neighbors and friends.
  • Create "events" to make things interesting. Don't just turn on a movie. Decide it's "movie night" and make the popcorn, drinks and dim the lights. Invite family or friends to may be nearby. Revive your own version of the cocktail hour in the afternoon. Adjourn to the patio in warm weather, to the living room to watch the news in winter.
  • Entertain. Start a tradition of weekly movie night, monthly dinner group or other potluck style even with friends and/or family. Be willing to host and have others contribute, or rotate homes.  I've mention before that my dinner group rotates among the homes of the members.  My girl's night out remains at the same home because of the ease of scheduling, and we all contribute.
  • If you share your castle, try and make individual space.  No matter how small the apartment or home, each person deserves a little place for just themselves.
  • Make commitments to go out of the house on a regular basis. These don't have to be often, and they don't have to be expensive.   There are millions of small frugal ways to leave the house. Make the promise, if only to yourself.  If you think there are no free diversions in your area, think again. Look again. Other than Sunday morning church and coffee, I have one regular social activity per week.  However, I generally am out of the house at least once or twice. I may go to a local book group at our independent bookstore. I've been known on a nice day (or a crappy one) to take a book to my local independent coffe shop and sit and read, nodding and occasionally chatting with folks who go in and out. I love to visit the farmers market-yes, alone.
  • Search out volunteer opportunities that can be done from home or close to home. Many agencies need help with web pages, advertisement, phone calls and the like.
  • Finally, make your home your castle. Step back, take a look, and decide what small changes you would like to make to make home your "happy place". Forget about kids, entertaining or what the repairman sees when he enters (assuming you're no hoarder). My living room has pillows and a quilt, a pile of to read books, space for hot chocolate and snacks and many many pillows. I can retreat with a book, wine or cocoa, and come out a few hours later. Think about what you do, what you want to do, and arrange home accordingly. Make it work for you.
What about you? Is staying home a gift, a burden, or somewhere in between?


  1. Great post! I love being home. For the first time in my life I actually enjoy cleaning. I do one thing each day as far as cleaning goes. No more weekend cleaning marathons the left me depressed and annoyed.

    For the first time in a long time I am enjoying making dinner every night. I don't feel the need to go out to eat all the time.

    I spend my days in my studio, riding my bike when the weather permits. The only thing I need to remember to do is to keep socializing. I do tend to become hermit like.

    I will try and remember not to do that!

  2. funny you post what I've been thinking a lot about lately! I spend a lot of time at home - I work 12 hr shifts that rotate and I'm usually tired. I have some friends but not a whole lot that are super close and able to 'just go do something' spur of the moment plus the closest lives 3 hours away.

    I loved this townhome when I bought it 11 yrs ago(or guess I should say when I began paying for it 11 yrs ago!) - it was nice and open, had a hottub on the deck and 3 pretty hibiscus blooming and mostly it was 'open' lots of open space. sure the kitchen was kinda narrow but I didn't cook so it didn't cross my mind that one day I would! I also tend to accumulate clutter - well not clutter to begin with- but my 'collections' soon become clutter. I have mostly too many books falling all over the place. 2 dogs damaged some of the walls, etc in their frisky puppy years. I've replaced the carpet with a nice plush one and the dogs are on it only when I'm home(a miracle in itself since they've always been houdini escape artists) but now the back where they are is cluttered because I haven't bothered to find a place for everything I moved when they installed the carpet and it's been almost a year!

    so my first step in enjoying my home is to clear some stuff OUT! I can't relax with a lot of clutter - I'm not a super clean neatfreak by any stretch of the imagination - in fact super clean makes me downright nervous to kick back and relax -but casual and neat does invite relaxing. I need to openness and 'flow' to the house I used to have before I filled the rooms with 'stuff'.

    I stay home now mainly because doing anything else costs money and there's not much I want to do my myself. A friend will go to the 1.50 theater with me for laterun movies occasionally - tuesdays they're $1..she would also quilt with me but she's been busy-busy with her quilting business since her hubby's been out of work - I did go to a play by myself and this Sunday have a symphony. neither of these was too expensive - the play was $17 for falling on the 2 opening nights(usually $34-$43) it was worth that but no way I'd have paid full price. the symphony was $50 for 4 season tickets plus got an extra 4 as BOGO free - last one went unused but trying to find someone to use this one with me Sunday,.
    I also started staying home because of the dogs - I never intended to have 2 big dogs in a townhome but exbf got one that's hard to handle and I didn't have the heart to take her to the pound and didn't want to leave them here all by themselves to destroy everything in sight! so I stayed here but a friend lived 2 doors down and she and I and our 4 dogs hung out together quite a bit until she started working then moved.

    I could probably be a hermit pretty easily if I didn't go to work and make myself do things every so often. The library is honestly probably my favorite place to go. used to be quilt shops til I realized they were expensive for a budget! and today is ...LIBRARY DAY!!! yeah!!


  3. We do think alike. While a visit with the grandkids, a picnic at a park, or a movie are enjoyable and fun, I really prefer being home.

    My wife and I seem happiest living a rather uncluttered, simple life. There are so many ways to stay engaged and stimulated within our four walls or in the backyard, that leaving becomes almost an irritant.

    Maybe it is because I spent so many years on the road, but I like home.

  4. You are an inspiration. I admire you. Your spirit, your calmness, your ambition. You are a shinning example. I have learned a lot from you.

    Thank you.

    I've even started food shopping like you. And I love staying home BUT getting a bit, just like you do. And I'm thinking of going back to church on Sunday.

  5. Morrison-I simply must get out and socialize or I would goo loopy. But I find that being at home day to day, all day long is enjoyable...of course I live in 2300 square feet. When I have to downsize, we'll see if I like it so much!


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