Maureen Roberts' Blog
When we decorate and organize our homes, few of us give more than a passing thought to the way our choices will affect our mood and behavior in our home. Most of us simply organize and decorate based on what we like on a whim.
There are, however, entire fields of study devoted to the way our environment affects us (environmental psychology), and ways we can engineer and design our environments to change our moods and behaviors.
If you’ve ever visited a big city like New York you will likely have noticed an example of this firsthand in city parks.
When you sit down on a park bench, you’ll likely find that it isn’t the most comfortable place to sit. There’s more than just a tight budget at play here. Many engineers who plan parks use the idea of “unpleasant design.” They create benches with the intention of dissuading people from lying down the benches by making them curved or putting arm rests in the middle of them.
In the same way that a city park can be designed to affect your behavior, your home can as well. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how you can better arrange and decorate your home to have a positive impact on both your mood and behavior.
Organize to your advantage
Many of us think of our homes as the opposite of work--it’s a place we relax after a long day. However, there are a number of chores and tasks you’ll complete at home that can be optimally engineered to save you time.
One simple example is to think about the placement of the items you use in the kitchen. Is your trash can far from the countertop, requiring you to constantly walk away to toss out scraps?
A good way to find out the needless extra work you’re doing around the house is to take note of how you go about your daily routine. This will give you insight into areas where you might better use your time.
Declutter for productivity
Whether you work from home frequently or you just need a quiet place to do taxes or pay bills, a home office can be a good way to avoid distraction. That is, until you fill your home office with distractions.
When organizing your office, think about the content of it. For most people, a decluttered minimalist environment is most conducive to work. Leave out the television, keep your cell phone at bay, and don’t cover your desk in papers that you’ll constantly be rearranging.
Similarly, your computer needs to be tailored to productivity as well. We all know how tempting it is to head over to Facebook or Reddit when we should be focusing on work. A good way to help break this habit is to utilize a time tracking app that lets you know when it’s time for a break. Alternatively, you can use an extension or add-on for your browser that blocks sites like Facebook during the time you specify.
Colors matter more than you think
Each room in your home serves a different purpose. The kitchen is a place of activity and conversation, the bedroom is one of relaxation, and the home office one of focus.
Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the colors and brightness of the room we are in and our moods.
So, when you’re decorating a room in your home, think about the type of colors that fit how you would like to feel in that room.
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Volunteering is a great way to begin to engage with your new community. It is also a great way to get your kids involved in their neighborhood, and it provides an excellent teaching and growth opportunity for you and your children. You can start teaching your kids empathy and instill care for their community and world early in life. Even if your little ones are toddlers or elementary students, they can absolutely get involved. So, what options are the best for you and your young children?
- Adopt more grandparents: Establish a weekly or bi-weekly trip with your kids visiting a retirement community in your area. Teach your kids to make friends and engage with elderly residents. Bring games to play with their newly adopted grandparents and make cards or draw pictures at home to bring on each visit.
- Adopt a family or child: During back-to-school time or over the holidays adopt a family or child with your kids. Inform them about the reason the family is in need and what you and your children can do to help. Bring them with you to the store and let them select the notebooks, mechanical pencils, toys and necessities to support the family.
- Community clean up: Your kids can participate in keeping their community beautiful from an early age. From your street to your neighborhood, local park or community wildlife center it’s easy to start teaching your kids to preserve their environment with simple trash pickup.
- Serve meals or donate food: For holidays, or any day of the year, take your kids with you to a shelter or soup kitchen and teach them to give service to those less fortunate. Take your kids to the store to select necessities and canned goods to donate to a food pantry or deliver to homeless you see on the street. By interacting with those in need and offering your services, you can teach your kids compassion and understanding by introducing them to different walks of life.
- Walk for charity: Make a plan with your kids to join a walk for charity. There are many opportunities for your family participate in charitable walks so start by brainstorming with your kids to determine what charity they want to support. Help them prepare paperwork to ask for donations and practice their requests, then help them learn to follow through by walking with them on the day of the charity walk.
- Bring joy to a children’s ward: Commit to a weekly or monthly hospital visit you’re your kids to visit other sick children. Make get-well-soon cards, bring games to play or give out candy and gifts at Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter. Visiting children in need will teach gratitude and empathy to your kids.
- Community garden: Teach your kids skills and give them the means to contribute to their community by helping plant and cultivate your local community garden. Work with them to learn which plants will work best in the environment, which will most benefit the neighborhood, and how to care for the plants over time.
- Visit an animal shelter: Volunteer to walk dogs or play with cats or rabbits with your kids. Sign up for a pet adoption day and have your kids help introduce other kids to new animals for their family. You can even make no-sew toys for cats and dogs at home, using old t-shirts or jeans, and bring the toys to the shelter to donate.
- Random acts of kindness: Teach your kids to engage in random acts of kindness to show them how to recognize goodness and need in the world and establish in them the habit of always looking for in-the-moment opportunities to do something nice for others. Make sweet little cards at home with candy inside that say "Thank you!" or "Have a great day!." Have them pay attention during errand outings for cashiers, sales clerks or random people in the store that might need a pick-me-up or just for someone to recognize them. Teach them to help their neighbors by offering to help unload groceries, rake the lawn or walk the dog.
There are many ways to start getting your kids involved in and concerned about bettering their community and the world at large early in life. Start when they’re young and continue instilling in them an ongoing desire to contribute.